Energy consumption

In one month we will have owned the Breton house 5 years - time flies as they say :slight_smile:

I have just had occasion to read the meter and transmit the result to EDF which gives me some pause for reflection on our energy use.

When we bought the place we had the supply upgraded and so a new meter was installed starting at “0”; the current reading is as near as makes no difference 15000kWh or 3000kWh per year. That is for everything - heating, lighting, cooking and entertainment.

That actually seems quite a lot to me - given that we are only here maybe 7 weeks of the year max.

The average use in the UK for “medium” usage (irritatingly without qualification) is 12,000kWh of gas and a further 3100kWh for electricity.

Selectra has some distinctly questionable figures of nearly 27,000kWh for electricity for a 180m2 house and maybe another 20,000kWh for gas - perhaps, as they are averages, these should be added together. There again as a lot of houses in France do not have gas, maybe not (oops, I just actually read the notes - gas figures are for homes with gas heating/HW so not to be added to the 27,000kWh but to some, unspecified, lower figure).

Any other 2nd home owners have figures they are willing to share - we’re 150m2 (officially but i think the estate agent got it wrong and we’re a bit bigger), 4 bed, 60cm stone walls with internal 50mm polystyrene (plaque double) insulation and pretty open plan, oh and double glazing.

I’m aware we’ve discussed this before but could not find a good thread to append a new post.

On the edf site is a bit where you can do comparisons - e-energie I think. But would love to know how your transmit a meter reading to EDF as I spend ages last week looking for how to do that as our recent bill was a serious underestimate.

I can check tomorrow as our gîte is all electric, 140m2, stone walls etc etc, and rented 24 weeks a year and we keep track of usage. But my gut tells me that 3000kwh is fairly high for 7 weeks.

We bought our house in Burgundy & sort of moved in straight away just before New Year 2010. House +/- 170 m² living space, 70cm stone walls except one which is 10cm 9 hollow brick the only insulation was twixt the ceilings & floors (+/- 1ft of compact sawdust) I’ve added a bit more here & there during renovations. Was on 3 phase 6Kw so 10A per phase (not good & a nightmare). I’ve rewired since.
In April 2011 had the meter changed & since on mono 6kW 32A. Since we’ve lived here nearly every weekend all our hols since & for the last 5 yrs Mrs Wozza & I both can & mostly work from home so have lived here nearly permanently for the last 5 yrs.
Electric items:
Kettle & coffee machine
Cooker bottled gas & electric oven (often used)
150L water heater
2 freezers though 1 is a large fridge freezer.
House & out building lighting
washing machine
dehumidifier in the cellar
Tv 55" radios, computers & 3 27" screens internet live box, small items etc.
vacuum cleaner & power tools
Oil burner & pump
Just checked the meter 9557 kWh since April 2011.
Oil p/yr 1000 - 1400L
Wood 10 steres = 375 - 400 € p/yr.
It seems that you’re using a lot of electricity…

That is cheap wood!

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I live in a national park & a lot is woodland, I could have it even cheaper still if I didn’t ask for an invoice.
I have family just outside of Nimes & they pay 90€ & stere.

Hi Paul,
At an average of 430 kWh per week I can see how you could easily consume that amount with a stone walled, all electric property that you visit in the winter months. Highly relevant factors will of course be which 7 weeks of the year it is that you are in residency, as well as the number of people using hot water, and the number of rooms being heated.
A 2KW water heater running for say 4 hrs per day will be 56kWh per week, and then one has to add in the extra 6kWh that will be consumed for the initial heating from cold.
With just a 2KW heater in each of 3 rooms running for say 6hrs per day in total as the thermostats click on and off, then that will come to around 250 kWh per week.
Bringing a cold house up to temperature on arriving in the winter or spring is likely to consume an additional 70 kWh.
Assuming a use of 1 hr per day for a 2KW oven, plus 2 x 1.5 KW hot plates or rings for 1hr daily would come to another 35kWh per week.
So all that lot comes to 417kWh for a ‘cold house arrival’ week, and 341kWh per week thereafter.
There would also be the additional consumption of lighting, fridge, freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher etc that all added in could easily bring you up to the 430kWh per week average.

