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'Automatic water heater switch-off could save France from blackouts'

Energy company Enedis has been preventing heaters from triggering between 12:00 and 14:00 to save energy and says it is a success

French energy company Enedis has said that preventing heaters from triggering between midday at 14:00 in the water tanks of millions of its clients will help to avoid blackouts this winter Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

French energy company Enedis has said that preventing heaters from triggering between midday and 14:00 in the water tanks of millions of its clients will help to avoid blackouts this winter. 

A recent decree means that Enedis has the right to temporarily cut electricity supply to the water tanks heaters of around 4.3 million of its clients as part of its energy-saving measures, and it has been using this right throughout the month of October.

Read more: Enedis’ right to turn off water heaters in France: Are you affected?

Read more: Enedis’ energy-saving water heater plan: five questions and answers

The temporary measure concerns those who have a Linky meter and have a peak/off-peak contract, called a contrat heures pleines/heures creuses

Enedis will be able to suspend the power supply to water heaters remotely, using a switching device accessed through the Linky meter to prevent them from triggering, for a maximum of two hours, between 11:00 and 15:30.

The company has said that this is being done between 12:00 and 14:00 as this is considered a peak time for electricity consumption. 

It has now stated that this measure has already cut overall consumption by 2.4 gigawatts the same amount as if 2.4 million people stopped using electricity over the same period. 

“This is slightly more than the consumption of Paris, which is considerable,” the company’s operations manager Thierry Sudret has said, adding that the scheme has been a “huge success” and could make the difference needed to prevent power cuts this winter. 

Customers affected by the measure still have hot water between 12:00 and 14:00, as their water tanks are heated for six hours during the off-peak nighttime period, so unless they have a long shower or bath at this time, they should not have noticed any difference. 

Many people were worried about the temporary water heater power cuts when they were announced, but Mr Sudret said that: “this measure is nearly painless for individuals and business owners,” despite being “very effective” at saving energy.

In addition, if a person does run out of hot water around midday, they can manually turn the heater back on.

Mr Sudret added that Enedis has not received any complaints since the initiative began. 

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