Electricity, do your bills seem high?

imgres When you get your monthly bill from CFE, do you go into mild shock and think I can’t have possibly used that much power?  Well, every modern electrical device in your house, comes with a price attached. TV’s, Sat systems, laptop computers, microwaves, for example all use power even when they are not turned on. They don’t use much power, but if you have a couple of laptops, a couple of smart phones, 2 TV’s, Radio clocks in bedrooms, it can all add up and add to the CFE bill. However, the biggest user of all outside of A/C units, is the good old fridge. A modern fridge is nothing more than an an electrically powered compressor and evaporator unit, on a temperature switch. The problem is, they are front opening and have very little insulation. Every time you open the fridge door, the cold air pours out like water and is replaced by warm air. Now the fridge has to turn on again to cool it down. Believe it or not almost all modern fridges, also have a heating circuit on a timer. This heater is the frost free feature of your fridge. So not only is it sucking electricity to cool, it is also burning it up on the heater phase. Not much you can do about it, other than to ensure you have a modern energy efficient model and try and moderate the opening and closing of the doors.

But that is not what I was planning on discussing. What I want to discuss is electrical leakage. Electrical leakage can be a small but constant drain of electricity from the system. A good analogy is a small drip from a faucet, doesn’t seem like a lot, but over time it sure adds up. Electrical leakage in Mexican homes can come from a variety of sources. Chaffed wires are a good source of leakage, not enough to trip a breaker, but they could be the equivalent of a 50 watt bulb burning 24/7. Since you are billed by Kilowatt hours used, a little math will show you are losing 1.2 Kilowatts a day or 438 kilowatts a year. Now if you happen to be a high consumer to start with and are in the excedente category. That 438 Kw will cost you roughly 1200 pesos more a year.

There are numerous sources of electrical leaks. Ants are good one, they just love electrical wires. The wires are the perfect ant super highway, taking them to every room in your house. Ever found ants and stood there thinking, “where the hell did they come from?” Well check around wall sockets. The other problem with ants is for some reason they like to chew wire coatings. It is good insurance to pop the socket covers off and spray ant killer inside or sprinkle in ant powder as preventative medicine. I have already discussed chaffed wires which can be another issue, as can the electrical tape coming off wires in junction boxes, especially ones on the roof for A/C. Rain supplies a nice path for a small leak to find ground and up your usage.

Ok, how do you test for leakage?  The easy way is to turn off the main breaker to the house and all the other breakers and unplug everything and turn all lights and any other consumer off ( this is really important). Now go check your meter, if it is spinning even slightly you have an issue and more importantly the problem is not in your actual house circuits but between the meter and your main breaker. If you see no movement, switch on the main house breaker and again check for movement. Now turn on the individual circuits, one at a time and watch the meter. If you find one particular breaker causes the meter to spin, double check that nothing is drawing power on that circuit, like a tinaco sensor that is not plugged in, but hard wired. If you confirm nothing should be using power, you have located an electrical leak on that circuit. Now check inside all the plug boxes and switch boxes on that circuit to see if there are any signs of chaffing or other issues. If you can find the issue and fix it yourself, great. If not, maybe it is time to call an expert and see where the real issue is, before it gets worse or causes a wire fire,

A geography lesson

I keep seeing various advertisements from competitors, saying they build to North American Standard (NAS). Well I hate to break the news to them, but MEXICO is in North America, as is Belize or New York. So what exactly are they saying, is it that they build to the lowest possible standard or the highest or is it just advertising mumbo jumbo and they never learned simple geography. Why not put it to a simple test. A while back, a fellow came here from North of the Mexican border (NOB) and set up shop as a contractor, he was originally a carpenter (long gone now). He put out ads saying he built everything to North American Standard (what ever that means) and that he had numerous trade certificates for construction. Sounds impressive right? How about we look at house wiring as one example of supposed NAS. In Yucatan Mexico, house wiring is stranded wire not solid, so how can he build to NAS, if he can’t even get the material? Ever notice wiring here is wrapped in tape and marret’s are not used at junctions. Simple reason, wire nuts are meant for solid core wire and if used on stranded wire it is easy to get one of the strands outside of the marret and cause a possible short. But, taping wires is not allowed (NOB) so once again how do they build to NAS? The answer is simple they don’t, after all most houses (NOB) are wood framed construction, not cinder block as used in Mexico. So a contractor may have years of experience building in the USA or Canada, but that really means nothing in the grand scheme of things here. Houses are not made of wood here, nor are the walls made of drywall and insulated. What really needs to be asked is how many block houses have they built on rock foundations and then finished with viga supported roofs. Obviously these supposed contractor’s are simply relying on the Mexican construction crews to get the job done and the only NAS maybe a smooth wall finish and ground wires.

So if you are talking to a contractor and they say they do everything to NORTH AMERICAN STANDARD, remind them Mexico is in North America, as is Belize, so what standard do they mean and more importantly will every detail be to the same standard. Bet it won’t !

New build or total renovation

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No matter, whether you are building a new beach house or renovating a classic colonial in Merida’s Centro district. We can assist to in doing it right. We build in both locations and know the specific techniques required to build properly, in both city and beach. We are happy to work with your architects plans or we can assist you to have your dream home, designed or remodelled from the ground up, We have taken on staff Ana Burgos. Ana is a an experienced, architect designer, who can capture your ideas and thoughts and make your dreams a functional reality.

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