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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 rate on your bill (see the categories below)  you will be paying more for electricity. The bad thing about getting into this rate chart is the fact you will be paying more and you don’t get to take advantage of the government subsidy for electric.

Below is the official explanation from the CFE website.

DAC Rate
High Consumption Domestic Tariff
This rate applies when the average bimonthly consumption recorded in the last 12 months is higher according to the following table:

Rate
Limit to enter high consumption tariff
1
500 kWh / bimonthly
1A
600 kWh / bimonthly
1 B
800 kWh / bimonthly
1 C
1,700 kWh / bimonthly
1D
2,000 kWh / bimonthly
1E
4,000 kWh / bimonthly
1F
5,000 kWh / bimonthly

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.

52 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!

  13. Larry Anderson // May 26, 2017 at 9:13 PM // Reply

    Thanks for all of your shared information. I’m wondering when looking for an apartment to rent and you ask to see the last electric bills. Would the landlord have those bills or would the people who had been living there had gotten them. If so how would one go about checking to see if the apartment or condo paying the DAC rate. Also do you know if going over the allowed 800kw for 1 billing cycle of 2 months automatically put you up into the DAC rate?

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 27, 2017 at 7:21 AM // Reply

      The owner of the apartment should have a copy or the original. They should want proof it is paid because the burden is on the building, not the name on the bill. CFE bills are used for official location of residence. So everything from drivers license to Visas will ask for one. Even if the name is not yours, it works. So the name is not important. This means owners can leave it in their name or the tenant can place it in their name. Most of the time it stays in the owners name.

      Here is what CFE’s website says about higher rates. Basically giving limits to what rate you get bumped up to depending on how much you use bimonthly.

      DAC Rate
      High Consumption Domestic Tariff
      This rate applies when the average bimonthly consumption recorded in the last 12 months is higher according to the following table:

      Rate
      Limit to enter high consumption tariff
      1
      500 kWh / bimester
      1A
      600 kWh / bimester
      1 B
      800 kWh / bimester
      1 C
      1,700 kWh / bimester
      1D
      2,000 kWh / bimester
      1E
      4,000 kWh / bimester
      1F
      5,000 kWh / bimester

  14. Christine Krieg // May 28, 2017 at 10:59 AM // Reply

    Thanks! Very helpful. Two questions: where on the bill is the DAC rate indicated if I have it? also do I want the domestico under Uso or not? I just leased an apartment and the bill for the previous 2 months arrived. There are 2 different rates applied “Fuera de Verano” and “Verano”, but they are both different from the rates you list.

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 28, 2017 at 12:10 PM // Reply

      Hello Christine. On the top left of your bill is Tarifa. See what it says there. It will tell you 1B or 1E or something like that. You will want to have domestic under USO because it is for domestic use in your apartment. There are different rates for the hotter months and cooler months. You really don’t need to pay attention to this because it is just calculated automatically for everyone. The most important is the tarifa on your bill and USO.

  15. Mike Yurchison // June 1, 2017 at 8:00 PM // Reply

    Great info on the electric bills. We are considering buying a condo in Puerto Aventuras, but we heard the the electric bills are really high in that area. What should we expect to pay in electricity for a 2 bedroom condo which has a split system (1 in each of the bedrooms and one in the living area). Thanks, Mike

    • Mr.Yucatan // June 1, 2017 at 9:40 PM // Reply

      Hello Mike

      Prices vary so much it might be good to ask your neighbors or even ask the seller to see the bills. If we had to estimate what it would be, perhaps expect to pay 2000-5000 pesos a month. There are always things like, do you have all three air conditioners on all day? Is it a first floor unit with more shade? How big are the rooms? In general though, you can get a feel for what your bills will be like.

