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Advice needed: Electricity Consumption (kw) for a 92m2 household for 2

Hi,

I currently am visiting family in Ho Chi Minh City. I haven't lived in Vietnam for 17 years and there are many things I don't know yet (such as how people do business, how houses or apartment complex are built, etc.). I find myself in an interesting situation and need advice.

I would like to know:
- What is average household electricity consumption for a 92 m2 apartment for 2?
- What is the average electricity cost here in 2018?
- What is the commercial rate for Tan Phu area?
- How would you negotiate with an airbnb host in situation like what I find myself in (please see below)?

I rented a 2-bedroom, 2-bath service apartment in the Star Hill Classical complex in District 7 through airbnb for 48 days. When I moved out, I received a utility bill for $530 for 48 days for 3 people (2 of whom stayed there regularly and 1 was only visiting once and awhile). I almost fell over.

-The electricity rate quote was 0.6 USD/kw
- water was 0.3 USD/m3.
- Total electricity consumed was 874 kw in 48 days;
- Total water consumption was 20 m3 in 48 days.

Before I booked the place,  the host and I agreed that we would pay per usage, meaning to pay by the amount of electricity and water we would use. When I made that arrangement, my assumption was that I knew that all of us in the household were environmentally conscious individuals. We could not understand why we consumed 3 times the amount of average energy consumption per household (according to my research).

The unit has 2 water heaters each in each bathroom, an electric stove, and 3 air conditioning units one in each bedroom and 1 in the living room, 1 washing machine, and 1 very small fridge.

During our stay, we believe we consumed water and energy mindfully and responsively.
- We minimized their cleaning and  sheet changing services provided to us;
- We did laundry only a few times during that 48 days and chose the lowest water setting when doing laundry;
- We cooked only a few times when we were there, mostly we used the stove to warm up food; there were weeks we only ate out.
- We did not run air conditioning all day and all night, only when needed. There were weeks we were not home during the day at all due to construction going on in an adjacent unit.
- We only used small floor lamps during night time and turned off all lights when not use  (the unit has natural lighting all day)

After much reflection, we thought of 2 factors that might have contributed to the skyrocketed amount of electricity.

- Factor # 1: (which we know for sure) the unit was not well-sealed or well-insulated, there were gaps between glass sliding doors and windows. We usually heard whooshing sounds of winds through those cracks all day and all night.
- Factor #2: those air conditioning units were not energy efficient ones.

Both of these factors were uncontrollable and unanticipated to us. I would have never known these when making the arrangement with the airbnb host. I do think we will be accountable for paying the utilities use during our stay. However, I do not think it is reasonable for us to pay the whole amount given the circumstances.

I would highly appreciate your advice in this case.


Warmly,

Lily

The owner of the apartment is trying to make a few extra bucks. You should always read the electricity and water meters when renting, take a pic of the readout. Contact AirBnB and see what they say. I would say your utilities should be around 80 usd.

Thank you so very much!

The guy has taken the term "creative accounting" to a new level hasn't he. I pulled last month electric and water bill and this is what we paid:

ELECTRICITY:                1,177KW                               VND 3.231.170
WATER:                                  64M                              VND    492.800

+    492,800.00
+  3,231,170.00
---------------
+  3,723,970.00  (this included the GTGT for both bills)

Our place is about 4300 M2, only my wife and I live here plus a full time maid. I'd have the guy show you the Metered bills from EVN and the water company before any money was exchanged. Why in the world did you negotiate the price in USD? That really is not a good way of doing business here.

Rick

The rate most, if not all, landlords charge tenants for electricity in Saigon is VND 3500 or $0.15/kw.  No sane person would agree to pay $0.60/kw.   Most commercial meter owners pay less than VND 3000/kw and charge you an extra VND 500 or 700 to include tax, which is an acceptable practice.

It's difficult to say how many kw should be the average consumption even with the explanation of your usage, but even with 874 kw, the cost should only be $130. 

FWIW, our place in Saigon was half of the size of your apartment and we used roughly 200 kw (around $30/m)  with A/C 3 hrs/day, floor fan 16 hrs/day, 2 - 3 loads of laundry/month, stove once a day, electric kettle a few times/day, hot water for shower was rarely turned on, and anytime we used it, we turned it off immediately afterwards. 

Our apartment here in Vung Tau is 95 m2 (2 bedrooms, 2 baths, sitting area, dining area, and a huge kitchen) and we use about the same amount of electricity (more cooking time but less AC and fan due to cooler daily temperature.)

No apartment has ever asked us to pay for water usage so I don't know the cost.

Was the electric meter read and recorded in front of you when you moved in and moved out?

Rick --  4300 m2?  That's more than 46,200 sf, more than an acre of land.  Are you sure?

