Below you'll find an outline of Beijing utilities and how much they cost. Of course, the actual bill will vary depending on your consumption. Recent high-end construction includes energy saving technologies, but most properties lag behind northern European standards.
This is the major utility expense in Beijing. Highest in the hot summer months due to air-conditioning use. Average cost is about RMB500/month for a 2 bedroom apartment and about RMB3,800/month for a house.
Cost: RMB0.50 per kWh
A minor expense of about RMB70/month in apartments and many houses where your gas stove is the only gas consumer. Many houses user gas heaters for heating and hot-water. At these properties, average costs rise to about RMB800/month.
Public central heating
Public central heating is measured on a per square meter (of the property) basis for the year, irrespective of energy consumption. For some older properties, the only thermostat is an open window. There is a concerted effort to improve this wasteful shortcoming, but infrastructure improvements will take time. Public central heating is turned on each year from the 15th of November to the 15th of March. If the weather is exceptionally cold, the authorities may turn it on a few days early. Immediately prior to and after this period, many residents rely on electric heating to get them through the chilly evenings and mornings. Most suburban houses have gas heaters where heating is available at all times (see above). As a rule, the fixed public central heating fee is included in the rent.
Given its scarcity, water is a relatively low-cost utility in Beijing. Tenants at apartments might spend RMB80 a month while families at villas might spend RMB350 a month.
Cost: RMB3.70/m3 (cold water) and RMB13.00/m3 (hot water)
Electricity is pre-paid at most apartments and some housing communities. Gas and water may be pre-paid. If not pre-paid, the resident is billed monthly. This can cause confusion for new residents. You (or your Ayi) should check the meter weekly and always ensure that you have a loaded pre-paid card in your home. Keep it in a safe place as it is difficult to replace. Cards are refilled at the management office or bank (we'll show you how). At some properties, there are (sometimes) quick-fix solutions if your your air-conditioner stops in the middle of a baking Beijing night. But, it's an experience best avoided by taking the aforementioned precautions.
Note that the above quoted rates are average rates at time of writing.
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