So remember how utility bills in the capital and the surrounding suburbs were set to go through the roof, and how we were all told to watch our energy consumption because we’d probably end up paying around 600 percent more than usual? Well it looks like those warnings fell on deaf ears because according to official figures, energy demands in Buenos Aires — and the whole country — actually increased during the first week of February, La Nación reported today.

Demand across the whole country increased from 19,000 MW to 21,000 MW, a difference equivalent to almost 18 percent. (For the uninitiated: MW (Megawatt) measures the amount of electricity required by a whole city, or in this case, country).

So, despite the threat of higher bills, it looks like everyone is preferring to blast their air conditioning during the summer months. What can we say: old habits die hard and it was a hellah hot weekend.

Increases in electricity consumption in the first week of February. Table via La Nación.
Increases in electricity consumption in the first week of February. Table via La Nación.

According to energy experts, apparently we all prefer to stay cool before we think about the damage this will do to our pockets. And although the difference between setting the air conditioning at 24 and 23 degrees Celsius might appear to have minimal effect on your body temperature, it makes a big difference in terms of energy consumption. In fact, for every degree celsius that the air conditioning is lowered to, the amount of electricity that is used increases by 8 percent.

And while this sort of consumption doesn’t only make a bigger hole in your pocket, it also has an effect on Argentina’s national grid, which can’t cope with growing demand. If you’ve been in a bar recently and witnessed all the lights suddenly cut out, this is why.

Nelly Furtado - Turn Off The Light

Big electricity companies like Edenor and Edesur have pledged to improve electricity supplies by December 2017, when the so-called “electrical emergency” period announced by the government at the end of last year will have supposedly finished. The  emergency was put in place after Argentina’s national grid was described as being on the “brink of collapse” by Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren. 

The new system replaces 12 years of price freezing on electricity, completely reorganizing the system of subsidies and allowing customers to pay their bills every month instead of every two. Customers who receive subsidies and consume 182 kWh of electricity will be set to pay $150 pesos this month, which represents a 500 percent increase in their bill (or the equivalent of an additional pizza, as Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay is known (and damned) for saying.

But until the state of the grid improves, electricity companies are urging everyone to minimize their consumption by turning off lights and setting air conditioning a degree or two higher.