How can I use my French chèque énergie gas or electricity vouchers?

This year’s vouchers began to be sent out last month and here we look at what you can do with them

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Reader question: My energy voucher arrived recently, but I do not want to use it on my summer bills because they are lower than in winter. Can I save it until winter, or can I use it for something else?

Since the end of April, 2023’s round of chèques énergie (energy vouchers) have been sent out to almost six million people in France.

The vouchers, sent to modest-income households, have a value of up to €277 and can be used for a number of things, although most people use them to pay energy bills.

The vouchers have an expiry date of March 31 of the following year, so 2023’s vouchers can be used up to March 31, 2024.

You do not have to use them as soon as they arrive, and you can save them to use at a later date before the deadline.

Be careful, however, as the vouchers come as a physical paper voucher, and can be easily lost or damaged.

If this is the case, you can ask to replace them with a new one – additionally, you usually have an extra month after the deadline to apply for damaged, lost or stolen unused vouchers to be exchanged for a new one.

How do I pay my bills with the voucher?

There are two ways to pay bills with the voucher.

You can send the voucher to your energy supplier, along with a copy of a recent bill you wish to pay for.

Alternatively, you can use the number and scratch code found on your voucher, plus your customer reference number with your energy supplier and submit the cheque via the official site.

They can be used towards your bills for electricity and natural gas.

If the voucher covers more than the latest bill, the surplus is automatically deducted from future bills, so you do not lose out on any of the voucher’s value.

You cannot divide the bill into multiple payments. If you use it to cover one type of bill, all the money from the voucher goes towards that.

You can also use the bills to pay for fuel oil, wood or LPG if you use this to provide energy to your home.

In this instance, however, you will not receive change from the payment if the amount you buy costs less than the amount on your voucher.

Currently, there are one-off energy vouchers for those who heat their homes via fuel oil and wood, but these are set to be phased out by the end of the year, and the deadline to apply for wood energy vouchers is May 31.

Read more: Date outlined for when France will end price freezes on energy bills

Can I use it for anything else?

It is also possible to use the voucher to pay for eco-friendly renovations, although in this case, it will probably only cover a part of the costs.

Renovations to be paid for by an energy voucher must be completed by a tradesperson who is Reconnu garant de l’environnement (REG) certified.

Only certain work may be done using the voucher – you can find a full list of what work is covered using the official chèque énergiewebsite.

If the work is being carried out before the end of the validity date shown on the voucher, you can use it to pay the firm doing the renovations by giving them the voucher.

You can also ask for the cheque to be exchanged for a later version, for work you plan to do within the next two years.

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