Our electricity bill has been as low as $110 and as high as $180
One thing I want to be sure to mention is that we use cooking gas for cooking, we have on demand hot water heater, rarely use our dryer or dishwasher. That’s a big reason our electricity bill is lower than some of our neighbors. But, of course, that means that we have the added expense of cooking gas which costs us about $15 every two months.
In researching this article at ICE in 2017, we learned that the price break for residential electric usage is at 200 kWh per month. The first 200 kWh per month are charged at a rate of 70 colones per kWh. Any usage over 200 kWh per month is charged at a rate of 130 colones per kWh, plus taxes. By using less than 200 kWh, you not only save per kWh, you also don’t pay taxes, which are waived.
After speaking with two different ICE representatives, we have learned that the time of day you use energy has no bearing on the cost unless you have a “smart meter.” Unfortunately, they are not available in most residential areas and are primarily used by businesses. But, where you live can impact your bill significantly, as different areas are charged different rates. We are lucky to live in an area that seems to have a fairly low rate per kWh.
I guess the lesson here is to try to use less than 200 kWh/month. How can you keep your kWh usage under 200 kw? It’s simple.
Use clothes dryers, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers as little as possible. The main reason our electricity bill goes up in the rainy season is that we use the clothes dryer when doing laundry, instead of trying to hang clothes outside on the line. Besides, hanging the clothes from December - April is kind of a Zen thing that I really enjoy.
Another of my rainy season habits also adds to our electric bill – we run our ceiling fans more of the time to keep the air circulating and mildew at bay. But, because we chose to live at a higher elevation (about 700 ft.), we never need air conditioning. We always wanted to live with our windows and doors open, so dehumidifiers and air conditioners are out of the question for us. (We do have a dehumidifier in our “dry” / secure room, to ensure valuables are kept dry and mold free).
One of the biggest reasons we came to Costa Rica was to “live outside.” This meant no need for air-conditioning or heat. When we lived in Canada, before moving here, we had high heating bills (over $300 per month during the winters) and were stuck in doors for at least 6 months a year. It wasn’t just the expense – we wanted to enjoy the outdoors. Back in Canada, we could rarely open our windows. Those days and nights when we could were a delight, but they were few and far between. We could go outside, but the mosquitoes and the mostly 'too-cold" temperatures prevented us from truly living in the fresh air.
Another time that our power bill has been higher is over Christmas…cause I love Christmas lights! Over time, we are changing more and more of our lighting to solar….so that cost will gradually be reduced!
Another tip, especially if you own your house, is to be sure that the electricity is properly grounded. We know folks whose house was built with the current improperly grounded, so much of the energy usage was going into the ground and therefore wasted; and their bill was higher than it needed to be. Be sure to ensure that your home is properly grounded. An electrician can easily check this for you.
Solar is fast becoming a good option here in Costa Rica! The price of solar installation has come down significantly in the past few years. Most homes are looking at a 7 year "pay out" for the investment of solar.
Questions? Ask us here at Ballena Homes!