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How much does a breath cost?

Norwegian prices are difficult to get used to. I was aware that beer would be £12 a pint but when the local dive shop charged me €8 for a 12L air fill I was flabbergasted! I was used to filling free of charge at my dive club in London and at dive sites it was around €3.90 and the occasional shops that charged a fiver seemed extortionate.

This soon led to the question: are airfills in Norway really expensive or are fills in UK cheap? I asked the ‘Girls that Scuba’ facebook community how much their local dive shop charges for a 12L 232bar air fill. I got 32 replies from 13 different countries. Not surprisingly the cheapest country to fill is Indonesia (€2.98) but what I didn’t expect is that air is even more expensive in Ireland than in Norway, €10 and €8.01, respectively. UK is the second cheapest, so I guess I was a bit spoiled there.

It is quite remarkable the difference in how much 1 breath can cost you (blue bar in the graph below): a bit more than a quarter of a euro cent in Indonesia versus almost a cent in Ireland! That would make a lot of sense, as obviously life in Ireland is more expensive than in Indonesia. Although you would expect an air fill to be more expensive in Norway than in most other places as a euro here doesn’t get you very far at all. I therefore adjusted the prices to the purchasing power in each country using the Big Mac Index (red bars in the graph below). This completely changed the rankings, the cheapest breath is the French one (0.45 cent) and the Saudi Arabian one is the most expensive (1.20 cents).

The sample size is too small to draw any significant conclusions but from the data available, the adjusted average price of a breath of all the countries is 0.67 cents and Norway is actually slightly lower at 0.57 cents per inhalation. Regardless, a cent every two breaths still seemed a lot so we ended up investing in Rudolph the red compressor.


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