The power goes out here A LOT. At least a few times per week. We’ve gotten used to having at least our phones, and often our computers, charged fully at all times, because you never know when the lights will go off. There have been times where it was off for most of the day, and we’ve been told that in the past it has been off for multiple days. Just a few days ago the power was off and on all day – coming on for 30 seconds at a time, teasing us. We’ve always got a good supply of candles around the house for these situations. Our stove is gas, so we can cook even when the power is out. Also, we can still have water when the power is out, while some other houses do not.
Our power is supplied by PNG Power. The method of paying for power is unlike anything we’ve ever done before. There is no monthly bill, it is all pay-to-use based. There are a few ways you can top-up your power. Vouchers can be purchased directly from PNG Power, but they are inconveniently closed during lunch and by 4 pm. You can also buy vouchers from a machine at the small Papindo (supermarket), but it is frequently down. The easiest method, for me, is to top up using cell phone credit. All we need to do is dial *775*Meter number*amount in Kina# (K50 max) using our mobile phone, and a confirmation screen pops up. After confirmation, a text message arrives with a voucher number, which you then punch into the meter (inconveniently located underneath our house). And, voila, you’ve got power.
When we first got here we didn’t know when it would run out, so we ran out a few times without our knowing. We’d light the candles, and then we’d notice the people down the road had power. So we’d have to climb under the house and check the meter. Now, we’ve got a pretty good feel on our power use, we end up topping up about once a week. Cost has been about K30 per week (~ $44 CAD per month) – not bad at all!
We have 2 sources of water to our house. The first source is town water, is really high pressure, and the pipe runs under our bedroom. This is very inconvenient, as it likes to bang at all hours. It bangs so loudly that it can shake the house, and is impossible to sleep through. Recently, they changed our pipes around so now it doesn’t bang unless the power goes out, so that is a HUGE relief, as we were just turning the water off unless we needed it. The second source is rain water collected in a large cistern behind our house. This water is very low pressure, so they’ve installed a water pump. The water-pump is in a cage as apparently it’s been stolen twice before, previous to our arrival.
It’s essential to have both sources on as if we leave the town water off, we will deplete the rain water cistern too quickly. But, if we leave the cistern off, we won’t have water if there is a problem with the town water – and the town water is turned off every night. Also, the town water is treated, while the cistern water is not. The water in the cistern runs off our roof and into the eaves – along with dirt and whatever the rats leave on our roof. So, we’d prefer to have it mixing with the treated town water. In any case, to be safe, we only consume boiled or filtered water. The filter we have isn’t your run-of-the-mill Brita. It starts off with a ceramic filter, and then has a series of different rocks and loams that the water goes through. We shouldn’t ever need to replace the filter system or replace anything.
A solar power panel on our roof heats our water. Most of the time, it keeps enough water heated for us to shower, wash dishes, etc. But if it’s been a cloudy day, or we both want to shower in quick succession, there wouldn’t be enough. To that purpose, there is a boost button in our kitchen, which uses our electricity to heat the water – takes about ½ hour.
I hope you are enjoying our posts about our life in PNG. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to know about, send me a message or comment and I’ll work on a post 🙂