  16. it says excedente 400kwh/mes not bimonthly, so I guess it’s gonu up to 800kwh/bimonthly for tariff 1B. and that is an average over the last 12 months, so, if your ac is off for the winter it makes a huge difference.
    Cuando el consumo mensual promedio registrado en los últimos 12 meses sea superior a 400 kWh/mes, se reclasificará el servicio en la Tarifa Doméstica de Alto Consumo (DAC) que le corresponda, de acuerdo a tu localidad

  17. Cristine Kissinger // June 14, 2017 at 5:28 AM // Reply

    If electricity meters are shared by 2 tenents in separate apartments, how can your meter be verified by someone other than the owner? My friend’s
    apartment owner told her she had been given the wrong cfe bill for the past 2 years and presented her with a bill that was 700 pesos more than the usual 200 she used to pay. What can she do about this?
    THANK YOU CRISTINE

    • Mr.Yucatan // June 14, 2017 at 6:41 AM // Reply

      Hello Cristine. Honestly this sounds like a mess. Each apartment should have it’s own meter. So the owner started off in the wrong. You could have CFE come and see what meter is attached to the two apartments and make sure the two tenants have the correct bill and split that one. BUT…CFE will likely fine the owner and make them install another meter. It is not the tenants fault she got the wrong bill from the past. If the current bill is 900 pesos, or is it 450 pesos a month? if it is 450 pesos a month this is still fair. In the end your landlord is in the wrong and in true Mexican fashion the best way is to come to some sort of an agreement. The trump card you have is asking to call CFE and have them sort it out. We don’t think the landlord would go for that and would be more likely to negotiate. It does sound like you have been there for a while and are comfortable. If you decided to move over this, it no doubt would cost you at least 500 pesos more a month in cost of a new apartment and moving. So it sounds like it is better for you to pay a little more and your landlord to accept less on the electric. We hope this plays out well. Let us know what happens.

  18. Cristine Kissinger // June 14, 2017 at 2:41 PM // Reply

    Thank you for answering me so quickly. You are very knowledgeable. I like that. I will pass your information on to my friend. I know she is very appreciative for any help she receives. Thanks again

  19. Cristine Kissinger // June 14, 2017 at 3:04 PM // Reply

    I have a question not related to cfe. I have been searching for landlord/tenent laws specifically for Baja California since each state has their own civil codes that may apply only to that
    state. I was hoping you could point me in the correct direction so I can find this information.
    Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this message.
    Cristine

    • Mr.Yucatan // June 14, 2017 at 3:14 PM // Reply

      Maybe a more simple solution or answer is that only rental contracts signed by a notario are legally binding. Usually this comes with a good fee. For example here it usualy cost one near one months rent to get a notario to sign one. The point being, rental contracts are not worth much in Mexico. Eviction is hard to do but both parties should not let it come to that. Mexico is not a litigious society. It is always better to talk it out or move. Technically someone could live there without paying rent for a while but the tension and stress would not be worth it. It can be a test of wills.

  20. Cristine Kissinger // June 14, 2017 at 3:44 PM // Reply

    Mr. Yucatan,
    Thank you for that interesting information. With all the brouhaha created by Mr. Trump(HE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME),it is important to me that I do everything correctly and necessary to live here legally. I married a Mexican but I am still a foreigner. I will always be an American but Mexico is my 2nd love. Thanks again for all your help. Cristine

  21. William J Marzonie // June 18, 2017 at 8:16 PM // Reply

    On my recent bill the Aportacion Gubernamental was added to my Costo de Production. Previously I see it has always been subtracted. Can you think of any reason this was not just a mistake?

    • Mr.Yucatan // June 19, 2017 at 7:12 AM // Reply

      This must mean that you have used a lot of electricity and the government subsidy is no longer given to you. Now you have the DAC rate.

  22. Hello.. really helpful info. What do you know about the prepaid CFE cards? I am renting in La Paz and that’s what we have. I am trying to project costs because I am paranoid that it will ‘run out’ before I top it off.

