Energy costs in Spain are among the highest in Europe, but there are a few ways in which you can reduce your costs and enjoy cheaper bills.
Energy costs in Spain are among the highest in Europe. Electricity costs work out at an average of €0.22 per kWh, above the EU average and currently placing the country equal 5th with Portugal and behind only Germany, Denmark, Belgium and Ireland. Gas costs average at €0.09 per kWh, which makes Spain equal 2nd most expensive country in the EU behind only Sweden.
But there are ways in which you can reduce your energy costs in Spain so that you’re not paying through the nose. This guide will explain a little bit about what energy costs in Spain are before offering tips on how you can save money on your bills.
Energy costs in Spain
Energy costs in Spain have undergone changes in recent years. Changes were made to electricity tariffs in 2013 which increased the average electricity bill by 3.2%, mainly through increasing the fixed power rate. This mostly affected those with second homes only used for part of the year as well as those using low amounts of electricity (e.g. single-person households).
Spain is aiming to become the first EU country to make the full transition to electricity smart meters, and is on schedule to have all households fitted with a smart meter by the end of 2018. Smart meters enable readings to be carried out remotely according to hourly use, meaning that estimated bills can be avoided. Installation of the smart meter is free but rental is around €0.50 more a month than for the old meters. If you haven’t yet received your smart meter, contact your electricity provider.
Similar to many countries, electricity bills in Spain are made up of both fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are set amounts which have to be paid regardless of how much electricity you use. These are:
- Power capacity: the rate you are contracted for in kWh x days x price
- Meter rental costs. You can opt to buy a smart meter outright, which means you won’t have to pay the monthly rental fee.
- Maintenance contract (this is an optional extra).
Variable costs are:
- Electricity consumption
- Electricity tax, which is applied to both power capacity and consumption
Energy costs in Spain are subject to VAT at the current rate.
Save on your fixed power rate
Part of your bill is a fixed amount depending on the kWh 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. Companies often put customers on higher kWh rates than required as people often don’t bother to check this. By reducing your fixed power rate, you could save around €60 a year.
If you’re not sure which rate to choose, use the following guide:
- Small to medium sized homes with gas heating and electrical appliances: 3.3 – 3.45kWh
- Larger homes and/or air conditioning units: 5.5 – 5.75kWh
- Larger homes with heavier electrical consumption (eg. heating): 9.9 – 10.35kWh
If you are an Endesa customer, you can use the capacity calculator on the company’s website to work out what your rate should be.
Once you’ve worked out what your fixed rate should be, you can choose between three types of fixed cost contract:
- Voluntary Price for the Small Consumer (Precio Voluntario para el Pequeno Consumidor – PVPC). This is usually a better option for households that don’t use a lot of electricity, e.g. single-person households.
- Fixed price for 12 months.
- A bilateral contract with any distributor.
Saving on your variable rate – changing tariffs
The most effective way of saving energy costs in Spain is to shop around and find the cheapest and most suitable tariff. You can save a significant amount of money doing this as there is around €200 difference between the cheapest and most expensive electricity tariffs in Spain.
There are more than 100 different tariffs available in Spain so shopping around can be tricky. You can choose a tariff based on your particular lifestyle and preferences, for example a tariff with a different rate at weekends.
Free online comparison service
You can shop for tariffs using a free online comparison service (in English) available through Money Saver Spain and Watoify. All you need to do is input your details and you will receive a detailed report on your tariff options.
Compare using the official government website
You can also compare energy costs in Spain through the Comision Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMS) which is the official government website (in Spanish) where you can compare electricity and gas tariffs, as well as joint offers.
You will need to provide the following when comparing energy costs in Spain:
- Your postcode
- Power capacity in kWh
- Annual consumption estimate
The website will show you how much you will pay at full price. You can also choose to see rates with extra services added, as well as compare whether you would make a saving if you combined your electricity and gas through a single provider.
Changing tariffs in Spain is easy and free. You will need to quote your Unified Supply Point Code (CUPS) when contacting the energy provider. This is an alphanumeric code beginning with ES.
Saving on maintenance service contract costs
Another possible way of saving energy costs in Spain is by reviewing your maintenance service contract. Do you have one of these? If you have a separate boiler contract too, you may be paying for the same thing twice. Tariffs sometimes come with mandatory maintenance contracts included. Not everyone is aware of this fee. If you have a new home, you might not want to pay extra for maintenance if you don’t think you’ll need it. Maintenance fees are around €120 per year so you’ll need to consider whether you think this is value for money.
Government allowance (Bono Social)
Currently the Spanish Government has a discount scheme called the ‘social bonus’ (bono social). This is a reduction applied to electricity bills for those who are on a PVPC contract less than 10kWh and are classified as a vulnerable consumer. These discounts are:
- 25% for vulnerable consumers (e.g. pensioners, unemployed) who meet certain income requirements
- 40% for severe vulnerable consumers who meet certain income requirements
- Additional discounts for vulnerable consumers at risk of social exclusion because they are being served by social services that pay at least 50% of the bill.
For more information on the bono social and how to request it, see here.
Reducing your energy costs in winter
During the colder winter months, you may find that you need to heat your home to keep it warm. Spain is warmer in winter than England but it can still get below zero, especially in homes facing north or east. You can look to save on energy costs in Spain during winter by looking into a few options.
Heating vs air-conditioning
If your property has air-conditioning as many properties in Spain do, this can also be used as a heater. However, it’s not all that efficient in a large room and can be expensive to run. If you have a large property heated through air-con in winter, you could end up with a hefty bill.
You can buy electric radiators in Spain which are more economical to run. Oil-filled radiators are the most economic and efficient, although they are quite bulky and unattractive. It’s worth spending a bit of time working out which is the best way of keeping your place warm in the winter, especially if you’re trying to budget or are in a colder region of Spain.
Paraffin heaters are another viable option for keeping your Spanish property warm in winter. They’re low on fuel consumption, with one litre of fuel keeping a room warm for around 5 hours. Most hardware store in Spain will sell paraffin heaters. Prices start at around €100 with 20 litres of paraffin (which should last you around a month) costing up to €50.
Calor gas heaters
Calor gas heaters in Spain are slightly cheaper than paraffin heaters, starting at around €70, altough you’ll have to pay more for models with variable heat controls. The cost of the gas bottles depend on the size of the bottle. A large bottle will cost around €50. This should last around a month, slightly less in larger properties. You’ll also need to buy your first bottle (around €40-50) from a hardware store, gas station or ironmonger (ferreteria).
Many Spanish homes, even new builds, have open fireplaces so it’s possible to save on energy costs in Spain by sitting in front of a relaxing open fire. Wood burning stoves start from around €600, but you can also try a log basket open fire which is cheaper and won’t make the room too hot. You can pay anything from €30 – 300 or more for an individually made cast iron log basket.
Some wood providers sell logs through self-service, where you stack up and pay for what you take (costs can vary between €1-10 per kilo). You can also save money by collecting logs from a nearby wood or forest if this is an option. It’s worth checking with neighbours as they may know where is a good place to source free wood or they may be willing to club together to help save on costs. You can find local suppliers through a business directory such as Paginas Amarillas.