Many foreigners come to Costa Rica with the dream of building their own house, and Jonathan Evans from the U.K. is one of them. He and his wife Carolina moved to Costa Rica at the end of 2010 and began construction at the beginning of 2011. With a small budget, a lot of enthusiasm and a constructor willing and able to execute their project, they succeeded in finishing their new home in a few short months. As he wanted to record the whole process, he created a blog including practical tips and even a construction related glossary.
Investing in solar energy equipment
When we asked Jon why he decided to install a solar water heater shortly after they moved into the new house, he was very clear: “My wife likes having long hot showers and washing dishes with warm water. Well OK, I do too! But the ICE bill quickly showed that this was an expensive ‘luxury’, so that’s why we decided to invest in a solar water heater to reduce our ICE bill.”
But the solar water heater was only the start of implementing solar energy into their house. After hearing from Purasol about the interesting offer they were launching last May and ICE’s Plan Piloto, they decided to have a grid connected photovoltaic solar system installed as well.
Now they have a roof-mounted system of 8 panels of 200W each, good for 1,600 W electricity production. “This configuration seemed to best match our probable consumption without going over too much,” he explains. “ICE doesn’t pay for the electricity production that exceeds the amount you consume; however, in case you need more electricity than you produce you get it from the grid without being charged.”
After connection to the grid their ICE bill dropped to 11,000 colones, but he hopes to get it to the minimum as soon summer is there. ”There’s a bit of an issue with the rainy season in this area”, he confesses, “it really is cloudy here and we hardly get 3 or 4 hours of full sun a day between September and November. Anyhow our average monthly consumption used to be 25,000 colones so I’m already saving 14.000 a month. I hope to break even on the $4,000 investment in 10 years. Although it’s probably going to be before as the cost of ICE electricity is constantly rising and the panels haven’t yet had the opportunity to function under optimal conditions.”