    • Mr.Yucatan // July 18, 2017 at 9:12 AM // Reply

      Sorry for the slow reply. We had to find the answer to what you were looking for. Some people have found http://www.web.switch.mx/ a place where they can set up paying for the bills online. We have not used this so do not have any personal experience with it. Hopefully this can help you with paying your CFE.

  23. Can you pay your electric bill with a credit card?

    • Mr.Yucatan // July 13, 2017 at 11:04 AM // Reply

      Hello. You can pay with credit card. There are machines outside of the offices of CFE where you can pay. Be forewarned that the lines are usually 10 minutes or longer for the auto pay.

  24. Annette Husberger // July 24, 2017 at 3:43 PM // Reply

    what is the cost of my CFE bill for July 2017 for Annette Hunsberger

    • Mr.Yucatan // July 25, 2017 at 2:58 PM // Reply

      Hello Annette

      We are not CFE and do not have access to your records. This is just an article we wrote on our website helping people understand the bills. You will need to contact CFE for your bill.

  25. I am familiar with a book on condo law in the State of Jalisco. Do you know of something similar for the federal laws for all of MX or for the State of Baja CA (Norte)?

  26. Why is it that most everything in the world goes down in cost if you buy more of it, like at Sam’s club? But for some reason electricity cost more if I use more. The same cost savings for generation applies, so why?

    • Hello Mark

      This is a good question and there is a good answer. Electricity is more evenly distributed to people when it is priced in this way. If you are a simple farmer with a light, fan and fridge you only pay a low rate for your electricity. If you have a large condo and run AC all day plus have TV’s, fridge, and lots of energy sucking appliances, you do pay a higher rate. The thought is that if you can pay for all that and you consume more than most other people, you should pay for it. Mexico is socialist in many ways and makes it more equal in some manner.

  27. Thank you, once again for critical information!

  28. Can your bill be paid at Mega (even if it is over due)? And why are there 2 lines outside of the building? Which line do you wait in?

    • When your bill is overdue you cannot pay it in places like OXXO. Both lines at CFE are for the machines so you can get in either. Bring change with you because sometimes the machines cannot make more than a certain amount of change. The drive through is faster but then again you need to drive there.

  29. I am so very glad to have come across your website. We have been having nothing but trouble with Cafe. I am having a hard time finding out their rules and responsibilities or contract obligations for service. Our street was meters were checked last year. Cfe charged at least 5 people that were charged and paid for, ” stealing Electricity” as their meters were antiquated and had not been checked for many years. Some people were charged 200o pesos ( pay or get cut off) These people had normal bills of low consumption. The payment was due the day of the check. I was charged 113,000 pesos! My bill at the time was c3000 pesos per month. The people around me just paid it. They just cited corruption and shrugged. I did not understand what was happening and we do not bring that much cash into the country. Cfe would not accept credit cards at all. Cash only. We had to bring in the money according to the law so it took a bit of time. We were cut off of course.
    Luckily our house is equipped with a generator system and can be switched no problem . We bought a generator and had power.
    I went to a lawyer and found that my human rights were violated.
    Cfe should check their meters every 3 years according to their office. Ours was never checked since the house was built in 1983. The equipment, by their own admission, is theirs to maintain. We bought the house in 2010 and moved in in 2012. Cfe has to present their papers in the expat’s language. This is the law. We were charged for 4 years of consumption and then some! We did not understand at first and thought they were changing the meter only. We were accused of ” stealing” electricity. We were not charged through the judicial system of any crime and were tried and sentenced by cfe. Who knows how to steal electricity anyway? We are retired expat’s from Canada.
    This case is the first of its kind to be brought before the courts. People just pay whatever. Even if the meters are fine and never changed.
    This case is finally being heard by the federal court.
    Cfe has no right to charge extra for “stealing” without explanation and proof of wrongdoing
    Cfe must present documents to the owner of the property
    Cfe has no right to cut off service unless the bills are not paid
    cfe must maintain their equipment

