The Cost of Comfort

One of our goals with living the full-time RV life is to get closer to nature. That thought includes images of clear mountain streams tumbling over boulders, strolling through meadows of wildflowers while elk graze in the distance, and lying on a blanket on a desert evening, far from the light pollution of the city, watching a meteor shower or the passage of the Milky Way.

But getting closer to nature also includes dealing with the temperatures and humidities from which our sticks-and-bricks homes have shielded us with their climate-control systems and blown-in foam insulation. Living in an RV, especially one like ours that is not rated for four seasons, quickly reminds us what it must have been like for our ancestors who settled and lived in this part of the country.

Right now we are parked in Livingston, Texas which is about 100 miles from the coast. Since we arrived on Saturday evening, we’ve had lots of rain, temperatures in the high 80’s, and the usual Southern summertime humidity levels up to 99%.

Our solution was to keep the RV closed up tight, run the air conditioner along with our dehumidifier, and avoid going outside unless it was necessary.

And that solution worked as far as keeping us comfortable. But there was a problem.

When we booked this site, we opted for the monthly rate since we planned to be here for several weeks getting our domicile established and catching up with friends in the Houston area. The monthly rate for this site is $340, or about $11/night, which is a bargain for a full hookup site. The kicker is, you have to pay extra for your electricity usage which is metered at the site. When we checked in on Saturday, they gave us a slip of paper that showed the starting meter reading, and when we check out, we will read the meter, fill in the form and turn it in to the office so we can pay for our usage.

Electric meter on our site

The rate for the electricity usage is 12.38 cents per kWh. Now, if you are like me, you have never really paid that much attention to what your electrical rates are at home–you just know about how much your total monthly bill should be. So we didn’t really think too much about how much electricity we were using to power our air conditioner in our RV after we parked here on Saturday.

Yesterday after lunch, I got curious about it, so I created a little spreadsheet (of course I did, that’s what I do), and then I went out and checked the meter.

Opening meter reading: 7693
Current meter reading: 8040
kWh used: 347
Charge per kWh: $.1238
Accrued charge to date: $42.96

Yep, you read that right. In three days we had run up an electric bill of almost $43. Obviously, we needed a new plan.

We immediately turned off the air conditioner even though it was the middle of the day. We opened all the windows and the door (they are all screened to keep out the bugs), and turned on the overhead fans. I even went to Walmart and bought a small Honeywell room fan, since someone who shall remain nameless talked me out of bringing one of our three fans that we had at home.

We agreed to still run the air conditioner at night, primarily because of the super-high humidity that the fans suck into the RV, but we’ll keep it set to about 74° instead of the 69° setting we were using before.

All of this is part of the learning curve. This is the first time we’ve camped anywhere that had a separate metered electricity charge. We normally did our summer camping in state parks where we paid $16 a night (senior discount) which included the electricity. But I’ve found that when you get the highly discounted monthy rate at just about any park, you will have to pay for your electricity separately, and I guess that’s understandable.

By the way, I went back and checked to see what our electricity rates were with Tupelo Water and Light at our house:
Energy Charge – per kWh $0.06930
FCA Charge – per kWh $0.01947
Total – per kWh $.08877

Our plan for this adventure is to follow the weather, and if it were not for the pesky issue of having to get our Texas domicile established, we certainly would not be camped here in East Texas in the summertime. We’ll see how it goes, but there’s always the possibility that we will speed up the process and pull out of here early if we start getting too cranky. Of course we also want to keep the kitties comfortable.

But I will say this–my hair has more body now than I’ve ever seen it have before! 😂

We’ll keep you posted!

5 thoughts on “The Cost of Comfort

  1. How long must you be there to establish domicile? Or are there other standards besides length of time? —- At least it looks like you won’t have to contend much with Gordon

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    • Legally we can establish domicile in just a few days—get the vehicles inspected and registered, get our drivers licenses, register to vote, get our vehicle insurance moved. We already have our address. We’ll do another couple of things like setting up a new bank account with a Texas bank. There’s no time limit involved, just a matter of completing the steps.

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  2. Looks like the paying separately for electric can easily eat up any savings you might get from renting long term in extreme temps the discount could end up actually costing more than the daily with electric included rate. Thanks for the heads up on that.

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  3. Pingback: A Good Kind of Mistake | Just Call Us Nomads

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