Energy in France

energy in France

Most energy providers in France let you choose between a flat rate or an usage-based payment system, if you go for the off-peak hours. Do check the times during which you would be able to use all of the energy (in Paris, par exemple, this depends on which arrondissement you live in) and they vary from provider to provider – I know, minefield. The good news is, that the offering right now is limited. I myself use mint which is 100% renewable energy and they have pretty good prices compared to EDF – and they speak my language(s).

What is it ?

Different types of energy in France 

In France, you can get your energy in several forms : 

  • Electricity : mostly produced by our very own nuclear power plants
  • Gaz : not produced in France, we buy it from the Russians, like every European country…
  • Oil : yep, some people have oil tanks in their garden that needs to be filled but it’s mostly in rural areas.

In France, the energy market is pretty much run by the giants EDF and Engie. Both have an English option on their website. However, the market is deregulated and recently new players have started entering the market, making it more interesting for you.

Can you choose between gas or electricity ?

If you rent a place, you’ll most likely not have a choice. It’s gonna be the same if you buy a place in a city like Paris, Lyon or Marseille. It is quite costly to switch a type of installation for another.

However, if you buy a place in a rural area or if you build your own house, it is very likely that you can choose the type of energy that you want.

What is a compteur Linky ?

It’s an electric meter that automatically sends your consumption data to your provider. This means that you don’t have to fill in summaries every couple of months and send them out to your provider.

How does it work ?

How to subscribe to an energy provider

in France?

First you should have the following information:

  • Does your house use electricity or gas, or both?
  • Do you have electric heating?
  • Do you have an electric boiler, a tankless water heater, etc?

Understanding what types of energy your property runs on will help you identify the right provider for you, bringing you to the second checklist:

  • Do you primarily use energy during the day?
  • Do you primarily use energy during off-peak hours?

Then the process is quite easy, you type in power provider in the internet with some criterias (like french provider, green provider etc…) and just get on with it.

Most of the time, they will only ask you for some specifics about your place, like square footage, type of heating etc) and your RIB.

What are heures creuses and heures pleines ?

You have several tariff options.

  1. A classic subscription where you pay every Kwh, whatever the hour of the day, at the same price.
  2. An adjustable option with heures creuses and heures pleines.

In the second option, for 8 hours a day, the cost of the Kwh will be decreased. These are the “heures creuses”. However, the cost in “heures pleines” will be slightly raised. The evolution of raise or decrease depends on your provider.

This is very interesting financially for you if you have electric heat and an electric boiler. Because usually, you can program these appliances to switch on at night time, so during heures creuses. It also is a great advantage if you’re an insomniac that loves to do laundry at 2am.

The heures creuses and heures pleines depend on the area you’re in.

For example, heures creuses in Paris are from 23h to 7h (11pm to 7am for our english speaking friends) while in Lille it’s from 1h to 7h (1am to 7am) then 12h30 to 14h30.

How to cancel your subscription and switch

from an energy provider to another ?

Similarly to insurances etc, power providers love when you subscribe and make it super easy for you to get a contract atc, even though it’s not always tailored to your needs. However, they are much less happy to see you go and are sometimes sore losers that won’t make it easy to cancel a subscription.

In my experience, the easiest way to cancel is : 

  1. to call them directly and ask them to do so
  2. Ask them to send you a confirmation email

Indeed, most of the time, you won’t find any cancelling button or category on the website.

If you move, you won’t have to cancel, most providers offer to tie your contract to another address for you.

However, if you move and want to cancel your subscription and get a new one from a different provider, make sure you do that at least 2 weeks before your move. Indeed, processing time is sometime quite long and if you move in the winter, you don’t want to have a stone cold place for a week.

Are there green providers in France ?

Of course, you’ve got a couple French ones like : 

Are there different types of payments ?

You can pay your energy in several ways.

  1. Every month, you can receive a bill that tells you exactly how much you consumed the last month and pay based on that.
  2. There is another option where you pay the same amount every month for 12 months. And then, based on your consumption either you have to pay more or your provider reimburses what you paid in excess.

Both choices have their advantages and drawbacks. For myself, I pay the same amount every month and get a yearly adjustment. It helps to build my budget.

Tips and tricks 

  • The average electricity bill in France is around 900€/year
  • 2 weeks before moving to avoid interruptions (I had the freezing experience of moving into another apartment in winter and spent a week without heating because of that…) 
  • A power bill is considered like a “justificatif de domicile” and can be used to prove that you are a resident in France.
  • Choose the option heures creuses/heures pleines if you are 100% electric.

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