by Elliot Waterhouse

Whether you are moving to France, have lived here for a while or you’re just interested in how gas and electricity differs between France and the United Kingdom, this is the page for you. Here we’ll compare just how different these two countries are when it comes to your energy bills. In one corner, we have Great Britain, whose energy markets have been open since 1990, and in the other, the slightly younger, French market, which has been open since 2007. Let’s see how they compare.

Which country is cheaper?

When we consider which country is the cheapest, we first need to establish how much energy is used and how much energy costs.

In the first case, it appears that the French use much more electricity, whereas the UK uses a little more gas. The average yearly usage amounts currently stand as so:

United Kingdom: 3,100 kWh of electricity & 12,500 kWh of gas
France: 4,670 kWh of electricity and 11,800 kWh of gas

You may think that the discrepancies between the two usages level the playing field; however, due to electricity being much more expensive per kWh in general, people in France are destined to pay more in their average energy bills.

When it comes down to the actual price of energy, there is not a great deal of difference. France’s electricity is a tad cheaper, whereas in the UK, gas is a little cheaper. Arguably, that slight reduction in electricity is more beneficial, especially with France’s higher usage, but the verdict stands as the UK being the cheaper of the two in general.

Verdict: United Kingdom

How many suppliers are there?

When we compare the two markets in terms of size, the maturity of the British market really shines through. Naturally you would expect the market that has been open for an additional 17 years to have a considerably larger fleet of companies; however, the difference is absolutely ginormous.

The number of residential energy suppliers currently operating in the two countries is as follows:-

France: 12
United Kingdom: 162

This disparity also exists in the way that people switch their tariffs. Energy comparison sites are rather commonplace now in Great Britain, whereas in France, they are still a relatively new concept. With just a couple of companies in this industry circulating, Great Britain trumps France in terms of size.

Contracted power

The way that energy contracts work in France is slightly different to in the UK. Many European countries have the concept of ‘contracted power’, which is reflected in your unit rate and translates to the amount of electrical usage you can have connected at any one time in your home. Within reason, British households can connect as many electrical items as they wish in their house and pay the same amount for it, whereas in France, you need to adjust your contracted power to suit your household needs.

The more contracted power you want, the more you will pay for it. This is also the case in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. The available ‘puissance’ are:

3 kVa (Intensité 15)
6 kVa (Intensité 30)
9 kVa (Intensité 45)
12 kVa (Intensité 60)

Elliot Waterhouse works for Selectra, an energy comparison company that provides information for all aspects of the British energy markets. They also operate in France and can be contacted on 09 73 72 73 00″
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