En­ergy boost

Re­search­ing en­ergy deals and mak­ing small ad­just­ments will en­sure your util­i­ties bills in France are as low as pos­si­ble, sav­ing money bet­ter spent on the finer things in life, as Dan Moore finds out

French Property News - - Contents -

Get more for your money with our guide to util­ity providers and ef­fi­ciency tips

Util­ity bills tend to be lower in France than in the UK, but any­one who buys a prop­erty will agree they could do with shav­ing a lit­tle more off their en­ergy bills. Af­ter all who wants to pay more than they need? Here’s the low­down on en­ergy costs in France, and how to cut them.

Let’s take on elec­tric­ity first, as the chances are you’ll buy some­thing with a mul­ti­tude of sock­ets. Elec­tric­ity is around 10% cheaper on av­er­age in France than it is in the UK. This is the good news com­pared to gas, which is only marginally less costly, on av­er­age.

As for water, well, that de­pends on your sup­plier. In most towns and vil­lages the mairie over­sees the com­mune’s water sup­ply and you can’t choose your provider, but the good news is it’s re­ally easy to switch elec­tric­ity and gas providers in France.

Though es­ti­ma­tions de­pend on many dif­fer­ent fac­tors, here is an over­view of what you could be ex­pected to pay.

Ac­cord­ing to French en­ergy com­par­i­son web­site Selec­tra ( en.selec­tra.info), the an­nual elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion for a 100m2 house with two adults us­ing elec­tric­ity for heat­ing, water and cook­ing is about 15,000kwh. The bill for that would be be­tween €2,200 and €2,800. A prop­erty with a 150m2 foot­print and a fam­ily of four liv­ing in it would pay be­tween €3,200 and €4,200 a year for elec­tric­ity with those same providers.

If you use gas to heat your home, water and cook­ing ap­pli­ances, the an­nual bill for the two sce­nar­ios above would be around €700 or €1,000 re­spec­tively.

The av­er­age house­hold water and sew­er­age bill in Eng­land and Wales for 2016-17 is es­ti­mated to be £389. Water costs less in France, with the an­nual water bill com­ing in at be­tween €200 and €400 a year.

To put this in per­spec­tive, you can ex­pect to pay around €300 a year based on a two-bed­room home in Paris.

Small things add up

Even if your pad isn’t within the sight of Notre Dame, there is a lot to be said for mak­ing mi­nor ad­just­ments to water-re­lated habits.

Turn­ing the tap off when brush­ing your teeth may seem per­nick­ety, but if you leave it run­ning for four min­utes a day, that’s the equiv­a­lent of pour­ing water down the drain non-stop for 24 hours each year. Given mains water flows at a rate of 20 litres a minute, that’s 29,200 litres gone ev­ery year. Even if your water comes out of a tank, the amount you are chuck­ing down the plug is still more than enough to keep the grass green on your lawn through­out the sum­mer.

Small things mat­ter. For in­stance, turn­ing the ther­mo­stat down by only one de­gree will pro­vide sav­ings of up to €70 a year on av­er­age. Tin­ker­ing with your ther­mo­stat ev­ery quar­ter could draw div­i­dends, es­pe­cially if you can crank down that heat­ing a lit­tle more, and take other en­ergy-sav­ing steps.

Let’s start with the es­sen­tials – tea or cof­fee if you are so in­clined. Boil­ing only what you need in a ket­tle is def­i­nitely some­thing to con­sider. It costs around 25p in the UK or 20 cents in France to heat a full ket­tle. So, if you and your fam­ily are par­tial to a cuppa you can eas­ily frit­ter away a few eu­ros a day. It makes more sense to use only the water re­quired to fill a mug or two rather than fill the ket­tle to the brim.

Hot stuff

It’s worth re­mem­ber­ing that many older prop­er­ties in France have no or poor wall and roof in­su­la­tion so even if the cli­mate is a de­gree or two warmer than the south of Eng­land, you’re los­ing out due to good old-fash­ioned use­less con­struc­tion meth­ods.

It is es­ti­mated that as much as a third of the heat used in a de­tached prop­erty is lost, even more in a home with solid walls. So, al­though in­su­la­tion is not cheap, it is worth get­ting an in­stal­la­tion quote and ask­ing po­ten­tial sup­pli­ers to es­ti­mate the cost sav­ing over time.

Arthur Cut­ler, di­rec­tor of plan­ning and de­sign ser­vice French Plans, told us: “An in­di­vid­ual ther­mal sur­vey can be car­ried out by spe­cial­ist com­pa­nies, with rec­om­men­da­tions as to in­su­la­tion, and po­ten­tial sav­ings as a

con­se­quence. Grants are some­times avail­able also, but are re­gional, so there is no gen­eral way to ad­vise on this point. My ad­vice would be to in­stall as much in­su­la­tion as pos­si­ble within your bud­get. Ev­ery cen­time spent on it, as­sum­ing cor­rect in­stal­la­tion, will re­pay the prop­erty owner in the long run.”

Light at the end of the tun­nel At the other end of the scale are the day-to-day tac­tics that, if thought about, can save a small for­tune. Ev­ery­one knows that LED and halo­gen light bulbs save you money, but what about dim­mer switches? Yes, they can add to the mood; pop them down a few clicks and an evening in with a friend can take on a whole new mean­ing.

What’s al­most as good is the fact that a dim­mer can lengthen the life of your light bulb, which is no mi­nor thing when you con­sider the in­con­ve­nience of need­ing to shop for a fresh one, in­vari­ably af­ter dark, let alone the sev­eral eu­ros a pack costs. Cost­ing less than €10 for four, dim­mers are a worth­while in­vest­ment.

Tele­vi­sion sets, com­put­ers and stereo sys­tems are a main­stay of most homes, and it is es­ti­mated that the av­er­age house­hold spends up to €80 a year on elec­tric­ity bills just by keep­ing ap­pli­ances on standby. Us­ing an en­ergy-sav­ing plug can of­fer huge sav­ings – com­par­a­tively speak­ing – with an an­nual out­lay of less than €3.

These money-sav­ing op­tions may not amount to much on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis, but com­bined they could make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to your bills and your bud­get. If it pays for your chil­dren to visit dur­ing the sum­mer or win­ter hol­i­days, or con­trib­utes to an ex­tra meal or two in your favourite French res­tau­rant, then it’s a win all round.

It is es­ti­mated that the av­er­age house­hold spends up to €80 a year on elec­tric­ity just by keep­ing ap­pli­ances on standby

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