Could another household be tapping into our electricity? High EDF bills for empty house!

I read over many of the previous postings regarding high EDF bills but most were previous to 2020 and I wanted to get some fresh perspectives.

We bought our house about 5 years ago and did some Airbnb rentals during the first couple of summers. But the home is almost always vacant nowadays, yet we’ve been getting high EDF bills. I emailed them and they responded that electricity is definitely being used by something. They showed me how to view the monthly usage statistics, which I did.

The only electrical device we had on was a dehumidifier that a local neighbor set up for us last summer. Maybe the fridge could have been plugged in as well (not sure). We’ve now had the neighbor turn off the dehumidifier and I believe he also turned off the electricity. This was 3-4 weeks ago so moving forward, there should be zero usage and no charges, right? Or maybe there is a base charge just for having the service? It’s been so long since we set up the account that I don’t recall.

Looking over past years, I see the charges used to be around 30Euros/month, then it went up to 40- to 50-ish Euros. I was shocked when our Sept. 29, 2020 bill was 106 Euros! Could a dehumidifier account for that much usage??

Since someone had mentioned breaking down the bill into Abonnement and Consommation, here it is:

Total Abonnement: 23,19 Euros
Total Consommation: Conso (kWh) = 489 (I see that 218 of those hours were during heures creuses, and 271 were during heures pleines; the total cost for consumption was 49,19 Euros.

Then taxes et contributions were added: 19,82 Euros, for a total of 92,20 Euros. Plus two rates of TVA, leading to the grand total of 106,70.

I’m just wondering if there could possibly be something strange going on like a nearby home drawing on our electricity through some underhanded set-up? I’m not a conspiracy theory type of person at all, but how does an empty home use so much electricity?

I guess I’ve muddied the waters by starting to leave that dehumidifier going over the summer and into fall (for good reason and I don’t regret doing so). But prior to that, let’s just assume the electricity had not been shut off and perhaps the fridge was plugged in. Would that really run me 40-50 Euros in EDF bills?

I’m inexperienced with French utility bills and have just paid them over the years. But I don’t like to think that I’ve been taken advantage of.

The statement says we have Tarif Bleu - Heures Creuses.

Do EDF bills come every two months?

Any thoughts on this are appreciated and I apologize for the post turning out longer than intended. I wanted to include pertinent information to help garner helpful feedback.


There is a base charge depending on how much power you are on, and consumption is on top of that, high rate and low rate - all this should be detailed on your bill, which comes every 2 months with usually a régularisation one way or another every so often.
Have you got a linky meter? Has your meter been read or are they guesstimate readings?

Dehumidifiers go from maybe 150-200W for a small compressor based model to 700+W for a large desiccant model.

If you have it plumbed to drain continuously that’s 2-3 units per day up to 18-20 units per day so certainly could be up to 100€ per month for a large dehumidifier (depending on how damp the property is, of course, and whether it runs continuously or cuts off once a particular humidity is reached).

What is the dehumidifier model?

Yes, a Linky meter was installed a couple of years ago. I’m not 100% sure whether they are guesstimates sometimes or solely based on meter readings. When I emailed the English-language Enedis service, they replied professionally and said that electricity was definitely being used and attached a reading of the past few months (at that point). I could see that usage was reflected–but if that is usage stemming simply from electricity being on, perhaps including a fridge at that point, it still seems high.

But your point at estimates being done with a later balancing out, that never happened, although I do recall that being mentioned when I first signed up over the phone. I’ve lived in the U.S. during the whole time I’ve owned the house, so I feel very out of the loop on how this should work.

Good questions Paul and thanks for addressing this part of my posting.

Here is the Amazon France link to the unit we purchased. It says it’s 450 Watts.

And our neighbor did set it up to drain continuously into a sink or something in a storage room. That area of the house (which is in the Languedoc region) was quite damp, so I can imagine the unit was running a lot. He said it switches itself off once once it gets to the desired level of dryness in the air (or something along those lines).

So in your estimation, does it sound feasible that our bill (which Véronique confirmed comes every 2 months) for 106 Euros is correct?

