Utility Costs in Spain 101: Electricity, Gas and Water Supply Explained

How much do you need to pay for gas, electricity and water - compare utility costs in Spain. Prices and regulations for energy by different suppliers. Solar Energy in Spain. Cost and quality of water in Spain. Paying your monthly bills: the average price and how to pay. Comparison of utility bills in Spain an UK.

Intro

For our readers who have already bought property in Spain, and want to settle into their new place as soon as possible, we have prepared an article in which we answer some frequently asked questions of the "Spaniard-beginners". Let's go!

1. Utility Costs in Spain

Electricity in Spain is not cheap. Every year, from December to March and July to September, the wallets of Spanish citizens are put to the test. Due to the lack of a central heating system in Spain, each family has to heat their homes as they can.

Diesel, gas and alternative sources (solar panels, wind turbines) are in use, but the vast majority of Spanish houses are heated by electricity with the help of electric heaters and air conditioners. Hot water in homes is also obtained using electric water heaters (gas is less popular), and electric or induction stoves are used over gas stoves for cooking.
Before moving in, we suggest connecting the water and lights, or rather, resume the supply. After the sale, the previous owner removes all obligations, and in such a situation, the supply of energy and water is stopped. If you buy a house through a real estate agency, they will also offer you help on this matter. However, for intermediary services you can expect to pay something like €50-100. In fact, connecting the water and lights is quite simple, even if you do not speak Spanish.

Suppliers of public services (utilities) in Spain are both large companies operating at the national level and small regional firms. By utilities, we mean the payment of water (cold, because there is no centralised hot water system), electricity and gas. The price of utilities in Spain can vary significantly not only from region to region, but in neighbouring municipalities as well. This happens, for example, with water bills.

2. Energy Supply and Costs in Spain

Electricity in Spain is supplied by the monopolist company Iberdrola. There are also several regional companies that create the image of free competition, but in reality, they do not offer drastically different tariffs. We will compare the electricity rates of several Spanish companies later on in this section.

We advise you to choose the company whose office is present in your city. Many electricity suppliers have a large selection of tariffs adapted to different needs, such as stable electricity consumption, which is reduced in terms of price at certain times of the day or on weekends, etc.

EPC Housing Regulations

the Energy Efficiency Certificate
Since June 2013, the Energy Efficiency Certificate (Certificacion energetica de edificios or CEE) has become mandatory for most types of housing in Spain.
The introduction of CEE is determined by the requirements of the European Union.
Warning! Without this document, you cannot sell or rent out an apartment or house in Spain.
Energy efficiency not only solves environmental problems and protects flora and fauna, but also benefits people. The less energy a house consumes, the lower the bills. In the end, this is a reduction in fuel costs and, ultimately, the cost of buildings. To improve energy efficiency, increased thermal insulation, heat recovery, infiltration (low level of air penetration from the street) and other modern technologies are used. You can read more about the energy certificate here.

Electricity Tariffs in Spain

The cost of electricity in Spain depends on the selected tariff. As we already mentioned, the monopolist in Spain is Iberdrola, but there are also various regional suppliers. Let's compare the pricing of the three companies (Iberdrola, Alcanzia and Lucera) in terms of a popular day/night rate. Remember that prices for 1 kWh exclude additional charges and taxes.

Who offers the best rate for electricity in 2019?

The most attractive light deals that will interest you with a good price-performance ratio:

Paying Your Electricity Bills

Bills for electricity in Spain are issued once every 1-2 months. All meters are placed outside the residential premises, therefore, all data is checked by employees of the energy companies. Almost every meter has been replaced by a smart one that is measured remotely; as well, since most of the companies have refused paper bills, they are now sent out in electronic form to the client by e-mail or are available for download via the web-account.

The invoice must indicate the period for which the calculation was made, the name of the tariff, the kWh consumed, taxes and some statistical data.
If for some reason the payment from your bank account was not successful (technical failure or insufficient balance), the company will inform you about this by paper message, phone call or e-mail, and offer alternative payment options.
If there are arrears in payments (usually 3-6 months), the energy company notifies the debtor for non-payment. According to the law, companies cannot stop the energy supply in under 2 months from the date the last paid invoice was issued. Usually, the debtor is given several days to settle the issue, after that the company's technician disconnects the apartment or house from the network and removes the meter. Next, the recovery of the debt may take place in court. Therefore, we strongly recommend you pay your bills on time!