Yep, 4 story villa, about 1110m2 per floor. All paid for and with the pink book. Came a long way in life since Pleiku 1969.
Rick

Four story villa.  No wonder you use 1177 kw/m. 

BTW, I was a teacher in Pleiku in 1971; it's my first year teaching and I was the youngest high school teacher in history.

Thank you so much, @Ciambella! The electricity cost you listed was helpful to me!

I did take photo of the electric meter and the water meter when I loved in but when I moved out, the assistant of the landlord took them and sent them to me.

When we negotiated, the landlord listed the utility price in USD. I have no idea how high that was. I will definitely ask for copy of the bills and possibly pay directly to the utility company.


Warmly,

Lily

Make sure you post a comment on their profile warning others of their scam.

Ditto what Colin said.

If you made payment through airbnb platform then you are under no obligation to make any additional payment. Everything should be inclusive per Airbnb's policy.

Thank you so very much, QuidProQuo!!!!

I am so grateful for all of your advices! This has been very helpful for me. Now that I have a basis for my argument, I just sent the host a message to give the host 2 options:

--option 1: the host will provide me the bills and I will personally pay those bills at electric company and water company.

--option 2: I will pay the electricity at the standard practice rate per @Ciambella's suggestion (which is $130 for 184 kw).

I will keep you posted once I heard from the host and once I have this resolved!


Hugs,

Lily

lily.truong.jfku :

I am so grateful for all of your advices! This has been very helpful for me. Now that I have a basis for my argument, I just sent the host a message to give the host 2 options:

--option 1: the host will provide me the bills and I will personally pay those bills at electric company and water company.

--option 2: I will pay the electricity at the standard practice rate per @Ciambella's suggestion (which is $130 for 184 kw).

I will keep you posted once I heard from the host and once I have this resolved!


Hugs,

Lily

I think you're making things more complicated that they should be. Option 1, there is no way this crooked landlord will allow you to do this simply because there is a chance you might disappear with the bill not pay for it altogether not to mention you might see the real rate and that could expose their shadiness. Even if you're doing this in good faith, the utility company will not allow you to do so as tenant and you're not a registered owner to the meter(s). Option 2, since the landlord is shady there's no reason why they would want to settle with your proposed rate. Bottom line, if you are no longer living in Vietnam or in the same zip code just ignore their bill. It's not like they can send a debt collector after you.

If you get a negative response back from the guy ask him if he has a contract with EVN to sell electricity. IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANYONE TO RESELL electricity in VietNam UNLESS they have a contract with EVN. That's why their called a monopoly. In addition EVN would be interested in the fact that he's quoting the prices in USD which is also illegal in Vietnam.

Rick

Thanks, QuidProQuo! I am still in Ho Chi Minh City and I honestly will pay the bill either to the electric company or to her if I see the actual bill.  However, the owner wrote back to me and did not agree to the option 1 nor option 2 =).

Thanks, Budman1. All of these are new to me! I did not know any of these before. It was a good learning experience!

Update: all is good so far.  I contacted Airbnb customer service to ask for help, also to check if I was obligated to pay the utility. The customer service representative, after checking the content of the listing in which the host did not mention anything about guest paying utility bills, told me that I was not obligated to pay any additional charges! Let have my fingers crossed.

Cool beans.  Hope the final result will be in your favour, Lily.

Thanks, Ciambella!

lily.truong.jfku :

Thanks, QuidProQuo! I am still in Ho Chi Minh City and I honestly will pay the bill either to the electric company or to her if I see the actual bill.  However, the owner wrote back to me and did not agree to the option 1 nor option 2 =).

It's obvious the owner has something to hide.

I experienced unusually high electricity consumption too. Although I stayed alone and was overseas for up to 10 days a month, I still clocked over 250kW a month. I decided to turn off all mains except for the one connected to the fridge  when I discovered that the mains to my bathroom and water heater's power could not be shut off. suspicion - I may have been paying for someone else's electricity...

but my local friends told me to change the meter and ensure that the replacement was certified by a local authority. I moved out anyway....

You're definitely being scammed, so yes, complain to airbnb. I live in D7 in a house with four floors, five bedrooms (plus another two on the top floor we don't use), and eight aircons. Aircons are the killers -- radiant heaters in reverse. The water heaters really don't add up to anything because they only work when you're having a shower, and are actually a very good idea. I keep telling my wife and daughter to keep the aircons at 27 degrees and turn them off when they leave the room, which they sometimes do but often forget. Our monthly electricity bill is about $250, which I am embarrassed about.
Rob

Your landlord has to be doing something shonky.
Demanding payment in USD is a serious offence to start with.
I live in a two storey house and I leave my aircon on 24/7 set at 26 degrees.
My power bill only every got as high as 1.9 million vnd but usually less.
Water is around 25,000 vnd per month. Rubbish collection is 30,000 vnd per mth.

