Monday, February 7, 2011

Our high electricity bill

It’s a cloudy day in Beirut, dark and chilly, with rain hanging in the air. Because we’ve been overwhelmed by the electricity prices here we are trying not to use our heaters. Every month, a guy from the electricity company comes to check our meters and collect payment. Every month we’ve been shocked by the amount on the bill, however the first couple of months we figured perhaps it was high because of the air conditioners and the fact that we had not been charged for our first month yet. Then we received another enormous bill, without having used heaters, A/C or anything that would use a lot of electricity. We don’t even have a television! 

So we did some research; turned things on and off while checking the meter. As expected, it started to run when we used the washer and dryer, which we suspected and have tried to be careful about. We also discovered our problem: it turns out that as modern and fancy this house is it has ancient water heaters without thermostats to regulate the heating of the water. Unlike water heaters that we have been used to in the past, our current water heater doesn’t turn off when the water has been heated - you actually have to turn the breaker off to make it stop running. Basically we’ve continuously been running two huge water heaters since we moved in here. Sigh. I’m glad we finally figured this out because we were starting to wonder how we are going to survive in Beirut when our savings run out - too bad it had to cost us hundreds of dollars to discover this though.

Now we turn the water heaters off in the evenings, and back on in the morning, and then off again during mid-day. It takes the heaters well over an hour to heat up water for a shower or bath, and the water doesn’t go as far as when we had the heater running all the time, but this is a sacrifice we have to make. There’s enough for a 15 minute shower, a bath for the boys, or doing the dishes. To compensate for not having hot water all the time, we’ve also bought hand sanitizers for the bathrooms. I wonder if this is what the other people in our building do, or if they just wash their hands in cold water. I sure hope that is not the case at the plastic surgery clinic on the second floor. Although they probably don’t have to worry about their bill.

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