Chances are, many hotel guests are only given the illusion of in-room climate control with the actual temperature pre-set or controlled from elsewhere.
A new study confirms what many frequent flyers have long suspected. A report by The Wall Street Journal finds that many hotel thermostats only give the appearance of allowing guests to raise or lower the temperature.
According to an investigation by the WSJ’s Scott McCartney, thermostats that allow guests to adjust settings for heat or air conditioning are, in many cases, pre-set for optimum economy or at the very least dependent on sensors that limit how warm or how cool a room gets no matter what temperature the thermostat reads. A large number of properties are also said to employ motion detectors to save energy when rooms are unoccupied, however briefly.
“The humble hotel wall thermostat, once just a mechanical temperature sensor and fan-speed switch, has become an infrared heat and motion detector wirelessly networked into building controls that cut costs by reducing energy consumption,” McCartney explains in the report. “Many are tied to door switches, shutting off when people leave the room or even open a window or balcony door.”
According to the research, more and more thermostats are being retrofitted to pry control away from guests, and instead obey a series of protocols determined by hotel management. As might be expected, the growing trend towards computer- rather than human-controlled climate settings is very much inspired by the quest for a healthy bottom line. After Hilton adopted the practice in many of its properties more than five years ago, energy use decreased by nearly 15 percent.
There is some good news in the report for tech-savvy travelers. Like many modern inconveniences, there is often a hack that will allow consumers to reassert dominance over the AC. A Google search of the thermostat model will, in some cases, reveal a workaround to allow guests to input their own preferred temperature settings.