Wednesday, November 19, 2014

luz lights up my life

I have lived a cosseted life in Mexico.

When I moved down here, I wanted to learn the daily routines of living in my little village as soon as I could.  During my first eight months, I sat a house on the beach.  But I was responsible for paying rent, the telephone bill, the electric bill, and the propane bill. 

There is a Western Union office in town that accepts payments for Telmex (telephone) and CFE (electric) bills.  So, I learned the process of standing in line with lots of my neighbors.  And that I could add additional advance payments on my Telmex bill, but not my CFE bill.  (A trip to the "county" seat was necessary to make advance electric payments.)

Some of the rules made no sense to me, but I learned them.

For the next almost five years, I lived in another rental.  But everything except the telephone bill was included in my rent.  I had to learn very little about daily finances.  In fact, I forgot a lot of the lessons I learned in the first eight months.

It is time for me to re-learn them.  I have now been in my new house for a month.  And the bills have started arriving.  At least, the electric bill has.

Or, I should say, the electric bills.  My house has two meters to split out the various uses.

Unlike The States, my electric bill does not arrive as an email or in an envelope at my postal box.  It is unceremoniously pushed under my garage door.  A CFE worker (fully geared-out in vest and hard hats) brings a vast stack of bills door-to-door through the neighborhood.

(My telephone bill has still not arrived, but threatening recorded calls to terminate my service have.  The Telmex bills should be delivered to my house by the postman.  He has not yet brought it.  So, I made an advance payment yesterday afternoon.  Otherwise, Mexpatriate would have been dead in the water.)

The CFE bill arrives six times a year.  Two months in each billing.

Because I had only been here for one month, I suspected the bills would be rather low.  You can see how wrong I was.

The smaller bill is for $778 (Mx); the larger for $2,294 (Mx).  That is about $227 (US).

One of the first lessons I learned down here is that electricity is expensive.  I came from an area of The States where the taxpayers of the East Coast subsidized my electricity through the Bonneville Power Administration.  So, I am easily shocked by power bills.

But the bills were far more than I had anticipated.

I already told you the bills are for a two month period.  63 days for these bills.  My assumption is that the bills include costs incurred during the month I did not own the house.

That assumption is not reassuring.  It means that the cost for electricity to run an uoccupied house for one month and a house occupied by one person for the second month (plus a week of two visitors) is quite a bit higher than I suspected it would be.

The big cost, of course, is the pool pump.  It runs a couple of hours each day to keep the pool from re-celebrating Saint Patrick's Day.  Otherwise, there is the use of an occasional fan, a microwave, limited lighting, and the pump that brings water from the well.

The average monthly electricity bill in The States in 2012 (the latest information) was $108.  That puts my bill in some perspective.  But not a very meaningful one.

Of course, the bills are the best argument for not making a leap into the world of air conditioning.  I had already concluded that before the bills arrived.  The combination of the ceililng fans and the pool has been more than enough to make portions of October and November quite pleasant.

When Darrel and I were young, we were not very good at turning off lights.  My mother says Dad and she would often return home at night to find every light in every room of the house ablaze.  His response?  "Children light up a home."

I come by it naturally. 

No comments: