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11 ways to cut costs as Spain’s electricity rates beat all-time price records

War in Ukraine has pushed electricity prices in Spain to the highest rate on record - €544 per megawatt hour (MWh). Here are 11 ways to cut down on consumption and therefore your energy bills during this period of extreme market volatility.

11 ways to cut costs as Spain's electricity rates beat all-time price records
2021, people in Spain paid an average of €949 in electricity compared to €675 in 2020. Photo: DESIREE MARTIN/AFP

The price of electricity in Spain’s wholesale market has been set at €544.98 per megawatt hour for Tuesday March 8th 2022, a €100 rise in just 24 hours and an all-time record for Spain’s energy sector.

Between 7pm and 8pm on Tuesday, Spaniards will pay €700/MWh for electricity, truly outlandish rates.

A year ago, the average price per megawatt hour was just €45.44, although over the course of 2021 the price did first double and then quadruple that rate as the Covid-19 pandemic, inflation, adverse weather and a volatile natural gas market all formed the perfect storm for consumers.

And yet, those sky-high rates pale in comparison with what people in Spain now have to pay, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine proving to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The same is now happening in Germany, France and Italy (although not quite to the same extent as in Spain), increasing pressure on Brussels to find ways for the EU’s natural gas and electricity markets to not be so closely aligned.

To be clear, the record €544.98 megawatt hour (MWh) rate does not mean that every person’s monthly electricity bill in Spain is going to be in the thousands of euros (for interest’s sake, the average Spanish household consumes 0.0099 megawatt hour).

But you are likely to pay more. Over the course of 2021, people in Spain paid an average of €949 in electricity compared to €675 in 2020.

So the forecast under the current climate of war and global energy crises will mean your monthly bill could easily rise by €20 or €30, perhaps higher.

To help you counteract this spike in electricity rates in Spain, here are 11 tips that can help you reduce consumption and thus costs during this period of extreme market volatility.

Familiarise yourself with Spain’s cheaper electricity times

It’s become more expensive to use electricity in the first part of the day from 10am – 2pm and in the evenings from 6pm – 10pm from Monday to Friday. 

The average times are between 8am – 10am, 2pm – 6pm and 10pm – midnight. 

The cheapest times will be in the early mornings on weekdays and all day on Saturday, Sunday, as well as national holidays.

Adapt your contracted power to your real needs

Those on an estimated energy tariff could switch their contract to one that only charges them for the electricity they actually use and need. Free power changes are allowed until May 31st, 2022. This must be requested through your energy provider.

Check the maximum power and usage data

Check on your energy provider’s website to find out your consumption data and adjust your contracted electricity accordingly. Spain’s National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) suggests that this could save you up to €16 per year by doing this alone.

Avoid too much usage all at once

Using more than one appliance or electrical device at the same time pushes up consumption. For example, if you use the oven, the kettle and the washing machine at the same time, you will pay a lot more on your bill than if you use them separately. The CNMC has also said that “the iron is one of the devices with the highest consumption. Avoiding turning on all devices at the same time can lead to savings of between €200 and €300 per year”.

Shift consumption to periods outside peak hours

If possible, change the times when you use the most electricity. For contracted power during the cheapest times, the price is actually 95 percent lower than in the highest period.

Avoid stand-by mode on devices

Keeping televisions, laptops and other electronics and appliances plugged in and in stand-by mode whilst not being used does add up in the long run. 

If you unplug or switch off the current to these devices this can result in reducing your electricity bill by up to 10 percent annually. 

Use LED bulbs and remember to switch the lights off

LED bulbs use up to 80 percent less electricity than regular bulbs. Even though they are more expensive, they last 12 times longer on average. 

The average annual saving on people’s electricity bills when replacing normal bulbs with LED ones was €14 per bulb in 2018, before Spain’s electricity rates skyrocketed.

And although it may seem obvious, remembering to switch off lights and prioritising natural light in sunny Spain is a no-brainer if you want to cut costs.