Assuming that is the case, what is your sense about bimonthly bills for 40-50 Euros when nothing but maybe the fridge was plugged in? This was prior to buying the dehumidifier.

Now that our neighbor has turned off the electricity, will we just get billed for the base rate but ZERO usage?

Thanks guys, we appreciate the information!

Well, if it runs continuously that’s 12 units a day…

If another household was tapping into your electricity the bill would be a lot higher than that! I suggest you get the EDF et moi app, and the you can look at real time electricity usage. Which of course should be 0 if the electricity is cut off. If it isn’t you can monitor how much is being used and when which might give so e clues.

Unfortunately, U.S. iPhones aren’t able to download the French utility apps. Or least I’ve never been able to do so. Probably folks with UK phones can do it, I’m guessing.

And by “units,” you are referring to how EDF charges? X number of Euros per unit of electricity?

I guess this is reassuring (although I still feel like I’ve paid too much all these years for an empty house, but perhaps my mistake was not keeping the electricity totally off) and now that we’ve stopped needing the dehumidifier (no damp smell currently according to my neighbor) and have had him turn off the electricity altogether, I will keep tabs on the charges.

I went to my Enedis account and kept trying to download the stats, but nothing happened. Can anyone point me to the specific steps to download the usage for a 2-month period?

Thanks again all!

A “Unit” of electricity is the amount of electrical power used by a 1000 watt (1 kilowatt) appliance that is used continuously for 1 hour. This is known as a Kilowatt/Hour and is normally written as Kw/h.
Therefore a 500 watt appliance used continuously for 2 hours uses 1 Kw/h, and a 2000 watt appliance used continuously for 30 minutes also uses 1 Kw/h.
On the Tariff Bleu the day is divided into Heures Plein (full price hours) and Heures Creuses (hollow hours) which are usually between 11.30pm and 7.30am when the price per kilowatt hour used is roughly about 40% cheaper.
The charge for the amount of electricity used is the number of ‘Units’ (Kilowatt Hours) used multiplied by the cost per unit in Euros. There is also the charge for the “Abonnement” which is basically what you could call a standing service charge for the privilege of having the electricity available for your use, and this charge is levied whether you actually use any power or not.
It is important to realise that the ‘Abonnement’ charge varies according to the amount of electricity that the meter is set to allow you to use at any one time. The cheapest rate is for a maximum power consumption of 30 amps which relates to about 6250 watts at any one time.
If you have the maximum power set to say 45 or even 60 amps, then you will be paying a higher ‘Abonnement’ charge than is necessary. Check your bill to see what rate you are paying for, and reduce it if you can.
There are also some minor charges levied which are effectively special taxes to pay for improvements to the supply network.
Once all these charges are added together, then TVA (Sales Tax) is added at the rate of 20%.
Unfortunately the cost of electrical power here in France is considerably higher than it is in the USA.
Don’t worry about having trouble understanding the complexities of it all. It took me ages to explain it all to my American wife and to educate her to turn lights and other appliances off when they are not in use.
I hope you can understand my English spellings OK. My wife and I have constant discussions about whether it should be s or z. :smiley:
Have a safe day.


Thanks for that very helpful explanation Robert, and I had no trouble whatsoever understanding you, LOL! Good job!

What is the “average” monthly bill one could expect, say for a couple? It’s always helpful if you have something to compare your own bill to, you know what I mean?

I didn’t realize that French electricity rates were just plain higher than here in the U.S., so it’s actually a relief to know that. I will scrutinize my bill to see which level of maximum power we signed up for.

Do people set their appliances to run during heures creuses to get the lower rates? How does that aspect work?

Thanks again!

Hi Wendy,

Most reasonable quality appliances such as washing machines (front loading automatics) and tumble dryers here have a delayed start function so that they can be set to run during the cheaper night time hours, which is what we usually always do with ours. (Madame does her special delicate washing during the day though.)
Our hot water is also electrically heated and is on a timer so that it only runs at night, and our dishwasher also has a delayed start function so that it runs at night.