We too have stone walls with interior insulation, and when we leave the house for a period of time in winter, I find that it is actually cheaper to leave some base line heating in operation on the cheap night time tariff than to have to run the heating full blast for 3 days upon our return in order to bring the fabric of the building and its contents up to a reasonable temperature.
Having the cheap night rate also allows considerable savings by running the water heater and other major appliances only at night.
French day time electricity is very expensive for heating, so you may wish to consider adding a wood burning stove, or bringing a couple of second hand night storage heaters for off peak use from the UK.

Fascinating to read about electricity usage. As I’m always looking for ways to trim my budget… I shall be investigating our own usage more closely…

I agree with Robert - heating a stone house from “stone-cold” in winter takes a lot of energy. This would certainly throw the figures off kilter - against what would become normal when using the house on a more permanent basis.

What do you leave “running” when the house is empty?? fridges perhaps ???

If you are unsure of your meter… do you read it at the end of your stay and then again when you return ???

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3000/50 is 60kWh a week, averaged out equivalent to 350W continuously.

Pretty spread out - on average 6-8 weeks between visits but the longer visits are in the summer - “ramping up” the heating & water (200l, I think in the HW tank) when we arrive during the colder periods is one inefficiency (as you note), as is leaving the heating on (thermostat set at about 11°) through Jan & Feb.

Sadly neither practical.

True, but

So, just shy of 1200kWh per year - pretty good, however

you need to add 10,000-14,000kWh for that heating oil and

20,000kWh for your 10m3 (say, 8 tonnes) of wood

So, 31-35kWh per year (let’s call it 33), plus gas for the hob.

In theory the heat pump should mean less electricity kWh going in than heat kWh coming out so I should be lower than 7/52 of your usage - which is 4.44kWh so perhaps I’m not using as much as it appears, compared to your place.

The ventilation pumps and the heating system (but set to “frost protect” which means it will run the circulating pumps occasionally if the temp outside is less than 10° to circulate “warm” water through the outside heat exchanger). Everything else firmly off.

You go into your “espace” - but there are set times when you can record the meter reading (a short while before the bill is due).

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We have recently added separate timers for the hot water (1hr per day), towel radiators (8hrs/day on low) and electric radiators ((10hrs/day on 16 degrees).

I hope via this that our consumption will decrease. The radiators used to run on max for a couple of hours but running them for longer on low seems to give a better temperature.

The hot water (200 litre tank) always seemed to be too hot if it runs for more than 1 hour per day - I think temp set too hot on thermostat. The timer allows you to give 1 hour boost to the water if temp is too low which happens perhaps once a month.

We have also found running a dehumidifier makes the house seem warmer - when this was a holiday home we used to leave it running on the kitchen drainer when we were away with a pipe draining to the sink.

3953 is our total usage for fulltime during the last 12 months… and is on a par with other years.

Equipment using electricity includes:
3 freezers
2 fridges
Extractor fan
Washing machine
Portable heaters (rarely used as they eat electricity)
Computer/TV/audio etc
Timer and Pump for oil boiler (hot water and rads)

how does this compare ?? I am looking at reducing if I can.

The fridges and freezers would be the first thing to look at - are they modern energy efficient ones?

For the freezers going to 2 larger freezers (if possible) might be more efficient (but beware of capital costs!!).

We brought appliances over with us, but have been replacing gradually.

The freezers are within 10 years… and we would have bought A+ at that time… but I’m going to have a good sort out and see if we can reduce to just 2 freezers.

Our gites each use about 60 kw/week in the summer, normal running costs - hot water, lights, kettle etc (when no heating is needed or used). Our usage is horrendous in the summer running the pool and Jacuzzi .

A+ (surprisingly difficult to come up with the figure) freezer seems to be 300-360kWh/year so the three freezers could be up to 1/3 of your usage.

