MoneySaverSpain: Reducing energy costs in Spain
Major changes were made to electricity tariffs in Spain in August 2013, so see how the new changes will affect your electricity bill and how you can reduce your energy costs in Spain.
Major changes were made to electricity tariffs in August 2013, although electricity companies are still calling for an end to Government regulated tariffs. It's probably just a matter of time until these tariffs disappear for most households, however, see how the new changes affect you and what you can do to save on your electric bill.
Spain's new energy tariffs
Official data puts the increase in the average electricity bill at 3.2 percent as of August (on top of a 1.2 percent increase in July), but behind every average you need to look at the real changes and who will be hardest hit:
- The fixed power rate has increased by 44 percent;
- The kWh rate has decreased by 62 percent.
Those who have a second home that's only used a few months of the year will see increases, as will those who consume a small amount of electricity (single-person households), because these will not be able to take advantage of the decrease in the kWh rate which could offset the increase in the fixed rate. It's probably a good time to review your bills now if you haven't done so already, as we explain below.
Meters are being changed to the new smart meters in all households that have less than 15kW contracted. Current meters are said to be inaccurate and new smart meters have to be in all homes by the end of 2018 (35 percent should be substituted by the end of 2013 and 70 percent by the end of 2016).
If you get a letter saying that your meter is going to be changed, you can request to be present to ensure that the final reading of your old meter is taken correctly – in fact you can call your supplier to see when they expect to change your meter. Changing the meter is free; although some companies initially tried to charge EUR 10 per meter, this has been stopped by the National Energy Commission.
The monthly Government-fixed rental price for this new meter for normal tariffs works out at EUR 0.81 or EUR 1.15 (depending on type installed), but Endesa has challenged this price in the courts and is pending a decision to be able to charge more. Homes with the night rate tariff will benefit, as they previously needed a meter with two counters. You can opt to pay for a smart meter and its installation (if your home meets certain technical requirements) and not pay the monthly rental fee
Save on your fixed power rate
Part of your bill is a fixed amount depending on the KW rate contracted. So check your bills from the last 12-month period and see if you are using considerably less than what you're paying for – if you are, call your supplier to reduce the rate. If you're not sure which rate to choose, use the following guide:
- Small to medium sized homes with gas heating and electrical appliances: 3.3kW;
- Larger homes and/or air conditioning units: 5.5 kW;
- Larger homes with heavier electrical consumption (eg. heating): 10 kW.
Use the official tariff
While it's still available, in most cases for contracts under 10kW then you should be using the Tarifa de Ultimo Recurso (TUR) rather than the free market tariffs. Very few companies offer prices below the TUR and these may be subject to contracting additional services, thereby cancelling out any savings.
Switch to cheaper night tariffs
Note: This rate is being phased out by some companies.
This type of tariff may be suitable for people who are considering installing storage heating systems and also for people who can choose when to use their appliances that consume the most electricity.
For contracts under 15kW, companies apply the economical rate normally between 22:00–12:00 in winter and from 23:00–13:00 in summer. Rates during these hours can be around half the normal rates. At all other times, a different rate is applied which is approximately 8 –20 percent above the normal rate.
It's only worth changing to this type of tariff if you can be sure of consuming between 30–40 percent of your electricity during the economical rate hours, so if you're a big air-con user in the summer afternoons it's better to stay on the normal tariff.
Use the official National Energy Commission website to compare current tariffs from different companies and the official TUR rate. You'll need to put in your postcode and annual consumption. The useful thing about this official site is that you can compare normal tariffs and night tariffs by estimating your usage and see whether over a year you could save.
Currently the Spanish Government has a special discount (bono social) that is applied automatically for those households that contract under 3kW.
Additionally the following people can also request this discount, even if they have 3kW or more contracted:
- Pensioners on low incomes,
- families with 3+ children, and
- households with all members unemployed.
In all cases the tariff contracted must be the TUR, as this special discount does not apply to free market tariffs. The difference for a small household can be a saving of around 25 percent per bill. Of course, this discount may be cancelled at any time by the Government.
Reprinted with permission of Money Saver Spain.
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