Alternate Ways To Cool or Heat Your Room When Regular Hotel Thermostat Hacks Don’t Work

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written for Your Mileage May Vary has been How To Override Hotel Thermostat Settings. Briefly, hotels with digital thermostats are sometimes able to set them so they don’t go above or below a certain temperature. So you may want your room to be 68 degrees at night, and you may set it to that, but the temperature of the room won’t actually go below 73 (or whatever the hotel has set it to). This saves the hotel money via a lower electric bill, but makes for a whole lot of sweaty (or freezing, in the cold months) guests. The post I mentioned above tells you how to override the settings for a dozen or so popular brands of thermostats.

Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of thermostat makes/models that are missing from the post above. It’s not my fault – the hacks just aren’t out there (or at least weren’t attainable when I was originally researching for that post). Or some hotels may purposely set their thermostats up so they can’t be accessed so easily.

Here are some ways, albeit some unconventional ones, to get around all that.

When they require your room key

Since a decade or two ago, at some hotels (particularly in Europe and Asia), the air conditioning (and sometimes electricity!) in your room would only go on if you put your room key into a slot by the door.

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PC: Wikipedia

That’s fine for when you’re in your room, but if you leave, and your key leaves with you, you’re going to come back to a too hot or cold room, until your reinsert your key card and get the heat or A/C running again.

The Fixes

  • Try different cards in your wallet (don’t use something important like your drivers license. Maybe keep a room key card from another hotel in your wallet, just in case. Or just ask the hotel for another key card LOL)
  • If you’re 2 people rooming together who are going to be staying together when you leave the room, and you each have a key card, bring just one with you and use the other one for the slot.

When they work via a motion sensor

I hate thermostats that have a motion sensor. Sure, everything’s fine as long as people are up and about, but besides making for a cold/hot room when you return to your room at the end of the day, it also makes the room uncomfortable when you’re sleeping because no one moves enough or in the right place.

The Fixes

  • Gary from View From The Wing has this suggestion for INNCOM thermostats. It’s actually a similar video to the one I put in my original How To Override Hotel Thermostat Settings post, but he mentions that putting the thermostat into this mode also disables the motion sensor (this may or may not work with newer INNCOM models).
  • If your room has a ceiling fan (I know, I know…here’s why lots of hotels don’t have ceiling fans), you might want to invest in a mylar balloon – it doesn’t even have to be blown up – tie it to one of the blades while the fan is on a lower setting. It could be enough movement to trick the thermostat to not shut off the hair or A/C (some people recommend just letting it float on the ceiling, but I question if the motion sensor is aimed that high. Letting it hang from the ceiling fan puts it at the height of a typical adult). The belt from a bathrobe could potentially work, too.
  • If there’s no ceiling fan, you could tie the mylar balloon (with helium this time) to or near the air/heat vent and again, that motion may be enough to keep the air or heat on.
  • I’ve also read of putting black electrician’s tape over the sensor but have no confirmation if this really works or not, except by the original author.

When the hotel places a cover over the thermostat

This has got to be the cruelest one, because you can’t change the temperature of the room at all.

Or can you?

The fixes

To make the room warmer

  • Ask the front desk if they have a standing fan. If so, aim it at the thermostat. It won’t make the air around the thermostat any cooler but the moving air might be enough to flip the heat on. Also consider BYO personal fan.
  • A bag of ice tied to the cover (dental floss works well) should make the thermostat think it’s colder than it is (I know that getting the dental floss into one of the slots is easy…it’s getting it out another that’s hard. Try to go catty-corner. Or try using a tweezer to “pick up” the dental floss).
  • if it’s just too much of a pain to tie the bag of ice, this might work, too:

To make the room cooler

  • Move the standing lamp close to the thermostat (here’s a good reason to always have an extension cord with you). A 100 watt bulb next to a thermostat should make the A/C go on (assuming the bulb is incandescent, of course. This won’t work with an LED or florescent bulb).
  • Invest in hand or feet warmers. Following the directions for them to work and then placing them on the cover should trick the thermostat into thinking it’s warmer in the room.

As always, keep in mind that the hotels don’t want you to mess with their thermostats. Besides potentially using more electricity than the hotel intended, you run the risk of breaking their thermostat, and they could hold you responsible for the repair bill. So Your Mileage May Vary as to whether or not it’s a good idea try to bypass the controls set by the hotel.

** Feature photo courtesy of

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

2 thoughts on “Alternate Ways To Cool or Heat Your Room When Regular Hotel Thermostat Hacks Don’t Work”

    1. That’s genius! OK with you if I add it to the list? I’ll even add a link to your blog in the thank-yous on the bottom…

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