As well as paying rent, those living in leased accommodation will almost always be required to fork out separately on utilities likewise on a monthly basis but instead settled in arrears. In Chiang Mai, mains power is supplied by the state-owned Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and although consistently charged per unit (kWh) of consumption, the actual rate is governed by the type of property in which you live.
Condo residents and those living in a house will have their electric meter read once a month by a representative of the PEA, a printed invoice left in real-time and billed according to what’s called the Government –and the cheapest- rate. At the moment, a normal residential tariff with a monthly electricity consumption exceeding 150 kWh is tiered between 3.25 and 4.42 baht per unit; on top of however many units of electricity were used in the month before, a PEA bill also includes a fixed service charge (currently 38.22 baht), a variable fuel adjustment charge (designated ‘Ft’ and presently -37.29 satang per kWh) and, of the combined total, a further 7% collected in the form of VAT (sales tax).
In contrast, those who rent an apartment (serviced or otherwise) will have their electricity invoice produced in-house with the rate set by the building owner and which, far more often than not, will be marked up relative to the Government tariff; so much so, in fact, that it’s not at all unusual for apartment tenants to be charged more than double the rate for electricity compared to those occupying a condo or a house.
As a guide, someone living alone would be expected to get through in the region of 40 to 55 units of electricity per month without, that is, using air-conditioning; operating which (and to a lesser extent, a fridge/freezer) will inflate the cost of your electric bill exponentially and more so if the A/C is old with a low energy-efficiency rating or has gone unmaintained.
Water, on the other hand, is provided either through the municipal supply courtesy of the state-owned Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) or, more typically at residential properties in Chiang Mai, from ground or surface water sources. Normally, water is priced per unit (m3) of consumption though at some accommodation can be billed at a flat rate (commonly 100 to 300 baht) per month irrespective of usage or a fixed charge for a given allowance of units or, on occasion, included –without restriction on the amount used- as part of your monthly rental payment. Overall, water rates vary from as little as 10 baht to seldom more than 40 baht per unit.
As is the case at many houses and a few condominiums, residents will have their water meter read every month by a representative of the PWA, a printed invoice (almost identical in appearance to those from the PEA) deposited at the time and pay only the Government rate. At present, the residential tariff for Chiang Mai with a monthly water consumption of up to 50 m3 is tiered between 10.2 and 21.2 baht; in addition to however many units of water were used in the previous month, a PWA bill also comprises a fixed standing charge (currently 30 baht) and, of the subtotal, a further 7% levied in the form of VAT. Those properties which boast their own water supply, however, bill their residents directly with the rate appointed independently of the PWA but which habitually will be higher than the prevailing Government tariff (albeit exclusive of a stated standing charge and sales tax).
As a guide, someone living alone would ordinarily anticipate using only 2 to 4 units of water a month; staying in a house with a garden which needs regular watering or in a property with bathtub and using it routinely will naturally result in steeper water bills.