Very Expensive Electric Bills

We have a large, old farmhouse but its got great thick walls, well insulated roof, double glazed, and we have two medium size solar panels connected by a small computer to the oil-fired central heating system. We reckon the solar panels cost us about Euros 7K to install and we are now only paying for half the oil bills we used to be, plus about 100 euros a month for electricity. I reckon the initial outlay of a solar panel system probably paid for itself after 5 years. So if you're planning on "staying put" for over 5 - 6 years its worthwhile looking at installing solar panels and a big, well-insulated hot water storage tank; linked to your exisiting central heating system.

I agree. We have a 6 bedroom house and we run a 2 bed gite which is full all through the summer, we have regular visits from various members of the family all year round, we run a swimming pool as well and we pay 120€ per month. But we do have solar panels for the hot water. So, perhaps that is why ours is low. But do get you counter checked, as I know of several people who have had problems with theirs and have had to have them replaced.

How many kwh do you have? this will bring up your bill - we are 9kw

My bills which are 2 months for each 25 July Euro91

1 June Euro153

16 March Euro252

10 Jan Euro135 We only only have electric power and a wood burning stove - we have a modern double glazed 3 bedroomed villa and we use the dishwasher and washing machine / tumble dryer only on cheap rate and we have a small 3m diameter pool with pump Jun to August.

I find your bills very expensive!! - my prices are the same for 2 months!

I have wondered if that's the case with ours. We have it set up down in our orchard, it used to be 2 fields away before this property was divided into 3 separate properties. Then one day we came home to find someone up the pole tinkering with the feed into our box - we've never worked out if they were edf people or some traveller neighbours.

We tried flicking our switch a while ago and everything stopped in the box, but haven't tried it lately.

We too had a problem four years ago with EDF. To cut a long story very short, our meter was incorrectly registered as being a communal one and we were paying for all the general lighting in the area!!! (Absolutely true). With the help of our neighbour, who is a judge (!) we were finally assigned the correct meter, but it took a one and a half phone call by our neighbour to convince EDF to come and check out the problem. We are now very pleased that, with our three bedroomed home, all electric, our monthly payment is 80 eros. However, we can access our account and, if the estimate or reading is incorrect we can, via the internet, enter our own reading in advance of the bill being prepared and so never have a problem with over estimate. Have you tried this, or requested this system to be set up??

It's probably a good idea to check on how many units you are using rather than trying to work out what you are paying compared to everyone else. You can do that on a daily/weekly basis. You might have a faulty or expensive-to-use appliance somewhere.

If you want to compare against a fairly "hefty" user, on the one meter we have a 7-bedroom hotel (with all the appliances that suggests), a swimming pool, one 4-bed house and one 2-bed house. Averaged out over the past two years we use 92 units/day. EDF currently remove 390 euros from the bank every month.

A pay monthly bill, should be 10% of your yearly consumption, payable for 10 months ...
month 11 and 12 are used for ajustments ...

I'm told swimming pool pumps use a lot - do you know your real yearly use yet, or are they just estimating ?

I don't understand how EDF calculate their bills but yours (and several others) seem rather high. We have a four-bedroom house, just two of us all year round but we run chambre d'hotes meaning the washing machine and tumble dryer see high useage especially in summer. We were paying 78 euros a month (i.e. 780 / year) but just had a meter reading and a subsequent 108 euro rebate and they've now readjusted our monhtly payments to 65 euros a month (i.e. 650 / year) - even though we actually used 672 euros worth in the last year if you do the maths! So I am anticipating owing them money next September when they read the meter. Mind you, we don't have a swimming pool, use an oil-fired boiler for water (and occassionally heating) and a log-burner (our main source of heat in winter).

Hello Louise, Firstly I can totally understand your frustration. The first thing to realise as with taxes and other bills in France, you normally pay first and then any money owed is eventually paid back. What I did for myself and my parents living in France, was to set up an online account with EDF- espace client/ cancel my direct debit- make sure you call EDF to cancel the DB- the English line isnt that bad and I have eventually got through) and send a signed cancellation notice your bank as well. and set up the Service Relevé Confiance EDF- see link below: you must cancel your monthly db first to have access to this service. Then its great ! you will receive and email, i think every 3 months (?) and you simply imput the reading- you will then receive an accurate bill by post and we pay by cheque. Its good in that you have regained control over your account and what they take out and at the same time you arent in credit with them and have more money in your pocket.

