Nearly 6 million households in France to get €100 energy bill bonus
French government reveals plans to help households offset price hikes by sending them a cheque in December. We explain which households will get this and how
The government looks set to help people pay their fuel bills. Pic: SpeedKingz / Shutterstock
Some 5.8 million lower-income households in France are to benefit from an extra €100 this winter.
Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected to officially announce the extra money today.
The money will be sent as a cheque in the post to households which currently receive an annual energy cheque, worth an average €150, per eligible household and is in addition to the usual payment.
The cheques are used to contribute to fuel bills or energy renovation work and eligibility is determined by income level.
The additional help is designed to help the households offset the rising price of energy. France has seen significant rises this year in energy prices in recent months, although it still has one of the lowest electricity prices in western Europe and is considerably cheaper than countries such as Spain, Germany and the UK.
"A given increase penalises the poorest households ten times more than the wealthiest households in terms of their purchasing power," said a source close to the prime minister.
Energy prices have increased significantly in recent months, mainly due to the post-Covid economic recovery.
Regulated gas prices rose every month in 2021, except for April. In September, they went up by 8%.
Eligible households will not have to do anything to claim the bonus, but can expect to receive it in the post in December.
Who can benefit from an energy cheque?
To benefit from the energy cheque, the annual tax reference income (RFR) of your household must be less than €10,800 per consumption unit (CU).
The CU is used to calculate your consumption, on the basis that one person represents 1 unit, the 2nd person 0.5 unit, and each additional person 0.3 units (halve the value for any minors who divide their time between two parents’ homes).
You also need to be registered for taxe d'habitation where you live, even if exempt from paying it.
Not eligible for the energy cheque? You can still bring down your bills
Group buying (achat groupé):
A group buying deal is a way to change providers to a market-rate offer, but at potentially an even lower cost than you would obtain if you go directly to the energy company as an individual.
It means that an intermediary negotiates with energy companies on behalf of a large number of potential customers with a view to obtaining an advantageous price - more on this here.
Switching to a competitor aside from EDF and Engie, which can offer tax free energy with up to 20% savings, can also reduce bills.
The best way to check if you can obtain a better deal than your current one is to use the comparison website offered by the energy regulator.
Cancelling an existing contract can be done online, giving a 14-number identification code visible on your energy bills.
Opting for a fixed price contract rather than regulated price contracts is one way to combat price hikes, as it allows customers to pay a fixed price for 1-3 years, avoiding monthly fluctuations.
Average energy costs in France compare well to rest of Europe
Energy provider website Selectra calculated that in 2019, the average annual electricity cost in France ranged from €858.64-€898.02, depending on the electricity provider and plan chosen.
This works out to an average monthly energy bill of about €79 per month.
In 2020, Selectra found that 7 out of 10 French people had an electricity contract with EDF and its Tarif Bleu, the regulated price.
Eurostat figures show that France has one of the lowest electricity prices in western Europe, costing on average €0.1765 per kWh in 2019.
This was 25% cheaper than the EU average (€0.2159 per kWh), compared to Spain or Germany where prices are respectively 46% and 79% higher than in France.
In the UK, energy market regulator Ofgem has calculated that the average dual fuel (gas and electricity) tariff as of April 2021 is £95 per month (€111), or £1,138 a year (€1,336).