Smart Electricity Meter

Almost all Spanish households have integrated these devices that measure the power consumption remotely.
the Energy Efficiency Certificate
Widely known as "smart meters", these devices replaced the analogue meters that required a person to take note of a number each month.
The new ones differ from these in that they measure remotely the energy consumption made every hour in a home.
The good thing for the user is that he or she can now check the consumption through the web page of his supplier or the National Commission of the Markets and the Competition (CNMC) in real time, so that the user is able to know their habits better and will be able to alter them in their benefit. The providers will allow them to monitor and act remotely over the electricity grid to anticipate possible incidents and improve the quality of service, in addition to speeding up power or rate changes.

Although nowadays households without smart meters are the minority, there are still some, especially in resale homes or houses that workers have not been able to access. Neither the removal of the old nor the installation of the new one provides any cost for the user. The meter change simply includes cutting the light for a few minutes, and the rent and maintenance of the equipment is 0.81 euros per month. There is the possibility of buying the device, which is around 100-200 euros and you must add security controls and their associated administrative costs. So, such a meter would pay off in about 10-20 years.

Solar Energy

There has been a huge controversy in Spain regarding the self-consumption of solar energy. Before Royal Decree 15/2018 was approved, the situation was not positive at all, neither in financial nor bureaucratic terms, for those pioneers who wished for photovoltaic self-consumption by installing solar collectors.

From 2015 until October 2018, there were laws that made this energy transition difficult. The law of the "sun tax" on self-consumption was astonishing. It was lifted thanks to the new Spanish government and EU prohibition on imposing these types of taxes as the part of the fight against climate change.
In the end, to what extent can a government demand taxes for a universal good such as the Sun?
Solar panels
In the October 2018 Royal Decree the sun tax was eliminated, and photovoltaic self-consumption was recognised as a right of the citizens, without the obligation to be charged for energy self-sufficiency.
Before the new regulation there was single option: each user independently had their very own panels and benefited exclusively from the energy accumulated.
Now there will be an external network that can provide energy to households that hire such services. In the Royal Decree of 5th April, two types of self-consumers were established: those who choose to give the excess energy away to the external network and those who decide not to share it. Those who wish to contribute excess energy to the network will receive generous compensation from the providers.

All in all, there is no better way to face the challenges of energy transition than joining a whole community to self-supply photovoltaic electricity. This is one of the main novelties of this new law of electrical self-consumption, according to which the possibility of association between neighbourhood communities is regulated. For this there would be a common generation plant that supplies energy to the whole household.
According to estimations from the Spanish Photovoltaic Union, following the new law there will be between 400 MW and 500 MW of self-consumption equipment installed annually.
2019 will be a historic year, without a doubt.
Lucia Dolera, head of photovoltaic projects at the Association of Renewable Energy Producers
Many companies, large, medium and small, have already launched their projects in search of new customers. Holaluz, a green electricity supplier, founded at the beginning of the decade, is experiencing a boom now.
In less than five years, having photovoltaic panels to be able to accumulate electricity will be common, like having a bathroom at home. Last year, the company increased its customer base by 65%, reaching 180,000 facilities distributed throughout the market. The objectives are ambitious for 2019: Holaluz is opting to double the portfolio of domestic customers.
— Carlota Pi, executive president and co-founder

Reducing Your Energy Costs

Smart approaches to energy saving not only make us think about how to save the environment, but also about how to save our own money. The cost of maintenance of a house in Spain can be significant, but it can always be reduced by responsible consumption. Here are some useful tips from thrifty people living in Spain:
1
Use solar energy
Almost all types of contemporary appliances can work with solar panels installed on the roof, which will also significantly reduce your electricity costs.
2
Choose modern appliances
Each device has a label indicating the amount of energy and water consumption. The label shows a rating from A+++ to D. The higher the rating, the more benefits it will bring to your pocket.
3
Install high-quality windows and doors
By this step, you can increase the thermal and acoustic comfort of the house, reduce CO2 emissions and save on heating and air conditioning.
4
Use light smartly
The cost of light is about 25% of the amount of energy consumed. LED lights are considered to be the most efficient, requiring up to 80% less electricity compared to incandescent bulbs. Take advantage of natural light! Slide the curtains, raise the blinds and turn off the lights when you don't need them.

