The cost of living

St. John  is in the middle of the ocean.  Practically everything you eat or buy has had a long boat ride from somewhere.  Basic services like electricity and telephone are produced locally, but not without time, effort, raw materials, and lots of expense. 

This month’s bill from the Water and Power Authority will give you a sense of what home owners face.  Blue Tang is a two-bedroom house.  The bill is for the last month.

No air conditioning was used. This was for a time  when we, the owners, were in residence, i.e.  We really watch the utility use. 

Bottom line: take a look at the cost per kilowatt hour:  33 cents.  Compare that with your own bill in the states.

So, now you know why the management companies urge renters to conserve electricity.

11 thoughts on “The cost of living”

  1. Where I live in Florida we pay .0973 per KWH for the first 1000 used, then .1173 per KWH above 1000. So yes, you’re paying triple what I pay.
    What stands out though, besides your high KWH costs, is the total usage. I live in a 4-bedroom, 2400 sq ft house with all electrical appliances – including the water heater. We had 12 days in March where the temperature hit 79 or above, with 5 of those days hitting the high 80’s. The thermostat on my air-conditioner is set for 77, so it ran for a least a third of the month. My total KWH usage was 853.
    So, does the cistern pump and the pool account for why your usage is double mine?

  2. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, or the meter. Our pool pump runs (I think) six hours a day. At least it does when I’m there. WShen we arrive sometimes, we see the pool guys have set the pump to run as long as 12 hours a day.
    The cistern pump doesn’t run much at all … if guests conserve water 🙂 IF.

  3. Frank: How widespread is the use of solar in the USVI? I can’t remember seeing solar installations anywhere on St John. It seems to me that if you could make an economic case for solar anywhere in the US (and there aren’t too many places where you can), even if it were just for hot water heating, that it would be there. What do you think the resistance is?

  4. Something is using a lot of kwh at your house, pool pump a likely culprit, fans on 24/7?,many electronics on or at standby?, exterior lighting on all night?,multiple hot water heaters? do an energy analysis it may be worth it if it can pinpoint some optional uses on the high consumption items.
    My house in STT w/ electric stove,3 bdr,no pool- no a/c, mostly cfl bulbs uses less than 10 kwh a day , year round – yours is over 50 kwh/day.
    As a rental villa there may be little you can do that won’t change the amenity level you want to provide – other than raise the rental price.

  5. To answer Barbara’s question, I think initial set-up cost is what keeps many people from going solar. There are at least a few houses here and on STT that are completely solar and/or wind powered and are off the WAPA grip entirely. I know of two solar “experts” who do solar installations on STJ. We personally have solar hot water heating (for which the VI government sent me a $700 incentive rebate check) as do one of our neighbors and I am thinking of converting the pool pump to solar, although the cost of this is in the 5K range.

  6. Howard: How long do you figure is the payback on that pool pump conversion? Also: it seems that there needs to be a way to incentivize renters to conserve water and electricity-I heard from a rental manager that it’s not unusual for rental guests to go out all day and leave the a/c on 72 with the windows/sliders open, and same thing at night because they like the breeze. That’s serious money at $.40/kWH. Someone needs to develop a way to monitor energy usage in real-time, and surcharge those guests who are hogs.

  7. Barbara – this is making many assumptions about cost, etc. but I believe it costs about $20 per month for every hour we run our pool pump. We set it for 8 hours a day, so that’s $160/month. Using that math, it would take between 2 and 3 years to recoup the cost of the solar conversion. Not too bad. As far as rental energy hogs, there are probably devices that will shut off the AC if an open door/window is detected, but I’m no expert in this field as I don’t rent out my home and haven’t felt the need for AC at all yet this year.

  8. Is the pool a legitimate pool, or one of those squares that is partially photographed at an angle for the brochures? If the latter, I say ditch it and save the monthly expense to keep the pump going.

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