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UTILITY BILLS In Chiang Mai

Besides the cost of rent, those living in leased accommodation will almost always have to pay utility charges separately and likewise on a monthly basis but instead paid in arrears. In Chiang Mai, mains electricity is supplied by the state-owned Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and consistently charged per unit of consumption although energy rates do vary in accordance with the property type. Those living in either a condo or a house/moo baan will be billed by the PEA directly and pay only the Government –cheapest- rates. Although a normal residential tariff sets the rate to be the same throughout the day and night, rates are nevertheless tiered depending on the precise amount of electricity consumed but overall 4 baht per unit (kWh) is typical for a private household; in addition to the cost of however many units of electricity were consumed in the previous month, an electricity bill also comprises a fixed service charge (currently 38.22 baht), a fuel tariff (designated as ‘Ft’ and revised every 4 months but presently 0.4638 baht per unit of electricity), of that combined total, a further 7% is added in the form of VAT. As a benchmark, leaving a laptop, a broadband router and a mid-sized fridge/freezer plugged in round-the-clock with incidental use of a microwave oven and other countertop kitchen appliances, mains lighting for up to 13 hours and ad hoc charging of various types of electronic device will be expected to consume in the region of 45 to 55 units per month; operating air-conditioning (and to a lesser extent, a fridge/freezer), however, will increase the cost of electricity exponentially and more so if the air-conditioning unit(s)/fridge-freezer is (are) old with a low energy-efficiency rating and/or have gone unmaintained. Those living in an apartment (serviced or otherwise), on the other hand, will have their electricity rate marked up by the apartment owner and which, in the vast majority of instances, will be higher than the Government rate, indeed up to 10 baht per unit; consequently, electricity bills for those living in an apartment can be over twice as high as for those living in a condo or house.

Water is provided either from the city’s own water supply courtesy of the state-owned Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) or, as is the case at many properties throughout Chiang Mai, from ground or surface water sources (through the use of a holding tank or sunken well) and tenants billed accordingly; like with electricity, water is normally charged per unit (m3) of consumption but can alternatively be charged as a flat rate per month (100 to 300 baht is common) regardless of usage, as a fixed rate for a given number of units and thereafter charged for each additional unit or, occasionally, inclusive of the monthly rent and thus independent of the amount consumed. Depending on the source of the tenant’s mains water, rates charged per unit of consumption cost from just under 10 to as much as 40 baht per unit. Those billed by the PWA directly (as is the case in certain houses/moo baan and some condos) pay only the tiered Government –cheapest- rates (which for Chiang Mai are currently between 10.2 and 21.2 baht per unit for the first 50 units of consumption) in addition to a fixed standing charge (presently 30 baht) and, of the combined total, a further 7% is added in the form of VAT; more commonly (in all other houses/moo baan, most condos and all apartments) though billed by the rental property directly and which, in the vast majority of instances, will be higher than the Government rates (though some rental properties do only bill the unit rate and exclude both a standing charge and VAT). As a guide, showering once or twice daily, washing dishes every day or two, normal use of the toilet and tap water to wash hands and brush teeth, each person would ordinarily be expected to use only 2 to 4 units of water per month; residing in a house with a garden which requires regular watering or living in a property with a bath and using it routinely, for example, will obviously result in proportionately higher bills.

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