3. Gas Supply in Spain

Many apartments have no heating at all, and gas is also an additional option, like an air conditioner. What is more, there is no centralised gas supply in Spain, so at best, a separate urbanization could be gasified, in which case the residents will pay according to the meter. In the worst case, you will have to change the gas cylinders constantly; however, cylinders can be ordered to your home, or you can exchange them yourself at gas stations. The propane cylinder costs €13; butane, €16. You may need a master to install and connect these types of devices, but it will cost you no less than €30.

Gas Bills

Central gas supply can be found in some central and northern regions of Spain. Depending on the size of the family and the amount of gas used it may cost around €30 per month, per person.

The average gas price for consumers in Spain is 0.1 euro per kWh. Gas is used primarily for air heating and water heating (mainly in the northern regions of Spain), not for cooking. If you only heat water, using gas can cost you 200 euros annually. If you are heating a three-room apartment during the winter, that will require 200 euros each month.
Example of a gas bill from Iberdrola:
  1. Bill details
  2. Bill resume and expenditure
  3. Quality stamps and important info
  4. Info on energy supply
  5. Info on billing and consumption
  6. Additional info
  7. Contacts

Inspections

The Mandatory Gas Inspection is the check that gas consumers must do to verify that their gas installation is in the proper condition to function correctly. The objective of this inspection is to guarantee the safety of the system, of the gas pipeline itself and of all its elements.

The inspection must be carried out every 5 years (every 4 years in the Basque Country), and must be carried out within the calendar year of expiration. The gas inspection must not be confused with the revision of the boiler, which is mandatory every 2 years except in the Basque Country where it must be carried out every year.
Cost of the inspection: around €30-45, depending on the region. Management fees: around €15. This service should be paid with the next bill. Nothing should be paid directly to the gas inspector, even if any additional problems were detected and work was done!
Who performs the gas inspection? The inspection must be carried out by an authorised technician. In addition, the technician must always carry his professional card, so that the client can easily recognize the authorised gas inspector. The client can choose which professional to hire, since the authorised technician for the gas revision can belong to:

  • a natural gas distributor; or
  • a gas installation company.

In any case, the authority responsible for monitoring that all gas facilities have their revisions in order are the gas distributors of each geographical area. In fact, although the responsibility of the state of the installation belongs to the owner of the supply, it is they who must notify you that this year the review should be carried out.
The gas distributor must notify the consumer three months before performing the inspection that they have to pass it. If the client does not notify that he prefers to do it with an independent company, the distributor will propose an appointment at least five days before the inspector's visit. Never let anyone in your home unless the visit was scheduled, as scammers never rest!
What happens if the gas check is not performed? In case it is impossible to carry out the review due to the client's attitude, the distributor is obliged to communicate it to the authorities, as they are able to suspend the supply of gas to the house until further notice.

Exceptions to this: this revision is not mandatory for gas cylinders of less than 15 kg capacity, connected by flexible pipe or directly coupled to a single mobile gas appliance.

4. Water in Spain

In Spain there is a centralised cold-water supply. To obtain hot water in each dwelling there are water heaters, which are gas or electric. Water tariffs are usually calculated on a progressive scale, and a bill includes consumed clean water, sewage and wastewater treatment. Each city in Spain has its own water companies.
The water tariffs in big cities of Spain:

Quality of Water in Spain

The availability of drinking water in Spain is often affected by droughts. In the system of water supply in Spain today 63% is allocated to ground sources, 33% to underground and 4% to desalination of sea water. However, the trend is changing in the direction of desalination.
Shortage of water in Spain
Spain is potentially experiencing a larger shortage of water over other European countries. 60% of Spanish territory is arid, which is especially true of the Mediterranean coast and central regions.
Today Barcelona receives more than 20% of Spain's drinking water through desalination. The quality of water in Spain does not suffer from this, but the taste seems strange. Therefore, most people prefer to drink bottled water or use water delivery services.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that in recent years the quality of water in Spain has remarkably improved. Thanks to the "National Plan of Recovery and Purification", Spain's tap water has less organic suspension. Despite this, Spain is still not yet among the top ten European countries with the highest quality drinking water.

Water Bills

The fee for being connected to the water system is about €80-140 annually (regardless of whether you live in Spain permanently or not). Water is paid by the cubic meter by progressive scale: the more consumption, the higher the fee for "overrun". For example, in Valencia for a two-month period: for the first 15 cubic meters - €0.5, for the next 15 - €0.7, for the next 20 - €1.8, etc. Usually, 15 cubic meters are enough for 2 people.

