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

The energy-saving measure will be felt by those who use a lot of hot water in the early afternoon 

Certain Enedis clients may have the electricity to their hot water heaters cut temporarily during the day this winter to reduce the risk of power cuts Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

A recent decree means that French energy company Enedis has the right to temporarily cut electricity supply to the hot water tanks of around 4.3 million of its clients as part of its energy-saving measures. 

This ruling, published September 27 in the Journal officiel, 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, for a maximum of two hours, between 11:00 and 15:30. 

This could save up to 3.5 gigawatts per day over the relevant time period, equivalent to the output of three and a half nuclear reactors.

This will most likely be done between 12:00 and 14:00 as this is considered a peak time for electricity consumption. 

Enedis claims this measure concerns 4.3 million clients while consumer group UFC-Que Choisir states it is over five million. 

Any customer affected will be warned at least one week in advance. This is expected to be done by email, text message or both.

This temporary cut is unlikely to be noticed by the vast majority of Enedis’ affected clients, unless they intend to use a large amount of hot water in this two-hour period. 

Cold water is pumped into hot water heaters that are connected to a power supply. The water is heated in the tank and is then distributed to the household when someone turns on a tap. 

If the electricity is cut, there will still be a reserve of hot water sitting in the tank ready to be used. For anyone affected, it is probably best to avoid a bubble bath at this time, but otherwise they probably will not notice the effects of the electricity being cut. 

This system could remain in place until the middle of April or May at the latest, the decree states. 

Read more: French energy firms offer up to €120 discount to those who cut usage

Read more: French residents save thousands on electricity by returning to EDF

Electricity cuts this winter

France is at risk of electricity shortages this winter due to a combination of factors, including the war in Ukraine and the fact that over half of the country’s nuclear reactors are currently offline. 

Read more: Winter power cuts: What risk in France and why an app can help

Twelve of the country’s 56 reactors have been offline for several years due to corrosion issues, while others are currently undergoing maintenance. 

France gets 70% of its electricity from nuclear power.

President Emmanuel Macron warned in a speech on July 14 this year of the need to reduce energy consumption. The government is working on new energy saving measures that it is calling a plan de sobriété and which it should announce this Thursday (October 6). 

The prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, has said that households will not be hit by gas cuts – another issue caused mostly by tensions with major supplier Russia – but the same is not guaranteed for electricity. 

Read more: French TV news gives weather report-style electricity usage updates

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