I was recently asked about utility bills in Panama.
In this article, I share what we pay in utility costs. I also compare our utility bills here to our bills in the US.
First of all, bill paying in Puerto Armuelles has not been a big preoccupation for us.
Bills here are so much lower than they are back in Seattle.
Utility Bill Cost Comparison
As you can see from the photo of the water bill (Instituto de Acueductos y Acantarillados or IDAAN), our water bill for June was $4.94, for unlimited water use.
By comparison, our water bill in Seattle is typically $150 per month in the winter, and up to $250 in summer. In Seattle, they charge you for the water both going in and going out of your house.
- $4.94/mo – Puerto Armuelles
- $175/mo (average) – Seattle
Our electricity bill in Puerto Armuelles is typically $35 per month. In Seattle, our summer electricity bill is about $300. Our highest winter bill was over $450 (we have electric heating).
- $35/mo – Puerto Armuelles
- $325/mo (average) – Seattle
About Our Electricity Usage
We do not have air conditioning, but we are heavy users of fans and have a big and old refrigerator. We also have children who never remember to turn off a fan or light they are not using(!) You can see our electric bill below. Click on it to make it larger.
Electricity Rates Seattle vs Panama City
I looked up the electric rates in Seattle and Panama City to get a better comparison. 2 big cities.
- $2.14 for 1st 10kWh in Panama City
- $5.16 for 1st 10kWH in Seattle
Panama Has 3-tiered Electricity Rates
Electricity in Panama has 3 rates, depending upon your use.
If you use less than 300 kWh, your rate is subsidized. Which is how some people have monthly electricity bills of only $4. If you use between 300- 750 kWh, you pay at a higher rate. If you use more than 750kWh, you pay at the highest rate. I couldn’t figure out what that rate was, but that is the breakdown per kWh.
Charges Vary by Location
From conversations and reading, it seems clear that the rate charged at each of those kWh levels varies across the country.
Maybe it has something to do with whether your area is covered by Union Fenosa vs. Gas Natural Fenosa vs. the 2 electrical distributors (Empresa de Distribución Eléctrica Metro Oeste (Edemet), and Empresa de Distribución Eléctrica Chiriquí (Edechi) vs. Enca, which serves the northeast area of Panama
Gas Natural Fenosa of Spain is in charge of almost all the electricity in Panama though. Gas Natural Fenosa merged with Union Fenosa in 2009 and since then they bought 51% of the electricity distributors Edemet and Edechi. And they keep expanding. Perhaps all these subsidiaries and companies maintain separate rate structures? In Puerto Armuelles, the electricity bill (above) is issued by Gas Natural Fenosa, although everyone refers to it as Union Fenosa.
A/C and Your Electric Bill
In general, if you use A/C all day every day, your electricity bill will likely be close to $300/month. If you use your A/C less, say just in your bedroom, your electricity bill will be more in the $100 to $150/month range.
Our gas bill in Seattle is around $100/month. Here in Puerto, where there are no in-ground gas pipes, our bottled gas bill for our propane range/stovetop and our propane dryer is about $10/month. $5 a month for each bottle.
- $10/mo – Puerto Armuelles
- $100/mo – Seattle
Annual Utility Cost Comparison
- $600/year – Puerto Armuelles
- $7,000/year – Seattle
As you can see, compared to our costs in Seattle, we have substantial savings in our home utility bills in Puerto Armuelles.
Now for a question, I also get, “how to pay your utility bills in Panama”. In that article about paying utility bills, I also give some information on a few other household bills such as
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Links to Panama utility companies
Gas Natural Fenosa – Electricity
IDAAN – Water