I got my own place last year. It was on the 57th floor, with 18-ft floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and a beautiful view of the city. I love it.
Everything was light and lovey-dovey until on my first month there I was shocked to see my first Meralco bill. It was roughly P7,000. I live alone, out during the day, and had friends over only on the weekends.
To compare, I asked my peers about their bills and found mine was exceptionally high.
Since I work in Meralco, I wanted to get to the bottom of my electric bill. One of my projects was a campaign called “Bright Ideas” which educates consumers about electricity so they can make the right choices. Meralco has a PowerLab where they test appliances based on consumption. The engineer told me there was really no secret sauce to lowering electricity, except to consume less.
Auditing my place
So I did an audit of my unit. It turns out my floor-to-ceiling windows are both blessing and a curse. Sure, I have a fantastic view, but it also made my 65 sqm. place as hot as inferno during the day. The heat also made ALL of my appliance work harder, therefore consuming more electricity.
Then, I counted my lights—which were already built in when I got the place. I have a total of 35 ceiling lights and 12 switches. My room alone has a total of 12 ceiling lights, with 3 switches.
Culprit; It’s really your Aircon
The Power Lab Engineer told me that aircon is usually the reason for high electric bill. I wanted to test that theory, so in the entire month of August, I didn’t turn on my air conditioner on. He was right. My bill dramatically went down from 7k to P1,700.
Based on sample cost per consumption, I was able to put a price on my 2.5 hp aircon consumption. Aircon usage for 8 hours a night is around P200—or one Starbucks drink. Monthly was around 6k—the price of a month of good sleep. Or 2 to 3 restaurant meals with alcohol. It’s easier to make decisions when you know the value of what you’re paying for.
Optimizing my place
If you go to an appliance store today to buy an aircon, the salespeople will likely tell you to buy an inverter aircon—basically a new energy-efficient aircon that will save you almost half of your aircon consumption bill, but at double the price of a non-inverter basic aircon.
I decided that it was worth investing in. But that wasn’t enough. Being in a condo with no balcony, the exhaust of my 2 aircon split type was inside a small room that only has 1 window. The heat coming from the exhaust gets trapped in the small room, therefore making my aircon work harder, and consume more electricity. Based on the recommendation of the aircon guys, I paid extra to move the exhaust in front of a window so it can breathe. That helped my aircon work better, and my room become cooler.
Since my place had a high ceiling, I had ceiling fans placed for better circulation. I also invested in a good fan—a Vornado. I bought blackout shades for my living room. In the afternoon when it’s not so hot, I pull up the shades, and let the natural light come in. No need to open the lights.
I changed all of my bulbs to LED lights, which only costs me 10 cents per hour. For my room, I bought a lamp for my nightstand. I open this instead of the 9 ceiling lights. I also like that it gives the space some mood lighting, which makes me want to sleep.
Not all of my appliances are optimized for energy efficiency. I didn’t bother replacing my 11-year old 50-inch plasma TV, because I found out that a new Smart TV’s cost per hour would only save me a total of 50 pesos every month.
The new Smart TV I was looking at cost 35k. At 50 pesos savings a month (35,000/50= 700 months) or (700 months/12 months a year= 58 years), it would take me 58 years to recoup the cost of a new TV, so, I’d rather not replace my old clunker, and shell out that extra 50 pesos.
The savings is worth the hassle of optimizing my place. I can use what I saved to buy myself more booze. Most of all, because I’m now aware of how I’m spending electricity-wise, I can control or let go of my electric consumption, and my bill doesn’t catch me by surprise.
I understand that for most, their May electric bill was a shock. The March and April billing was a computation of your previous 3 months since we were on lockdown and the linemen were not able to read the meters. Now that the linemen can report for work, your May bill is your “real” bill. If it’s more than the usual, please take into consideration that you were home 24/7, and used up more electricity too. Plus it was hot outside, and that made your appliances work harder.
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If there are adjustments to be made, it will reflect on your next billing. Meralco is highly regulated and is not the kind of company that can include the “fine print” of hidden charges.
Your bill is exactly what you consumed.
I downloaded the Meralco app where you can see your history and electric consumption. Since the app enables me to see my consumption, I was able to “adjust.”
Underneath the bill, the app says that I had an option of paying in 4 to 6 months installments. Because I more or less knew, I was able to prepare for it, and decided to pay in full.
Photos courtesy of the author