Switching from 3 A+ rated to 2 A+++ rated could save 600kWh per year - maybe 100€ so it might make sense in terms of energy saved but not financially (also, I don’t know how much energy it takes to make a freezer which needs to be factored in if your motivation is saving the planet).

Second that - I’ve started running a couple when we arrive and it cuts down the time the house takes to “feel” warm from 24 to about 10 hours.

Definitely going to cut out a freezer. I’m on the warpath against energy costs… :grin: :woozy_face: :wink:

I can see how the structure of the building may not be suited to a wood burning stove but surely a way could be found to transport a couple of second hand night storage heaters. I realise they are heavy, but perhaps you could use a trailer or borrow / rent a van, or even have them brought over by one of the ‘man and van’ fellas.

By the way — I was dividing your average annual consumption of 3000 kWh by the 7 weeks of occupancy in order to arrive at the figure of 430 kWh per week.

A frost watch setting of 11 deg C is pretty high. Turning the thermostat down to 5 deg C (41 deg F) would save quite a lot of electricity and should be perfectly adequate for the purpose.

If your property is not detached, then you might wish to check that there is nothing in your neighbour’s house that is running from your meter. When we first came here we discovered that the well pump, and half the ground floor lights of the house next door were in fact running from our electricity supply.


OK, not sure that’s the best way to do it - but then dividing by 52 probably isn’t either.

It’s not just transport but wiring them in - and, we’re not quite there yet but, post Brexit - legality.


Thankfully we’re detached, I’ve checked most of the wiring to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere “strange” and, if I turn everything off, usage shown by the meter drops to 0.

The internal temp probably does not make a huge amount of difference - the system makes decisions about how hard it needs to “work” based on the outside temp and the internal setting only partially overrides that - the main energy use will be keeping 500l of water warm (200l in the HW tank and 300l in the buffer tank) - I can’t run the system with heat but no HW (and, in any case, having warm water in the system to defrost the heat exchanger is the point of leaving it on).

Going from 3 to 2 would seem to be a good move and incur no outlay. Three freezers does seem a bit excessive :slight_smile:

I contacted a friend who lives in a stone house in western France who records his bi-monthly electricity data on an App called meters. He’s shown me the graphs that this creates and I hoped that he would be able to give comparisons between when they used the property as a holiday home and now they live here full time. Unfortunately he has only kept the records since moving in full time.
He lives in a four bedroom house with a footprint of about 100m2. It is an electric house with one woodburner in the lounge for the winter. His hot water runs 24/7, all his cooking is electric and he runs two electric heaters in the kitchen from November-May with a thermostat setting that keeps the room temperature at @ 16° - 17°. The heaters go on standby in the afternoon and overnight. They provide background heat for the kitchen and master bedroom above and there is a connecting door into the lounge. He runs a petrole heater for about 30 minutes or so most winter mornings to boost the room temp. He uses a woodburner in the lounge.
They use an average of just over 10500 kWh of electricity a year.
The point he made was that he discovered a huge difference between when he used the house as a holiday home and since it became a permanent home. Before the family would spend Christmas there and another week or 10 days in February plus Easter and a longer holiday in the summer. He told me that when they arrived to the cold house in the winter they had to pour heat into it to bring it up to a comfortable temperature using electric radiators and the woodburner. The daily electricity consumption was astronomic. Living in the house is completely different, he starts heating the house in October or November to maintain the core temperature. Typically by December they need to light the woodburner in the afternoon or early evening to support the electric heating. The house is always comfortable except for when they leave it for two days or so when the lounge and bedrooms above get cold and the temperature have to be brought up again. Since living there full time he has not had to use any electric heating in the lounge whereas before they usually had an electric radiator on in the room to supplement the woodburner.
The point that he was making was that it was far easier and cheaper on a daily basis to maintain a comfortable heat in the house living thee full time. He was not surprised by you electricity consumption if you visit during the winter. Being a retired seafarer he likened his house to a supertanker; when it was a holiday home he felt that he was always using a lot of energy to get it up to speed, these days he uses comparatively less to maintain its momentum.