* This story and numbers are written based on the average family usage with CFE and may not apply to everyone. Costs depend on your personal usage and lifestyle and the more you use in Mexico the more you pay per KW. However the numbers are based on CFE and US Department of Energy numbers and are believed to be factual.
The Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE) in Mexico supplies power to the entire country, totaling nearly 100 million people and adding about one million new customers each year as the middle class expands and the number of expats living in Mexico continues to rise.
Although you may find the CFE Electric Bill to be a bit confusing at first, they are actually easy to read once you understand a few key points, and there are plenty of ways you can conserve energy and reduce the amount you owe. It’s very important to understand your CFE Electric Bill and remain in good standing, because it serves as a form of identification for many government agencies, which will require you to present a copy of it in order to receive services. Cable companies, banks and other businesses will also ask to see a copy as a confirmation of address.
Understanding CFE Rates
As a way to make services affordable and fair for everyone, different areas of Mexico are charged different rates for power, since some areas are much hotter than others. Click here to see a map that shows the different areas, or tarifas, in order to determine the energy rate in a specific area. For example, Playa del Carmen, Cancun and other areas along Mexico’s Caribbean coast on the Yucatan Peninusla are located in area 1b, which charges a maximum of 2.862 per kwh for usage exceeding 450 kwh. According to International Living, the average cost of utilities in Mexico is around $200, but other estimates are as low as $25 or $50, so like anywhere else in the world it also depends on the size of your home, usage habits, etc.
In Mexico, your CFE Electric Bill will come every two months. Generally speaking, if you live in a larger home and opt to use air conditioning, you will pay more – probably at least $100 per month. If you live in a smaller home or condo, it can be as low as $30 per month on average, even if you opt to turn on the air conditioning during peak times. Regardless, the cost of utilities in Mexico is quite affordable and often winds up being much less than you would pay in the U.S. if you learn the system of allotted usage and overages.
The Mexican government also rewards those who conserve electricity by offering a subsidy up to half of your electric bill. If you live in Mexico and want to run electricity like you did in the United States you will hammered with overage fees and higher rates per KW. It takes time how learn the best ways to conserve, but once you do you can lower your electric bill to the national average of $40 USD per month.
DAC Rate Explained
The DAC rate on your CFE bill stands for High Domestic Consumption, so if this appears on your bill it means that you (or the people who lived there before you) have used an average of more than 800 kwh of electricity per billing cycle for the last 12 months. Although this means you will be paying more for power in the short term, there are a few things you should check to reduce charges in the future:
1. Some apartments in mixed-use buildings can be miscategorized, so make sure you are not being charged as a business. It should say “domestico” under “Uso” on your bill.
2. Have your meter checked to ensure it is functioning properly.
3. Make sure it is actually YOUR bill and not still registered under the names of previous owners and/or does not include multiple addresses.
4. Compare the numbers of usage to what your meter says.
5. If you live in an apartment or condo, make sure nothing else in the building (hall lights, outdoor lights, etc.) is hooked up to your meter.
If you do see DAC on your bill and want to lower it immediately, you can also simply change the name on the bill to that of your spouse, significant other or roommate, which will reset the CFE billing rate and the cycle will start anew. In fact, if you are ever thrown back into the DAC at some point in the future, you can even change the name back to your own to reset the cycle again, and you can continue doing this as many times as you would like – it’s what the locals do! Whatever you do, just don’t try to “rig” the electric meter – this is likely to result in at least a 100,000-peso fine and will also cause countless headaches when you try to get the service turned back on.
Before buying property in Mexico, it’s smart to look at past charges for utilities in the building before signing on the dotted line. Also, if the exterior walls are in full sun during large parts of the day, you can generally expect to pay more than if there are trees to provide shade.
Keep in mind that window units tend to use more electricity than newer, energy saving central air units, and also be sure to check how the hot water is heated and if the dryer and stove are gas or electric. Other considerations before making a purchase include ceiling height (lower ceilings typically make for hotter interior spaces) and ventilation, especially in the kitchen.
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Once you’ve found the ideal home in Mexico, there are still a variety of easy ways to reduce your energy consumption, even if the bills aren’t too high to begin with! For example, replacing regular light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs, painting the home’s exterior a lighter color and using air conditioning only when it’s really hot and fans won’t do, and/or only when you are home to enjoy it, are all simple tricks that can significantly reduce consumption.
When buying new appliances, select the smallest size that will work for your needs, and choose energy-efficient options whenever possible. Keep the refrigerator away from the stove and out of direct sunlight to prevent it from running overtime. Also, make sure its door seals are secure, keep the back of the refrigerator clean and avoid putting food inside while it is still hot.
Finally, close curtains to block direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day and open the windows at night to allow cool air in. This will help you adapt to Mexico’s climate and will allow you to appreciate the sweet ocean breeze if you live in one of the nation’s many popular coastal towns!