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Your CFE Electric Bill Explained at Last! Plus Tips for Keeping it Low!

CFE Playa DEl Carmen

Most people are confused when the white and green CFE bills comes and have no idea how they magically come up with the amount you owe. Here is a (hopefully)  simple explanation of how to read this bill and some simple things you can do to conserve energy in your home so the bill is not too large. This is important since electricity is the most expensive utility in Mexico.

CFE in Mexico-Your electric company

CFE stands for the Federal Commission of Electricity. This is the same company that supplies all of Mexico the power so no matter where you move you will have a CFE bill. The CFE supplies power to 35.3 million customers which represents almost 100 million people with about 1 million new customers a year as the middle class expands and young people move into new homes.

Note: This is why your CFE bill is so important. Not only is it what you owe for electricity but is acts like an id. Many government agency’s will require you to have a copy of it when going for services.  Also businesses like your bank and cable company will use the CFE bill as a confirmation of your address. Always save you bills and make current copies for use when opening other accounts or even immigration.

CFE and Rates

Since CFE is the electric company for Mexico, the entire country is divided up in to areas with different electric rates. This is actually more fair because different regions of Mexico are hotter then others and you get a lower rate in a hotter place since you need to use more to keep cool. From the map on the below you can see we are in tarifa 1b. Since Playa Del Carmen is in 1b area, the energy rates are as follows.

CFE Playa Del Carmen

Note: There is a slight difference in summer rates and don’t forget IVA(tax) is added on to your bill. Bills come every two months.

Basico: up to the first 250 Kwh the price is o.713

Intermedio: from 250-450 kwh the price is .838

Excedente: over 450 kwh the price is 2.862

So the more power you use the more you will pay. This seems fair and for most people living a more simple life this means energy is more affordable. People that use air conditioning all the time will pay more and usually people that do use it can afford to pay for the service. Most households or apartments are paying around 400-800 pesos for a two month bill. For people that use a lot of air conditioning expect bills to be from 1000-2000 pesos a month.

DAC electricity rate

DAC stands for high domestic consumption. If you have DAC on your bill it means that you or the people before you have used on average for 12 months over 800 kwh of electricity per billing cycle (every two month period) The bad thing about getting into this rate is the fact you will be paying more and you don’t get to take advantage of the government subsidy for electric.

My electric bill is so high!!!! Why?

Is your bill looking a little higher then you think it should be? Here are several things you need to look at:

  1. Do you have the  dreaded DAC rate?
  2. Do you have “domestico” under “Uso” on your bill? You don’t want to be paying as a business. Some apartments in mixed use buildings can be miscategorized.
  3. Have your meter checked. It could be faulty.
  4. Make sure it is your bill. It may be in an old name or the owners name of your apartment so you don’t catch it if there are multiple address under that name.
  5. Check to see if the numbers of usage are what your meter say.
  6. If you are in an apartment building are you sure that only your stuff is hooked up to your meter? This is going to be hard to check. You can turn off all your circuit breakers and if the lights in the hall or that air conditioner that is always running stops, then you might have a hint of what is going on (or turn everything off and unplug everything and see if your meter is still moving). That is going to be a conversation you are going to have to have with your landlord.

Conservation and Money Saving Tips for your electric bill in Mexico

Saving money on your electric bills starts before you move into your apartment or house. (see our article on Considerations when looking at property in Playa Del Carmen for more information). If you are looking to rent an apartment, knowing what you are going to be paying should be important for you because it actually effects the price of your rental. A good tip is ask to see the previous bills to see what people have been paying. Of course everyone has different usage of electricity but if the rate is the Dac rate then you know that you will be paying the premium price for electricity until it comes back down.

Besides looking at the previous bills, look at the home or apartment with energy in mind. Here is what to look for:

  • Are the exterior walls in full sun during the day?
  • Are there trees around that shade your place?
  • Does the place have an old window unit for AC or a more efficient mini split air conditioner?
  • If a dryer comes with the unit, is it gas or electric? (gas being cheaper of the two)
  • How is the hot water heated and cooking done?
  • Are the ceilings low so hot air is not able to rise and keep the living space cooler?
  • Does the stove have a vent above it to evacuate hot air? Many do not surprisingly.
These are all things that will give you clues as to how much your energy cost will be. It may not seem like something you really what to think about when moving in but if you can imagine the rent being 1000 more pesos a month you would think about it, so you should consider energy efficiency.

Here are some tips to conserve energy for your CFE bill in Mexico

1. Use florescent light bulbs. These have come a long way since the stark white lights that they used to be. You can get warm florescent lights or use lamp shades that buffer the white light. Not only do old light bulbs give off heat (which makes your home hotter and you have to use more ac to cool it) but they use 4 times more energy!

