How to manage your energy bills when you move to Spain?

By :- Louise Jackson, On July 25, 2018 in ::-Europe

Most apartments that you move into will already have gas and electricity set up, ready to go, ready to come out of your account. However, if you want to be smart about how much you pay for your bills, you should first learn a little bit about how things work in Espana. There are a fair few differences between how bills work in the United Kingdom and in Spain, and not all the same regulations will apply, not to mention your right to switch is a little more restricted. Read through this article and you’ll have a pretty good idea about how you should proceed.

Can I switch my tariff?

Yes, you can, but it is not as simple as in the UK. Not only does switching actually take longer, but you also need to have the permission of your landlord. In order to switch your tariff, you need to be ‘el titular’ of your contract, which, regardless of switching or not, should be the case for your own, legal benefit.

To switch ‘la titularidad’, you need to get in touch with your landlord. You will most likely be asked for the following information:

  • Documentation of the new account holder
  • Documentation of the old account holder
  • Universal Supply Point Code (CUPS) that appears on your bill
  • Bank account number for the new direct debit
  • Your contracted ‘potencia’ (see details further down)

Once you have done this, you can switch your tariff just as you would at home, to a degree. You can use the same comparison engine-style switching method. There are a number of comparison companies in operations, such as Selectra & El Rastreador.

How long does is take?

Unlike in the UK, where moderators, OFGEM, make sure that switches take no longer than 21 days , no such regulation exists in Spain at present. Some people should expect to wait months for their switch to come into effect, whereas others may be lucky and have it come into effect in a few weeks. Like most things in Spain, things take much longer than in Britain, that’s something that you’re going to have to get used to in all aspects of your life.

What is ‘potencia’?

This concept does not exist in the United Kingdom. Perhaps the best translation would be ‘contracted power’, but no such direct translation exists that is commonly understood.

Potencia is the amount of electricity that you can have in operation at any one time in your home. If you exceed the amount of potencia contrada, your electricity will trip and everything will be switched off like a power cut. There are various levels of potencia, each one costing more the higher your limit. There are currently seven levels of potencia, these are as follows:

  • 3 kW
  • 45 kW
  • 6 kW
  • 75 kW
  • 9 kW
  • 05 kW
  • 2 kW

If you live in a small apartment, there would be no point at all in paying for the highest level of potencia. If there is only a couple of people living in your home, either 3.45 kW or 4.6 kW will be quite enough, especially if you are using gas hobs for your cooking. The best method would be test 3.45 kW, as it’s much cheaper, then upgrade if you find your electricity switching itself off frequently.

Which company should I choose?

Much like in Great Britain, there is a huge amount of suppliers in operation across Spain. There is no particular company that is ‘the best’, or one that you should choose over others. What you should do instead is choose the best tariff. Using a comparison service you can see the cheapest tariffs available to you at any one time. Spanish energy prices change hourly, so choosing a fixed tariff may be the smart option.

The market leaders in Spain are currently:

  • Iberdrola
  • Endesa
  • Gas Natural Fenosa
  • EDP Espana
  • Viesgo

Other useful information

‘Servicio’ – Many companies will charge you a service charge that will come along with your gas and electricity. This will be added to your account automatically but can be removed and is optional. This is kinda of like a insurance for your boiler and appliances for if anything is to go wrong as a result of your energy supply. Most natives do not pay this charge.

How often are you billed? – The usual billing period is every two months. Your consumption will be measured over a two month period and a billing period will be established that will usually occur on the same date, every two months.

Who reads my meter? – The distribution companies for your region will come and read your meter, but much like in the UK, it is not regular. You should get into the habit of sending meter readings to your supply company to avoid any estimated bills.

What is the average household consumption in Spain? – The average household consumption  is a rather different to in the UK. The average household uses around 3,500 kWh of electricity, which is similar, but uses only 5,050 kWh of gas, less than half of the UK.