Wash your clothes at less hot temperatures

As a basic rule, washing machine programmes running at low temperatures consume less than those running at higher temperatures. For example, washing clothes at 40°C instead of 60°C saves up to 55 percent consumption.

Use your fridge efficiently

As with the washing machine and dishwasher, it is possible  to reduce electricity consumption  through the refrigerator if you adjust its temperature to around 5°C and the freezer temperature to -18°C .

 In the case of the freezer, it’s also important to defrost it regularly, since the accumulation of ice can increase consumption by up to 30 percent.

Reduce your spending on heating

First, keep in mind that electric heating can be up to five times more expensive than gas heating in Spain.

Remember also for each degree you put the heating up, consumption will increase by 7 percent, so try to put on a jumper instead of keeping your heating above 20 °C.

Don’t overdo it with the air conditioning

This may be a big ask for those who live in parts of Spain that get extremely hot during the summer months, but there are few ways to cut costs of this high-consumption device. 

Buy an air con machine with an inverter system rather than one without as they’re 40 percent more efficient, install it in a place that doesn’t receive direct sunlight, use blinds and sunshades to help to keep your home cool during the hot hours of the day, and when temperatures drop in the evening switch off your air conditioning and air your home instead.

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For members


NEW LAWS: What changes about life in Spain in June 2023

New laws, tax deadlines, school holidays and cultural festivals, discover all about the important changes that will take place in Spain during June 2023.

NEW LAWS: What changes about life in Spain in June 2023

La Renta tax deadline

There are several important tax deadlines coming up in June for Spain’s annual income tax return known as ‘la declaración de la renta‘. This year you must present your earnings for 2022. The campaign began in April and ends on June 30th. From June 1st until June 30th, you can present your personal income tax return in person at the various Agencia Tributaria offices around the country. If you want to present them over the phone, the deadline is June 29th and if you want to pay by direct debit, it has to be done by June 27th. Click here to find out more and all the deadlines coming up this month. 

New road signs come into effect 

At the end of 2022, Spain’s Ministry of Transport and the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) revealed a new raft of road signs and redesigns, many of which will come into effect in June 2023. The new signs and redesigns of old ones are to be rolled out throughout 2023, but many of them can be expected to be seen on our streets and highways from June 1st, 2023. Click here to see the new signs and learn what they mean. 

New reproductive law for women comes into force

On June 1st the Organic Law 1/2023, of February 28th will come into force which includes the “introduction of the necessary modifications to guarantee the effective enforcement of women’s sexual and reproductive rights”.

This includes menstrual leave for those suffering from extreme pain during their periods, which could be from a number of medical conditions including endometriosis, polycystic ovaries or dysmenorrhoea, among many others. The amount of leave should not exceed three days, however, it can be extended up to five days if your doctor considers it necessary. 

READ ALSO: Women in Spain first in Europe to get ‘menstrual leave’

The law also covers temporary disability leave due to termination of pregnancy. Whether you’ve suffered a miscarriage or had an elective abortion for any reason, you will be allowed medical leave. The number of days will depend on what your doctor recommends. 

The third most important point the new law covers is temporary disability due to ongoing pregnancy. Your doctor may put you on bed rest during pregnancy or may advise you against doing certain types of physical labour, meaning that you need time off work. 

Telecommunications law comes into force

Getting spam calls from companies trying to sell you new products or gettin you to change providers seems to be commonplace in Spain, but this could all be about to change with a new telecommunications law coming into force on June 30th. 

Article 66.1b of the latest reform of the General Telecommunications Law states that in order to protect the legitimate interests of consumers and users, operators are prohibited from making unsolicited telephone calls for the purpose or effect of promoting or selling goods and services.

While you still may receive these types of calls from companies you’ve signed up for or for products you’ve agreed to hear about, the good news is the number of spam calls you receive is set to decrease. 