2.  Painting your house outside a light color will reflect light and keep your home cooler. Painting it a light color inside will keep your home brighter and you will need less energy to illuminate the interior.

3. Use air conditioning when you are home or just in the bedroom. Air conditioning is one of the most expensive things to use here. If you own your home you should consider steps to insulate your home better to save in the long run on energy. Insulation here is not really used and walls are often just concrete blocks. Keep your filters clean on air-conditioning units for better energy usage. Consider a year maintenance check perhaps at the beginning of the hot season in May.

4. Use fans rather then air conditioning. A good fan can move a lot of air and you will not have the high contrast to the heat and the cold in the house. This can help you adapt to the climate better here. Also clean fans to make them work more efficiently. It is amazing how much dust and oil from the air collect on your fan and how it affects efficiency.

5.  When choosing appliances look at the yearly energy consumption. Refrigerators being the most important thing to consider since they consume the most electricity. This is usually that yellow tag.

6. Keep your refrigerator away from the stove and make sure it is not in direct sunlight. Clean the seals on the door and make sure the temperature setting is overly cool. Since your refrigerator gives off heat, you may consider putting it in a space that will allow this heat to escape. Clean the back of the refrigerator. Don’t put hot food in the refrigerator. Let it cool outside so the refrigerator does not have to work so hard in cooling it down.

7. Close your curtains during the day to block out the sun.

8. Open your windows at night to let the slightly cooler air in.

9. Don’t use appliances, air conditions, pool pumps that are too big for what you need.

Tip: Make sure you get your bill. As stated above it is an important document and you want to have it in order to pay on time. The mail delivery system is very different here and many homes do not have a mail box. What few things are hand delivered are often stuck in a door or even a bush. So learn about when your bill comes and look for it. Also know where it is usually placed. If you live in a condo complex sometimes they get all of them and hand deliver to the individual condos.

How to pay your CFE bill

You can pay your bill up until two days in advance your due date at a convenience store. There is a small commission you pay for the service. At the office of CFE there is a drive up window and automatic machines that you can use to pay your bill. The machines are relatively easy to use. You scan your bill, insert money and you get your change and a receipt.

Sometimes there are lines to use the machines and if you like self torture you go inside and stand in line to pay your bill.

The main CFE office in Playa is located on the corner of 40th Avenue and 22nd Street.

15 Comments on Your CFE Electric Bill Explained at Last! Plus Tips for Keeping it Low!

  1. Eileen Armand // November 10, 2016 at 3:18 PM // Reply

    Thanks for these good tips. I just moved to Playa. It is hard to figure it all out on my own.
    Keep up the good work! You realize, lots of persons are hunting around for this information, you can help them greatly.

  2. CFE can be hard to understand but you made a good explanation of this bill I get.

  3. Awesome! I was trying to figure out the electric bill for a while.

  4. Hi there, just wanted to mention, I loved how you explain things for living in Playa Del Carmen. Very nice site.

  5. Beatriz Martina // December 2, 2016 at 11:59 PM // Reply

    I like this web sie very much so much great info. I just moved to Playa Del Carmen and need to figure everything out.

  6. I was wondering. CFE is government owned and operated, so do they offer an INAPAM discount?

    • Hello Richard

      CFE is a government run agency if you will. We do not believe they give discounts to older people. We have looked at their website and there is nothing there about it. The rates are fairly low as it is and favors people that use little electric to give lower rates.

  7. I just setup with Switch App, can see my bill, do you know if you can pay with US credit card or only pre load money ?

    • Hello Fred. Sorry we have not heard of that app. If you find out, let us know, we would be interested in adding the information here. Thanks.

  8. Can I pay with a credit card

  9. I’m very happy to discover this page. I want to to thank you
    for your time in answering many of my questions about moving to Playa Del Carmen.
    I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it.

  10. Vincent Gioia // January 2, 2017 at 4:58 PM // Reply

    Some services, like water cost and property tax, give a discount to older people for the service. Is there a discount or lower charge for electricity for older people?

    • Hello

      There is a discount program but you will need a special ID in Mexico for that. You can check into IPAN card. It basically is more for older Mexicans that cannot afford very much. The electricity is very affordable in Mexico unless you use a lot, and in that case you can afford to pay for it.

  11. A. Mercera // March 2, 2017 at 3:57 PM // Reply

    I have found it hard to read my CFE bill thanks for the tips.

  12. Stone Wolfsong // April 11, 2017 at 10:51 AM // Reply

    Thank you. This was very helpful!

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