Let me know how you get on.

It sounds right to me. We pay 124 Euros a month for a 2 bed with just electric heating. It also depends on how war, you like your house. I like mine very warm anf when visiting friends often think their house is cold; so its difficult to compare one against another.

Perhaps one relevant point might be how well insulated is the house? This can make a huge difference to the bills. Stone walls may look pretty but they draw the heat out of the house in the winter months.

I pay per bill most of which are estimated and some of which are read by edf. Following a visit to repair my counter in March, I received a 940 euro bill, extra to the usual bills. Apparently my counter had been returning 0 for 2 months yet I was still charged for estimated use plus this enormous bill. We have a 70's built, so poor insulation, farmhouse of 160m2. There's just the 2 of us and we don't heat unused rooms, and unless very cold don't heat the sleeping area at all.

Like you, I fail to see how we can use this amount of power! I did speak a few times with edf, they were very concerned but insisted their bills were correct and that somehow we'd managed to 'leave something on' for a few months.

So I had to pay up, but not at all happy. Thanks to Dave for supplying links for alternative providers - has anyone tried this yet?

And thanks Helen for the English speaking phone line. I too worry about my understanding ability on the phone, especially when some people have strong accents, but I found the guy I spoke with spoke clearly and concisely, explaining everything I was unsure of.

I had this, 3 bedroom house, only electric was water heater for 2 hours a day, computer, TV, lights and electric oven and they were charging me 120 euros a month, even when I tried to limit the electric consumption the bill still went up. In the end I called EDF on the English speaking helpline and they were very helpful, I actually had my tariff changed to the heures creuses tariff so I try and use all my appliances at night when the electricity is cheaper. Last year they had me down as using 6000 units, but when they changed the tariff over they changed my meter and this year we are now in October so I have been on the new tariff and new meter for 10 months and I have used just over 3000 units, doing exactly the same as I was before. So it's probably worth getting your meter checked or replaced because I am now convinced that I had a faulty meter.

EDF read my bill twice a year so my bills are based on actual consumption.


That does sound expensive, are you reading your meter to check the consumption? We have a 5 bedroom house and have been here for 14 months. Our total bill for aug 2011 to sept 2012 was 1260 euros we have no other form of heating Or energy. I have recently read my meter for sept to October which came to 65 euros inc taxes etc


Hi Louise

05 62 16 49 08 - English helpline. You just have to be patient, and if they tell you they are not available just try again.

I would ask for the "le Service Relevé Confiance" - they will send you an email to read your meter/s every 2 months and you get a usage-based bill. We have gas and electricity so the electricity bills are much lower for us, but in our last flat it was a lot more expensive with electricity for heating.



Totally agree with Maggie on this. I've only been here a year and for the first year paid 60 euros a month. When the meter was read last month by them (EDF) they paid a 250 euro rebate and adjusted the monthly payment down to 35 euros. So it's based on consumption. By the way....the cost of a unit (KWH) is as far as I can see, is far cheaper here than in the UK.

fyi the english speaking helpline for EDF is

05 62 16 49 08

call them ! they've been helpful when i've called...

Louise I would start to read your own meter and see how many units you are actually using. I have a 2 bed house with partial reverse aircon heating now in 4 rooms my leccy bills are about 500 euros a year. I use LED lighting wherever I can and turn off everything I remember too.

Energy is expensive and going to get MUCH more expensive. However as with petrol or booze much of the cost is taxation. I have a small cottage which was used for guests and family only and this year EDF put my standing order up to 80 euros a month which was stupid as last year it was only occupied for two weeks. It prompted me to let the property permanently which I have done. The social security pay the rent but they will get most of it back as I will be taxed over 35% on the income. On my main house which is a much larger affair, old with granite walls and less than brilliant insulation my electric bills are over 3000 per annum. I spent more than 10000 euros on extra insulation and I expect my bills not to go up but stagnate for a year or two then go up. Unless you live in a small house with small double glazed windows, with well insulated floors, walls and roofs then your bills are going to go up. That's one reason why French people generally build new small boxy houses whilst fossils like me have fulfilled a dream of living in houses we fantasised about when we were younger. However I am not miserable about it! I put another sweater on and am now so old I wear cardigans!

You can compare the different suppliers on

There is an English speaking help line but it is notoriously hard to get through.

English speaking email address-