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ENERGY

How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?

Like almost everything else in Switzerland, the price of electricity is high here. These are some strategies for reducing your energy costs.

There are several strategies to lower energy costs in Switzerland.
Installing solar panels on the roof could save on energy costs in the long term, but there are other ways as well to reduce bills. Photo by Vivint Solar from Pexels

If you are a tenant, your energy consumption costs may be included in your rent. But if you are a home or apartment owner, you have to pay these charges yourself. And they can be quite expensive.

Depending on the kind and size of dwelling you live in, your energy bills could add up to several thousand francs each year.

And winters in Switzerland can get quite cold, with temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees in some parts of the country on certain years.

READ MORE: Switzerland weather: Snow and rain forecast in various regions

So unless you are lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace which radiates heat throughout your house, sitting under the blanket and drinking hot cocoa may not be enough to keep you warm on those chilly winter days — though it does sound very cosy.

Most people will probably crank up their heat, and as many Swiss households use electric power for heat, that may get quite expensive.

In fact, a household in Switzerland spends on average between a half and full monthly salary on its energy consumption each year, according to a price comparison site bonus.ch.

However, “with small, simple actions to perform on a daily basis, it is possible to reduce energy consumption and save money, without sacrificing comfort”.Bonus.ch said.

Here are some common-sense energy-saving measures the site outlines to keep electricity bills down: 

  • Use heat in moderation, setting the temperature according to the size of the room and how often it is being used. Unoccupied rooms should not be heated at all.
  • Turn off the light when leaving a room (this advice is logical and reasonable, and yet many people neglect to do so).
  • Shut down electrical appliances such as TV and computers completely when not in use,  or even unplug them altogether.
  • Use appliances with the energy label “A”, LED lamps and energy-saving bulbs, avoiding devices with high energy consumption, such as aquariums and fan heaters.
  • In terms of water consumption, typically a resident of Switzerland uses a little more than 160 litres of water daily, of which around one-third is hot, according to bonus.ch.

To reduce hot water consumption, take (quick) showers rather than baths, use water-saving shower heads, and keep its temperature at no more than 50 degrees Celsius.

What about solar panels?

Solar panels are expensive upfront; the actual cost is determined by the size of your house and roof, as well as subsidies you can get from the government. However, it is likely to save you money in the long term.

Just how much will depend on several factors, including how large / small your house is and what your energy needs and consumption are.

You can see whether this option would be economically beneficial to you by using a calculator on this platform for homeowners in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Cost of living: The most – and least – expensive cantons in Switzerland

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ENERGY

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

Due to soaring prices, the Norwegian government is mulling over several solutions, including a potential price cap for electricity and limiting energy exports abroad. 

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

High energy exports in the last 12 months, low filling levels in Norwegian reservoirs and an uncertain energy situation around Europe have led to soaring electricity prices in southern Norway. 

Last year the government introduced a scheme whereby it covers 80 percent of consumers’ energy bills where the price rose above 70 øre/kWh. The portion of the bill under 70 øre is paid in full by households. The portion the government covers will increase to 90 percent in October. 

Critics have argued that the current scheme still leaves households struggling with their bills. As a result, Norway’s government has said it is mulling its options to curb energy bills.

Norway primarily depends on hydroelectric dams to help it meet its energy needs. Still, reservoirs in southern Norway have been at the lowest level for ten years, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

Low reservoir filling over the past year has conceded with record exports with higher prices on the continent, making sending power abroad an enticing proposition.

Recently, exports have fallen significantly, and the government is considering introducing a limit to reduce the possibility of energy rationing being introduced this winter. 

“Restrictions on the export of electricity to Europe may be one of the measures that is needed,” Elisabeth Sæther, state secretary at the Ministry of Oil and Energy, told NRK. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre ruled out completely shutting off exports to the continent. 

“It is a dangerous thought and will not serve us well. It could give us more expensive power and lack of power in given situations. We will hardly be able to import power when we need it without contributing to other countries when they need it. There is a reciprocity in this,” he told the newspaper Aftenposten earlier in the week. 

Sæther also told NRK that the government was weighing up putting a maximum price on energy but warned that it could have unforeseen consequences. 

“We are afraid that a maximum price means that more water is drawn into the reservoirs, which we need for the winter. It is a serious situation. We must prevent ourselves from getting into a situation where we lack enough power this winter,” she told the broadcaster. 

At the end of May, the state-owned Statnett announced that the supply situation in Norway might be under strain – in some scenarios – all the way up to and through the winter, especially if Southern Norway experiences drier than usual weather in the second part of the year. 

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