Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Painful lessons

We have indeed lived in places where summer means 90 - 100F temperatures with 95% humidity (Tokyo, Hong Kong), but the place we consider home, perpetually sunny and warm Southern California, is dry as the desert. Sure, living in So Cal a mile from the Pacific Ocean meant we had days that you could call hot, but the ocean breeze was a smooth balm, making that heat bearable. We have never, as residents of So Cal, had air conditioning. There are always about three to five days in any given year that have made me long for a box dispensing icy air to sit in front of, but those days pass. We generally get through them by splashing in the ocean or seeking the darkness of a movie theater with an extra large beverage to help us cope.

I've forgotten how oppressive the heat can be when you add in such high humidity. Even in a shady, breezy spot, you're still breathing thick, wet air. There's no escape. All physical activity becomes more difficult and uncomfortable. Our first couple of weeks here were nearly unbearable to us Californians. We were still adjusting to the humidity while Macau was in the midst of high heat warnings. We managed to make it through by staying hydrated and balancing our time outdoors with plenty of time indoors with the air conditioner running full blast, with lots of hours in the pool.

Now that we've been here awhile, our bodies have adjusted a bit to the heat, and we aren't leaking rivulets of sweat from every pore the moment we open the lobby door. Plus, the temperature has gone down some, the highs are between 85 and 89F and the humidity has gone down to 70 - 85%. Still high for a girl from a beach community in Los Angeles, but certainly more tolerable than it was a month ago.

When we lived in Tokyo and Hong Kong, we never saw any bills. The company that sent us to those places picked up the tab as part of our relocation settlement. So we turned on the air con when we were hot, and turned it off when we got cold. Here the situation is different. We get a monthly stipend toward living expenses as part of the relocation package, but we are ultimately responsible to pay the rent and all the utilities. The question of how the constant use of the A/C might affect our electricity bill has been in the back of my head, but certainly not something I've been obsessing about. Which, perhaps, was a mistake.

Because today I got the bill.

3,660.00 MOP, which is roughly $460 US Dollars.

For comparison, my electricity bill in my non-air conditioned home in California was about $40 US Dollars in the months leading up to this relocation.

Those ridiculously high numbers spurred me to action. I immediately went from room to room, turning off all the A/C units, save one in the main sitting area of the house where we tend to congregate. I've heard that electricity is "more expensive here" and perhaps there is a little truth to that. But the bigger truth is we cannot sustain a monthly electric bill that is close to what we used to pay for a whole year! So we'll now be vigilant and obsessive about turning off the A/C when we don't need it, the same way we learned to be vigilant and obsessive about flipping off light switches when we leave a room.

You live. You learn. Painfully.

I hope wherever you are it's nice and cool tonight, without the use of air conditioning!


  1. hi heather. i posted yesterday about the heat and humidity in arkansas... hot! compared to california... fortunately for my husband, as part of his monthly bill, his rent payment, air conditioning is all-inclusive... here in CA we practically never use the AC.. in arkansas, it was a must....
    i feel your pain, or rather discomfort..
    i hope using just the one unit keeps you comfortable...

  2. Heather - I sure enjoy reading your posts and I'm hoping our Father will provide you the funds for the essential air conditioning you need. That's about what I paid here in Clovis for last month's electricity bill. I think the Lord when I pay the bill knowing He has provided every good thing for us.

    Blessings to you and your family.


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