Corpus Christi celebrations take place 

The Corpus Christi festival commemorates the body of Christ and occurs nine weeks after Easter. It is celebrated very differently depending on where you are in the country. In the Catalan town of Sitges, Elche de la Sierra in Albacete, and some places in Tenerife, the locals make brightly-colored patterned carpets on the streets, made of either flower petals or sawdust. In Granada, they have elaborate processions and lots of festivities, while in Barcelona they decorate the city’s fountains with flowers and place an egg to ‘dance’ in the water. 

READ ALSO: Why you should visit Barcelona’s quirky egg dancing festival

egg dancing festival

Ou Com Balla festival in Barcelona. Photo: Esme Fox

School holidays begin

June marks the end of the 2022/2023 school year and the start of the summer holidays. Most schools across the country will break up for summer around June 20th to 23rd, but there are regional differences. For example, in Andalusia schools will end on June 22nd, while in Catalonia they will end on the 20th for secondary school and 22nd for primary and kindergarten age. In Valencia all schools will break up on June 21st and in Madrid it’s June 22nd. 

This gives kids a 10-12 week summer break before they return to school again, usually the second week of September. 

READ ALSO: What childcare options are available over the summer in Spain?

New proposal for electricity rates 

The Spanish government is confident that it will soon approve a proposal on the new methodology for calculating the regulated electricity tariff, most likely in June. The PVPC is the Voluntary Small Consumer Price, the system that the Spanish government uses to establish an hourly rate for electricity. The aim of the new proposal is to reduce the volatility of rates and abnormally high electricity bills experienced, especially in 2022.

Unpredictable weather to continue 

June marks the official arrival of summer in the northern hemisphere, but this year the weather has been very unpredictable with droughts across much of the country throughout winter and spring, and the hottest April on record. Conversely, May has seen a dip in temperatures and much more rain, including flash flooding in some parts of the country. 

According to forecasts, June will be somewhat rainier and colder than normal throughout much of mainland central Spain, with only the Canary Islands experiencing higher temperatures. The mercury in the coastal Mediterranean regions and northern Spain, however, is expected to stay around the same as normal. 

New rail passenger rights come into force

From June 7th, rail passengers will benefit from protection when travelling and booking tickets. Among the new rights that this regulation includes, is a new obligation for certain carriers to offer their rail services as direct tickets, which provides greater security for passengers against the loss of connections in the event of a delay.

Companies will also have to provide real-time information to travellers, while ticket providers will have to provide passengers with any information on disturbances and delays. They will also have to inform passengers whether the tickets they hold constitute a direct ticket or not, otherwise, the provider will be responsible for guaranteeing the rights of passengers in the event of a trip interruption.

Noche de San Juan

June sees much of Spain celebrating the Night of Sant Juan. Saint John’s Eve occurs on the night of June 23rd and sees Spaniards across the country celebrating with bonfires and fireworks. It marks St John the Baptist’s birth as well as one of the shortest nights of the year.

It is celebrated slightly differently depending on where you are in the country. In Galicia, Pagan traditions of scaring away evil mix with religious ones as bonfires are set up on the beaches. In Catalonia, towns and cities go all out to celebrate Sant Joan with firecrackers, fireworks, and traditional sweet coca bread. Finally, in Alicante Las Hogueras or Les Fogueres take place, similar to Valencia’s Las Fallas festival where lare papier-mâché sculputres are burnt. 

READ ALSO: Goats, horses and fire: the weird ways Spain celebrates San Juan

Music festivals in Barcelona

Some of Spain’s biggest music festivals are to take place in June, including Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and Sonar. Primavera will be on from May 29th until June 4th, while Sonar will be on from June 15th – 17th. 

Batalla del Vino

In the Riojan town Haro, locals celebrate the region’s wine heritage in a very unusual way, by having a giant wine fight and throwing the ruby red drink all over each other. It takes place on June 29th and during the event, everyone meets on a hillside outside the town dressed in white. By the time the fight is over, everyone’s clothes have turned to shades of red and purple.