Our own electricity bill is arranged so that we pay the same amount each month throughout the year, and is currently €107 a month (€1,284 per year), which is probably quite a lot more than most folks here pay. There are only the two of us in a fairly large house, but then we have such ‘luxuries’ as electrically heated towel rails and electric radiant heaters to supplement the oil fired central heating in the bathroom. Also, the wife suffers with Arthritis and finds a bath full of nice hot water to be very soothing, so we use more electricity than most folks who only take showers when it comes to heating the hot water.

By the way — The answer to your original question is; Yes, it is possible.
We live in what you could call an end of terrace house, and when we first came here we discovered that some of the lights in our neighbours home were working from our electricity meter, and that also the electric pump for the water well that is inside the house that is next door but one from us was also connected to our meter !!
The way to check is to make sure that every thing electrical is turned off in your house, and then (armed with a flashlight), see if there is still a flow of electricity through your meter one dark evening when you know that your neighbours are at home.
Actually it is fairly unlikely that the neighbours are using your electricity, but then this is France, and anything is possible here, especially in rural areas.
For example: There is a water pipe in our garage that is connected to the pump on the well that is in the house two doors away from us, and it used to be that two central heating radiators in our immediate neighbours house were connected to our central heating system.
Strange, but true.
Ah, but then this is France. :crazy_face:

I would be very tempted to switch off the remaining appliances and see at the meter if there is any consumption.

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Hello again Wendy,

I forgot to mention last night that our electricity bill is also higher than most people’s because we have two portable air conditioning units that we use extensively during hot weather.

By the way; The current price of gasoline for the car works out to $6.20 per US Gallon (all taxes included) given today’s prices and exchange rates.
On the other hand we do have a health care system that is both exceedingly good quality and hugely cheaper than US health insurance premiums, so it’s just a case of ‘swings and roundabouts’ in actuality.

You also have a very expensive abonnement! Looks like you are signed up to 18kVa. This is what we have to supply both our house and our gîte with tons of electrical equipment including 2 air source heat pumps, 2 electric ovens etc etc. If you changed to a 3kVa tarif blue en option base it would drop to about 9€ a month. (You need to work out what you might need, as if house is to be used then 9kVa probably more practical.)

And unless like Robert you really make an effort to take advantage of heures creuse/heure plein then this is also an expensive option as the heures plein price is high. We worked it out on the likely pattern of usage for us and it cam in much higher than using straightforward tariff bleu.

I concur. Also 18kVA implies that you have a three phase (triphasé) supply, unless you are one of those left with the now unavailable 18kVA single phase version. If you do have triphasé you can only drop to a 6kVA minimum (3 x 10A), but you’d be hard pushed to keep the supply on with such a low amount of power per phase.

If your property requires 18kVA to function properly then it’s best not to tinker as you can’t keep moving up & down the tarif bands at will; if you could then everyone would be switching down every summer & up every winter.

Regarding the big question; yes, using a dehumidifier of the size you mention could easily give you the bills you have mentioned. Equally, there could be some extraneous use of your power (I have come across it…) but switching off the main breaker should stop that i.e. there shoud be no increase in kWh readings. Just make sure that there can be no unauthorised accesss to it!

Gosh you lot are knowledgeable and helpful!

At least you can tell, with a bill that size, that your house isn’t being used for illicit skunk growing etc. which is a relief :blush:

Absolutely, always look on the brights side!

The signs though are normally pretty obvious:

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Until a couple of days ago, we had the heures creuse/heure plein option with EDF and made every effort to use HC (off-peak) as much as possible.
However after modelling our consumption over a 2 year period, I’ve found that our charges are slightly higher than if we had used the standard ‘base’ package.
I’ve just switched from EDF to MINT, and when that is complete I’ll change from the HC/HP package to a standard base one. As well as cutting costs, it will also give us a lot more flexibility.

BTW, if you have a 18kVa supply, then you probably also have a 3-phase supply.
The implications are that it may NOT be a simple matter to reduce your supply.
You will need to determine the potential maximum load on each phase before downgrading.