    We needed to use the neighbors electricity for a day while I bought a generator so that the refrigerator would keep the food from spooling. I found out that This Is Illegal as well! The poor neighbor is at risk of losing their service. They helped us but only for 5 hours.
    When we bought the house, we did not sign anything like a contract as we were in Canada. The realtor handled that.
    I have been unable to see, read, or obtain a contract. Indeed, after we paid the extortion, they changed our account. I have yet to see any paperwork of service for money.
    Expat’s have been living in Mexico for many years. I find it surprising that this has not come up.
    I suggest that anyone buying would be wise to have cfe check the meter before they buy as the bills presented may not be accurate from the seller.
    Our consumption is high and we have been put into the DAC category. There are no fee schedules for this that I can find. We are being charged a whopping 3.963 per kWh and a cargo Fijo of 196 pesos now. The exceed the rate is 2.80.
    We find it not surprising that cfe raised the rate just when the court case is being heard and not on the six month review. We have been paying on normal residential rate with subsidy for almost a year now. We are told that the review month is May. This is October.
    Our bills were around 5000 a month and now doubled. We feel targeted certainly.
    I would like all expat’s to be aware. I feel that the contract should be available to all. While it is the consumers responsibility to pay for services, it is the service delivery company’s responsibility to define and take accountability for service delivery. I am not sure about cfe’s power to accuse and convict and punish on a criminal accusation of stealing.
    We feel we are not accountable for their equipment, faulty or not. We know we did not touch their meter and would not know how to.
    One more thing, cfe would not take credit cards for payment at their office. They almost did not want to accept a bank draft. They wanted cash.
    We went from 1c to DAC both domesilio.

    Can you investigate contractual obligations to customers ? Our name is ” mud” here concerning cfe, naturally.

    • Thank you for your experience with CFE. There have been several high level cases and demands lately brought by people against the company. The best thing to do is stay in top of it and work with a lawyer that knows how CFE works and how to get results. The good thing is that many parts of Mexico are good for solar and people have the ability to switch over completely and be off the grid.

  30. Diane Dennis // November 5, 2017 at 3:39 PM // Reply

    Hi! Thank you so much for this information! I can’t find an answer to a question, unless it’s in this article and I’m not understanding it… I’m in an area that’s allowed 800 kwh bi-monthly. If I use 900 kwh do I pay whatever the 800 kwh would normally be (I realize it’s a tier structure) and then the super high rate only on the extra 100 kwh or would I at that point be paying the crazy high amount on all 900 kwh? Again thank you so much!!

  31. Hola! So I just received my first CFE monthly bill via the electronic card and it was 697 kwh, which is way too much for just myself. I’m convinced my water heater covers the top 2 floors because I know there isn’t one next door or below, since I stayed in both units before settling on the 3BR for when I have guests. I rarely ever use the AC and I’m at the coworking space on most days. My next door neighbors are 3 women living in a 2BR and theirs was only 321kwh, and they paid about 700 pesos for their bill. When I went to the electronic machine it said 3,451 PESOS! That seems to be WAY more than the highest rate. Because it’s an e-card, I didn’t receive a bill. Is this normal? If I go into CFE will they correct it?

    • Hello Don
      That does seem to be too much. Do you have gas hot water or electric? One thing you can do is turn everything off and see if your meter is running. The electronic meters have had issues and you may need to go to CFE and sort it out.

  32. Diane Boutin // November 17, 2017 at 7:12 AM // Reply

    Hi Mr. Yucatan,
    Thank you for all the interesting info, i just want to validate one point for my understanding, if I exceed over a two month billing my 800kwh ( 1B) I assume they won’t put me in DAC right away ? Would they look once a year my consummation and do an average? Exemple if I used less than 4,800kwh =800kwh x 6 bills I will be able to keep the USO ? Thank you very much

    • Hello Diane

      Perhaps no one knows exactly how CFE works but it would be the assumption that the billing is based on a rolling average. This means they do not look at your account once a year. If your average goes above you will be moved up to the higher rate.

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