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Spanish Views from a Small Town

Thoughts about life in a small Spanish town from a transplanted American, commenting on things that catch my attention.

Not so Fast, 29 & 30. Electric Shock.
03 August 2021 @ 18:47

The new electric rates are wreaking havoc with my daily habits. 

I now use the washing machine in the shoulder hours of the afternoon, since I don't get up early enough for a load to finish by ten in the morning. On the nice days we have, that doesn't matter too much. The days are still long, and the second load, if there is one before the shoulder rates end at six in the evening, still has time to mostly dry before the sun sets; it's simply strung out again the following morning. 

In the winter, that means either hanging the clothes outside the next day, when we have sun, or draping it permanently every night around the wood-burning stove (No, we don't have a dryer, and with the electric rates going steadily in an upward direction, we don't need another major electric appliance.). 

Another habit is trying to wash my hair before ten in the morning. Not so much because of the electric pump that is bringing up water from the well, which uses little electricity, but because of the 2000 watt hair dryer. Five minutes with the dryer at full speed, and I'm sure it would turn out cheaper to wash and dry my hair at the hair dresser's. 

Then, there's the microwave. For short pings, fine, but my previous habit of defrosting meat or fish I pulled out of the freezer minutes before making lunch because I forgot all about it, is smoke. Now, I think about lunch as soon as I get up, and give the package time to defrost on the counter top, nicely covered. If I see it still needs more time, I put it in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. 

Television doesn't bother me as much because it's only turned on for about three quarters of an hour at midday, and then in the evening. The computer has been programmed to hibernate if it's unused for a half hour, so that's not so bad, either. The air purifier isn't being used during my classes because I open the window now, in summer. Winter will be a problem. A greater problem will be the heater. I think this fall it might be a good idea to search for one with less wattage. The study, at least, isn't very big. If it weren't for the fact that kids would bump into it with their book bags and maybe set things on fire, a gas powered one that runs on a gas canister might have been a good idea. As things are, I think they´ll be keeping on their coats this winter.

Not that my bill has risen very much by most standards. Before the change in rates, my bill was around €21 or €25. The one that came after the change was over €28. But in winter I can see it climbing to €40 or more, if we give rein to our whims. Before anyone says, "how little you pay!", consider this: our house still has the same kilowatts my parents contracted when electricity was introduced to the villages over sixty years ago, 2.2kW. For our needs, it's enough, but we also have to keep an eye out. We can't run the microwave and the hair dryer at the same time, for example. Or the microwave and a space heater. Or, if it worked, the oven and a hair dryer. If we run those things at the same time, the switch says it's tired and switches off. My house next door, where my parents used to live, has 3.3kW, and the bill is at least ten euros higher with only the freezer and the washing machine being used in it. So, with both houses, I pay enough.

No one is happy with this rate change. Everyone is even more annoyed with the electric companies that have record profits, yet complain they aren't charging enough. Some people, especially on the political left, are calling for the formation of a public energy company, with regulated costs, just like the rapacious energy companies used to be. A good blog post to read about this matter, with the point of view of an Australian living in Barcelona, is this one. Once upon a time, the state participated in the companies, forcing them to charge set rates. But, with the liberalization of the market place (because, you know, the market should decide how much consumers should be fleeced), the state hied itself from the boards of directors, sold off its shares to the remaining share holders, and rates took off like the Concorde, into the stratosphere. 

Will anybody listen to us? Of course not. Just shut up and hand over the money.

Life continues.

Danger, Power Line, Electric Shock


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