Monday, July 7, 2014

Electricity & Power Bills

The water that keeps our lights on!

Up to this point, our power bills were fairly reasonable with an  average around $100 per month. We were running 2 laptops, 2 fridges, a small space heater, and the Chilean washer/dryer which as I have posted before - the dryer especially was very inferior and didn't work well. Then enters our American power hungry appliances which arrived in our shipping container in April. Our first power bill arrived post container. It was a doozy!! Add the hot tub, the super size Maytag washer & dryer, 3 computers, and another space heater and voila! Our power bill was $400. This dismaying turn of events prompted a pulling of the plugs and a little research, I found that most energy produced in Chile is hydro-electric.
"Historically, hydroelectric plants have been the largest power source in Chile. Periodical droughts caused, however, supply shortfalls and blackouts, which led the government to increase diversification in the country's energy mix in the 1990s, mainly through the addition of natural-gas-fired power plants." quote from Wikipedia.  
They have also added some coal fired power plants because of a recent shortage of natural gas. I would think power in the south is mainly hydro since we have so many rivers and so much water here.
I am trying to decipher the power bill to see how much it is per kilowatt hour and I'll let you know.
Well, in South Carolina Duke Power is charging 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour. This is with a price increase in 2014. Our bill here in Chile is 22 cents per kilowatt hour. Ouch! Why so high? I don't know why.
I'd be interested to know what you pay for per kilowatt hour in the US. 
 The power here is fairly dependable. It has only gone out twice in the past year and one time was a planned repair. Not bad for being out in the campo with no street address.
Our ultimate goal though is to go off grid with a combo of solar, wind, and hydro so in the long run it really won't matter how much the powerbill is!

Here is an interesting link to energy in Chile if you want further info.
A big controversial dam project for Patagonia was turned down by the Chilean government
here is an interesting link or 2


  1. I think we're running around $0.11/kWh in our part of Texas using a mix of Natural Gas and Coal.

  2. Ok either we are paying $38.46/kw hour or I am reading this bill wrong.......... I am definitely reading the bill wrong. I think I will need the help of my friend to translate so I can figure out what it really is saying.

  3. For comparison, our bills, running 2 fridges, a chest freezer, HVAC, electric washer, electric dryer, dishwasher, tons of halogen lights, and a bunch of electronics rarely top $350 in high summer. We do have a gas-fired hot water heater and range. But AC in summer runs non-stop.

    About 1/3rd of that amount is taxes and regulatory fees. In mid-winter our bills are closer to $100/month with the same appliances running (but almost no A/C since furnace is gas).

  4. Jim here Flambeaux... we do not have any HVAC at all just a wood stove, We do live in a summer vacation home though. So our bill should be significant lower if the hot tub, was removed. We averaged $350.00 / Mo for our high electric bill months in a house in SC that was all electric. Power and energy in general here is about 3 times more expensive. I am going to try to get to the foundation of why it is so much more. It is not the case with all South American countries as some have auto fuel for less than $1.00 USD a gallon. I suspect that government has their nasty hand in the problem but we will just have to see.
    For us there is NO returning to the former USA, so I am exploring the options into other sources of energy: (Solar, Hydro, WInd and alternative fuel like Ethanol from a still)

    I do think that a healthy mix of each of the above would be the answer. For heating I am going to stick with WOOD because it is so cheap and the boys and I can weld up a very efficient external wood boiler/wood stove to use for under floor radiant heat. You do see radiant heat here of this type so it is not uncommon.

  5. Very cool, Jim.
    Since I first learned about the ancient Romans' hypocaust systems I've wanted to build one. :)

  6. Flambeaux my dad had radiant heat in his house and it was almost too efficient and he was always having to open windows, because there is a slight lag time in the heat and cool phase due to the thermal mass of the water. His boiler was a real small propane system it was very small.
    I have seen several systems here that use wood with re circulating pumps pushing water through a heat ex-changer that is either submerged in a water jacket or directly exposed to the wood flame.
    The method of delivery is where I think that the efficiency is lost because most of the systems were retro fits utilizing radiators instead of under mount floor PEX lines. Wonderful things radiators. They are real hot if you are standing right next to them but across the room you are freezing your bacon. I have actually seen people smartly using small fans to blow the cold air off the floor into and through the radiators fins.
    So the idea is a do able here in Chile with wood and it can be done efficiently and cheaply. Also there is no need for Air conditioning here in the South of Chile.

  7. When you guys lost me during the radiant heat chit-chat, I just scrolled back up to the double-rainbow picture and...ahhhh. That's amazing. I'm sorry, what were we talking about again? (smile)

  8. Lori calls Chile the land of Gods Rainbows, and for good reason, you see them all the time.