HOW TO START ELECTRICITY SERVICE IN FRANCE
EDF (Electricité de France) is the state-owned and largest electricity supplier in France, households in France are free to open an account for electricity with the supplier of their choice.
To start electricity service in your new home in France, contact an energy supplier as soon as possible (ideally about two weeks before moving in) to open an account. You will need to have the following information to open an electricity account:
- Your contact information: name, e-mail address, phone number
- The address of your new home, including the floor and apartment number if it is a flat (e.g. second floor, door on the right)
- The name of your new home’s previous occupant
- Your French bank account number (your RIB)
It’s a good idea to decide upon which supplier and electricity rate you would like to pay before signing up with EDF straight away. While most households in France go with EDF for electricity, most alternate suppliers offer better rates.
YOUR ELECTRICITY OPTIONS
There are a few things you need to think about when deciding on an electricity plan. First, electricity prices in France are broken down into two types of charges: a fixed subscription charge (le prix de l’abonnement), and the per kWh rate. If you are a small electricity consumer (i.e. if there are just one or two people in your household), try to find a plan with a low subscription charge. If you are a high energy consumer you will want to find a plan with a low per kWh rate to save money.
The other particularity about electricity in France is that you can choose the puissance de compteur, or power rating for your meter. Fixed subscription charges change depending on the power rating (larger power ratings are more expensive). Power ratings range from 3 kVA (for small student residences) to 36 kVA, though the majority of French households use 6 kVA.
If you do decide to go with EDF’s regulated rates, you have three options. Your choice of option comes down to the number of electrical appliances you wish to run simultaneously. The cost of your fixed subscription charge and energy bill will depend on the option you choose.
Option Base For 3 to 18 kVA – With this option, the rate you pay for electricity stays the same, regardless of the time of day or the season. This option is recommended for those with few electrical appliances and for those who don’t have flexible schedules.
Option Creuse For 6 to 36* kVA – This is a peak/off peak plan where the per kWh rate is more expensive in the day but cheaper at night (heures creuses). However, the fixed subscription charge is higher than the Option Base. This option is recommended for those with electric heating, water boiler, washing machine, etc, and who are able to be somewhat flexible about when they use their appliances.
Option Tempo Oh la la! A rather complicated option which will test your organisational skills to the limit. With this option, the per kWh rate changes depending not only on the time of day (like the Option Creuse ), but also according to the day itself. These days are classed into the patriotic colour combination of blue (low rate days), white (higher rate days), and red days (peak rate days). EDF publishes the “colour” of each day by 3pm the day before, which you can find here. The Tempo rate may be a good option for large houses with multiple appliances and/or homes with a swimming pool. It is probably not a good idea for households that have a strict schedule and aren’t able to be flexible about when they use more electricity.
HELP WITH CHOOSING YOUR ELECTRICITY OPTIONS
This website provides information about consumer rights, traps to avoid, model letters to send to change electricity suppliers, as well as a forum to discuss other electricity companies – but it is entirely in French.
CONNECTING AND DISCONNECTING ELECTRICITY
To connect to electricity, you need to open an account with an electricity supplier, which you should try to do before your moving date.
To disconnect electricity (if you are moving out), simply call your energy supplier at least 48 hours before leaving. You may need to provide a meter reading for both your old and new homes in order to facilitate a quick transfer of service.
YOUR ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION
Electricity consumption is measured in kWh as in the UK. The average French household consumes about 4 673 kWh per year, though how much you will consume depends on your home’s size, number of occupants, electrical appliances, etc.
Check out the ‘Médiateur national de l’énergie’ electricity consumption calculator
France uses electricity at approximately 220 volts/50hz like most of the world outside of North America. You are able to use most electrical appliances in France that you have been using in the UK as the voltage is also the same (though you will need an adaptor). If you come from a country where appliances are designed for 110 volts/60hz, you will need a voltage converter or a transformer depending on the type of appliances or equipment you plan to use in France.