Help from the French government gets a warm welcome this winter

Sometimes help can come from unexpected sources.  As well as the 194 euro ‘cheque énergie’ that the French government sent to every eligible taxpayer back in April, it has now put out a leaflet with suggestions on how to economise on power bills in what is likely to be a difficult winter ahead.

True, some of the suggestions are common sense and things we should all be doing anyway, but when they are all put together they can definitely help us reduce the amount we spend on energy bills as well as being better for the planet.
So as the memory of the summer’s stifling heat turns to surprisingly chilly nights, here is what you can do around the house to help keep costs down.

1. Purge your radiators.
Evacuating the air in radiators that haven’t been used for a while makes them more efficient.
2. Turn off the standby switches on all your electrical equipment.
It’s hard to believe but keeping everything off standby when you’re not using it can account for up to 10% of your electricity bill!
3. Don’t overheat your house.
It’s hard to get an ambient temperature exactly right. The recommended temperature for comfort as well as economy is 20 degrees for living areas, and 17 degrees for bedrooms and unoccupied spaces.
 4. Install a mixer on your taps.
This simple gesture can save 30-50% of the water you use by helping you reach the correct combination temperature quickly, with far less water wasted. It’s also safer to use and has the extra benefit of being quite stylish!
5. Install LED light bulbs.
LED bulbs have many advantages. As well as using far less electricity and lasting much longer than ordinary lightbulbs, they give out no heat or UV emissions. They are also able to withstand cold conditions and can tolerate frequent switching on and off. So while it feels like a hefty outlay per bulb, they work out much cheaper in the long run.

6. De-ice your fridge and freezer regularly.
 This is one of those household jobs that always fall to the bottom of the list, but for maximum efficiency both fridge and freezer should be de-iced regularly – long before the freezer compartment won’t shut because of ice build-up!
7. Make sure your fridge is installed away from heat sources such as the oven or dishwasher.
8. Set your water heater to between 55-60 degrees.
9. Wash laundry at 30 degrees to use three times less energy than washing at 90 degrees.
10. Take a shower instead of a bath to save up to 150 euros per year per person.

As well as everyday tips, the French government has a generous approach to grants for ecological home improvements, which includes more efficient heating, insulation and ventilation.  The good news that these grants are not limited to French nationals. If you are a homeowner, tax payer and holder of a carte de séjour, you may qualify.
With the slogan ‘Better for my home. Better for my planet’, MaPrimeRenov is a government body that actively encourages people to upgrade their homes to reduce energy consumption. Its goal is to help people move towards renewable energy sources and reduce the country’s dependence on gas and fuel, which in turn affects global warming. In a practical sense, improvements will have an immediate effect on the size of your energy bills, but the government recognises that improvements such as installing a wood-burning stove or hot air conductors are costly. The amount of aid the government provides depends on several factors: whether you are the owner-occupier, owner-landlord or co-proprietor, your annual revenue (based on your tax return), and the size and age of your property. An anonymous online calculator on the site www.maprimerenov.gouv.fr will help you work out how much you could expect to receive.

Financial aid and low-interest loans are also available for rental tenants, as well as rules that allow you to carry out small energy-saving improvements such as repairing draughty window joints and better ventilation.
It’s not just homes that are targeted in the government’s energy-saving initiatives. There are also grants for buying or leasing electric vehicles, which can be either new or second hand.  Grants for new hybrid vehicles are also available. Conversion bonuses are offered if you are willing to scrap your old car in favour of a less polluting model. With petrol and diesel prices likely to continue to rise, that could be a significant saving.
That brings us to French Connections HCB.
If you need help with applying for a government grant or finding out if you are eligible for one, you may want to consider our new French Assistance service. For a low 89 euros per month, you can call or email to ask for our help with everyday admin such as appointment making, email correspondence, calls to make arrangements, bookings or talk through queries with suppliers, as many times as you want. Our friendly and efficient team will sort it out quickly and efficiently. No problem is too niggly for us!
To learn more, simply click here. And don’t worry, you can cancel your subscription any time after the first month.

Here’s to a warm, cosy and cost-efficient winter!

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