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How does the electricity generally work?

 

Most electricity in Tianjin is purchased in advance by the unit, to be consumed only after purchase. However, some people must pay a bill collector who personally comes to their door every month to collect. When you first move into your apartment, your landlord should give you a cardboard card with the apartment’s electricity purchase record and a two-inch long plastic charger piece or the electric purchasing card. After removing the plastic cover, the head of this charger piece should fit into a slot on the electricity box found just outside your door. If you stick the charger piece into the slot on the box, the digital display will show you how many units are remaining. You need to purchase more electricity before you run out. The display will very slowly flash a red light when you get below ten units, which unfortunately doesn’t give you that much time. Same goes with the card.

 

Like everything else, most utilities come with pre-paid basis unlike in other countries, you must pay first and then use. No electric bills here.

 

Cards can be recharged at the utilities company, some banks, or other locations like JinGong supermarkets. At the banks, you can simply pay at the electric specific ATM machines or over the counter. I usually re-charge my card at the JinGong supermarkets though where you can also buy train tickets etc. Simple and fast. Don’t ever lose your cards or it can be a mafan/hassle to renew it as it requires your landlord going to the main branch of the State-Grid. Under normal circumstances you should use less than 500 units a month.

 

 

 

 

What do I do when my electricity goes out?

You need to find out why you have no electricity. There are three likely explanations. The most likely is that you ran out of electricity. In this event, you must simply purchase more (see below). If this is the case, the display on the electrical box will read some very small number. It is also possible that you blew a fuse. This is especially likely if you operating more than one heavy electricity consumer simultaneously (i.e. you have the hot water heater and the toaster oven on at the same time). In this case, unplug one of the violating appliances, and flip the switch on the electricity box. If it is a matter more complicated than flipping that switch, I can’t help you. Enlist a neighbor’s help. The third possible reason is that the electricity is out for your housing unit (check with your neighbors to see if this is the case). If this is the case, unless you are a professional electrician, there is nothing to do but wait or call Wuye/Management.

 

How do I purchase new electricity?

Electricity is 0.41 RMB/unit. 500 units = 205 RMB, 1000 units = 410 RMB. If your electricity operates by the plastic charger-card system, electricity is sold only at specific and obscure locations. I only know where this is for my area (a specific Agricultural Bank on a street ten minutes from my house). If your landlord expects you to handle purchase of the electricity, they should tell you or show you where it is. If they forget to do this when you move in, grab a Chinese friend to call your landlord to find out for you where to pay, or you could ask your friendly neighbors. You can recharge your electric card almost at every JinGong Supermarkets津工超市and ICBC banks anywhere near you. They are usually pretty much anywhere. Bring the payment record card, the charger piece, and the cash with you to purchase electricity. Give the teller these three things and he/she should know what to do. Just in case, you can print out this card and show it to the teller to more clearly communicate your desires:

 

The teller will return the charger piece and the card to you. When you return home, insert this charger piece into the appropriate spot on the electricity box and your electricity should be revived. The box will also display the amount of electricity that you just purchased.

 


 

I would like to buy electricity. 我想买电。Wo3xiang3mai3dian4.

 

I would like to buy ____ units of electricity. Here is the money, is it right? 我想买___电量,钱给你,对吗? Wo3xiang3mai3___dian4liang4, qian2gei3ni2, dui2 ma0?

 

Thank you very much for your help! 感谢您的帮助! Gan3xie4nin2de0bang1zhu4!

 

The teller will return the charger piece and the card to you. When you return home, insert this charger piece into the appropriate spot on the electricity box and your electricity should be revived. The box will also display the amount of electricity that you just purchased.

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