$250 per month is still a lot. Should check on the meter.

DirtyPierre :

Your landlord has to be doing something shonky.
Demanding payment in USD is a serious offence to start with.
I live in a two storey house and I leave my aircon on 24/7 set at 26 degrees.
My power bill only every got as high as 1.9 million vnd but usually less.
Water is around 25,000 vnd per month. Rubbish collection is 30,000 vnd per mth.

Its not illegal to collect payment in usd in a private transaction. It is illegal to advertise in usd, but that law is broken daily, even by government owned companies.

colinoscapee :
DirtyPierre :

Your landlord has to be doing something shonky.
Demanding payment in USD is a serious offence to start with.
I live in a two storey house and I leave my aircon on 24/7 set at 26 degrees.
My power bill only every got as high as 1.9 million vnd but usually less.
Water is around 25,000 vnd per month. Rubbish collection is 30,000 vnd per mth.

Its not illegal to collect payment in usd in a private transaction. It is illegal to advertise in usd, but that law is broken daily, even by government owned companies.

http://vietnamnews.vn/economy/249711/re … 84ucuRx.97

Budman1 :
colinoscapee :
DirtyPierre :

Your landlord has to be doing something shonky.
Demanding payment in USD is a serious offence to start with.
I live in a two storey house and I leave my aircon on 24/7 set at 26 degrees.
My power bill only every got as high as 1.9 million vnd but usually less.
Water is around 25,000 vnd per month. Rubbish collection is 30,000 vnd per mth.

Its not illegal to collect payment in usd in a private transaction. It is illegal to advertise in usd, but that law is broken daily, even by government owned companies.

http://vietnamnews.vn/economy/249711/re … 84ucuRx.97

True, but was it ever implemented for day to day transactions between citizens. For business yes. Banks still advertise USD account interest rates, therefore they are all in breach of the law. Its not as seriius as Pierre made out. Government hotels still advertise in USD and do transactions in usd.

Just reread the article and the bit about the banks is interesting. They say the banks are basically exempt in many ways. But having a term deposit in USD seems to contradict the restrictions. Mind you, its 4 years since that article was written and usd accounts now earn no interest if I remember correctly.

This thread is so informative. Thank you all for your advice. I contacted Airbnb customer support and was backed by Aribnb. I am told I don't owe the host any additional amount since:

1). there was no mention of guest paying utillities in the listing,

2). the host could have had many chances to add the utility costs to the list of itemized charges when setting the listing on Airbnb in order to collect the money up front, not asking for cash payment outside of Airbnb system.

The host was not happy about it. I offered to pay the costs on the actual bills but but the host still did not provide the actual bills for me to pay!

Just to share info with you, I have no ill-intention and mean to do the host no harm. But in case you will be looking for serviced apartment, please watch out for listings from ANNETA (http://annetavietnam.com/)

Here are some listings on Airbnb:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20019618?l … s=Y8KNzpdM

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/22675804?l … s=Y8KNzpdM

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20017634?l … s=Y8KNzpdM

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/21329543?l … s=Y8KNzpdM

lily.truong.jfku :

This thread is so informative. Thank you all for your advice. I contacted Airbnb customer support and was backed by Aribnb. I am told I don't owe the host any additional amount since:

1). there was no mention of guest paying utillities in the listing,

2). the host could have had many chances to add the utility costs to the list of itemized charges when setting the listing on Airbnb in order to collect the money up front, not asking for cash payment outside of Airbnb system.

The host was not happy about it. I offered to pay the costs on the actual bills but but the host still did not provide the actual bills for me to pay!

Good to hear it all worked out for you.

The listings are way over-priced. Should always look for a superhost if you ever do business through Airbnb.

Hi QuidProQuo,

I din't live in HCM City for 18 years and did not know current housing here. I myself was surprised to see the price. But when I searched around (that was the end of 2017), prices in Masteri Thao Dien, District 4, and a few other places in District 4 were even more outrageous. I couldn't wrap my head around it. How can locals afford to live here?

lily.truong.jfku :

...when I searched around (that was the end of 2017), prices in Masteri Thao Dien, District 4, and a few other places in District 4 were even more outrageous. I couldn't wrap my head around it. How can locals afford to live here?

Those prices are aimed at tourists.  In Oct 2017, I had a wild hair to move to Phu My Hung and found a good number of one or two bedroom units for around 15M/month.  Relatives staged a protest and killed my idea before I had a chance to try it out.

That was so funny! You were saved!

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