When we first heard that it would cost us ï¿½8,500 for electricity to be brought from the village above us we were shocked that something taken for granted in most areas of the UK should cost so much here. The first thing we did was to consider installing solar electricity. The second thing we did was to reject it because we would have to import everything form the UK or pay someone else to do the same. Some companies were experimenting with solar electricity but none appeared to be successful when we investigated further.
Solar heating comes standard and before we had time to even think about it had been installed and hot water began flowing. We were told that from about June to October we would never need to turn the immersion heater on. In November we should turn it on for an hour in the morning, December for two hours, January and February will usually need three hours and then the time needed for electrical heating would slowly reduce as the months grew warmer. Lagging is not a technology the Cypriots are familiar with.
Electricity costs work out at about 5.5p per Kilowatt-hour, with the majority of the power in our case being needed for the pool and air conditioning. In the winter electricity consumption drops because we use calor gas heaters and a wood fire to keep us warm. We spend about ï¿½30 per month, on average, for our power costs which include electricity, gas and wood.
The only problem with mains electricity is when it goes off, which is fairly frequently. Iï¿½m sitting here at the moment using a portable computer with 30 minutes of power left. The electricity went off at 5 am in the morning and at 5pm we still do not have power. The last time we had power cut as extensive as this was three weeks ago, but in between there have been two smaller cuts of a few hours. Usually this is not too difficult to sit out in the summer, with longer days but in the winter this becomes tiresome.
Cookers here have a mixture of gas and electricity. Ours has one electric plate and three gas ones, and an electric grill and oven, we also have a gas BarBQ. We have about 100 candles stored in our utility room to get through the dark hours. We have a slight problem that our water pump relies on electricity so we have a slight problem with water when the electricity goes out. Itï¿½s at times like these that we wish that we had spent ï¿½20,000 on a 4kw solar electricity system. But, there is a solution. Most far-thinking people on the island buy a petrol generator. This was not such a good idea a few years ago because they were so expensive but now a 4 Kw generator costs around ï¿½550. But all solutions bring problems; noise and the need to store petrol.
Our next door neighbours have no electricity at all and therefore are using a petrol generator. Even though we are 50 meters away from their generator the noise is mind numbing. They have a meter box so hopefully they will soon have electricity connected but not until the electrics in the house have been passed.
We were pleasantly surprised when in April 2004 we arrived to find that we had electricity connected. A little box had been installed in the road outside our villa and the meter told us that the builder had already use 8 units of it. A short time after a bill appeared in our electricity box and off we went into the big city, Girne, to try to pay it. This was more difficult than expected. Apparently there is no one called Malcolm Channing but there is a Malcolm John. That took an hour to discover. We handed over our money only to discover that because we were late paying our ï¿½2, monthly bill, we were fined; a princely sum of 12p! Because we were not on the island for very long at that time and had more than a month between visits, we credited money so that our bills were paid automatically. Some people try to set up Direct Debits, Iï¿½ve seen them crying in the streets, there accounts temporarily emptied paying Direct Debits to the Turkish Book Of the Month Club.
The swimming pool pump uses a great deal of electricity each day, 7.5 units in the peak of summer reducing to 6 units in September and so on as the hot days reduce and the need to oxygenate the pool reduces. Our total use of electricity up to September 20th was 1440 units, at a cost of around ï¿½80, not bad for 8 weeks of occupancy with fans and air con blasting during August.