Managing Your Vacation Rental

Air Conditioning – An Increasingly Popular Amenity

Written by Joan Talmadge
4.4/5 - (5 votes)

Updated June 2023

It’s not our imagination. Summers on the Cape and Islands are getting hotter – and staying hotter longer. As I read through guest reviews of the past summer season, many are mentioning either how much they appreciated the air conditioning the house provided or, conversely, how much more they would have enjoyed the home if it had air conditioning.

During the Pandemic, more vacationers turned to vacation rental homes than ever before. With the increase in demand, vacationers have come to expect more comfort and amenities that resemble a home-away-from-home experience. Air conditioning, especially if guests are accustomed to vacationing in destinations such as the Jersey Shore or the Carolinas, are at the top of their preference list. While air conditioning on the Cape and Islands used to be the exception, today it’s fast becoming the norm.

Sleep-deprived vacationers make unhappy vacationers, so air conditioning in the bedrooms is especially important. The preponderance of complaints this past summer was about the lack of or inadequate A/C in the bedrooms. Fans are fine, but they just don’t do the job on the hottest and most humid summer days.

Air conditioning options

Installing central air is costly.  However, here are two options for air conditioning that you should certainly consider.

  • Traditional or portable window units. Most units are no longer the heavy, bulky units that we remember and can be easily installed. It does mean, however, that you lose that window for natural air ventilation on days when air conditioning isn’t needed. They can also disrupt a beautiful view.
  • Ductless mini split system. With older homes that are difficult to retrofit with central air, this is a viable alternative, since it is small, flexible, and ductless and thus easy to install. These units are also more energy efficient that central air and offer heating as well as cooling. Each room will have it’s own unit and these units can be individually controlled.  Most of the time, it’s not necessary to cool down an entire home, but rather, one room or area.

Update your listing if you add air conditioning

Just as you would if you were to add any updates to your home, be sure to update the interior amenities in your listing and check off either “Central Air” or “A/C Unit(s).” This will enable your listing to come up in a search in which the vacationer checked off “Air Conditioning” as a required amenity.

Should I leave instructions for my guests?

Definitely!  There’s nothing more wasteful than leaving the A/C running while doors and windows are open to the outside air. Perhaps your guests are unfamiliar with the A/C equipment you are providing.  Have the manual readily available and advise your guests to turn off the air conditioning if they will be off to the beach or gone for much of the day. Be sure to remind them that setting an air conditioning unit lower than their intended temperature will not cool the room any faster.

Could I charge more if I offer air conditioning?

The short answer is yes.  It’s difficult to say how much more you can charge in rent, but it’s safe to say that your listing will come up in more searches (vacationers can select A/C as an amenity.) Thus, you will get more inquiries which should result in more bookings.  Of course, you have to consider the expense of installation and electricity usage.  However, you are more likely to have happier guests and repeat ones to boot.

Here are Tyler Pyburn and Elizabeth Weedon discussing the merits of providing air conditioning in your rental home:

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan

1 Comment

  • I was just having this discussion with friends. When we rented 30 years ago, homes had “island air” at night. Now the first thing people ask is whether or not you have AC. My guests were kind but let me know privately, please cool off those back bedrooms. Good article.