The conclusion is that the contract with the company and the installation of the meter can cost you up to €200. Regardless of whether you live in Spain and use water, or your housing is empty and the taps are closed, you must pay the company a monthly fee just for being connected to the water supply and sewage networks.
For example, in Torrevieja, the fee is around:
€13.5 per quarter for water

€11.5 per quarter for water purification
€8 per quarter for sewers

€1.2 per quarter for the rent of the meter
Actual consumption is considered after the fact, so how many cubic meters of water were used in 3 months. The water bill is usually issued once a quarter, and all of your billing data should be able to be viewed in your account on the company's website.

Usually the water bill is tied to the account, i.e. money is debited automatically. If for some reason the payment has not passed within the established time, the company will immediately notify you about the arrears via SMS or telephone and will offer payment options: download the invoice in your account and pay it in a bank, or through a personal account with a bank card.
Example of a water bill from aguas de Calpe Contacts:
  1. Contract info
  2. Invoice details
  3. Consumption info
  4. Summary
  5. Total to pay and distribution of costs
  6. Unpaid bills info
  7. Billing details
  8. Invoice info: quotas
  9. Total invoice
  10. Important info
  11. Additional info

Restrictions

In some rural places of Spain people still can experience a real water shortage, which is why the water supply can sometimes be limited. For this, owners usually have a rainwater storage.

Quite often household water is supplied by electric pumps, so the lack of electric power can lead to a lack of water supply. Also, the power button for pumps is often on the communal territory. If suddenly the flow of water has stopped, it is worth checking to see if someone accidentally turned it off.

In order to receive notifications in all emergency cases (a planned water shutdown; a sharp unplanned increase in water consumption, such as a likelihood of leakage; a problem with invoice payment; etc.), you need to connect to the free notification service. This can usually be done on the website of the supplier's company.

5. Average Cost of Utility Bills per Month

The average amount of monthly payments in Spain is €100-200, depending on the type of the property. In regions such as Catalonia, the autonomous community of Madrid where utilities are much more expensive, the owner spends an average of €250-300 monthly. What's more, in Spain utilities include a monthly fee.
Remember that invoices are usually issued every 2-3 months.
The bill for water for a villa also varies depending on the season, as you may need to top up your pool and water your garden more often.
A great trick to save water is to install a water saver in your tap, which can help to save 8 litres per minute! A saver for each tap costs around €50, and you can buy it in any hardware store.

6. Getting Your Gas or Electricity Supply Connected

The connecting of natural gas is a simple procedure, but it is not free. To connect the gas it is necessary to contact the marketer of your choice, either by phone, via an online platform or through an energy consultant in the office.

How to Connect a New Supply

The natural gas distributors are responsible for delivering the supply to the house. They use a network to which each house must be connected, which differs depending on if you live in a single-family house or in a building.

If you live in a single-family house, it will be enough for you to have an Individual Receiving Facility (IRI), which connects directly to the gas pipe. If you live in an apartment, it is necessary that the building has made a Common Receiving Facility (IRC) and that each apartment has made an IRI.

To start connecting your natural gas supply, you must contact the distributor of your choice and sign the contract. This procedure can be done by phone or through their online platform. All of the distributors have their own online platforms so that customers can manage their supply easily at any given time.
To do it online, you usually need to register as a user on the company's platform, after which you can access your consumption, invoices and other personal information. Once the user is registered, you must look for the option
'Contract online' or 'Sign up for Gas' to access the system.
Following the steps indicated, you can quickly hire your gas supply. Some companies work with forms that, once filled out, are sent back to the distributor, who will then be in charge of contacting the client to formalize the contract.

Once the contract with the distributor has been signed, it takes around a week to start the supply. The specialist will come to your house to install the gas meter and check that the gas installation is done correctly.
Electricity and gas suppliers in Spain:

What Documents Do You Have to Provide?

  • ID/Passport of the contract holder.
  • NIE (tax identification number). Here you can read more on how to get it.
  • First occupancy permit/opening license.
  • Certificate of occupancy.
  • Código Universal de Punto de Suministro or CUPS, which is Universal Supply Point Code (you can find it on a previous bill, these codes are different for gas and electricity). If you do not have it, it is necessary to obtain this code by contacting the distributor in your area, who will indicate the steps to follow to obtain it.
  • For electricity you will need Certificado de Instalación Eléctrica or CIE (Electrical Installation Certificate). If you do not have it, you need to find a specialist to review your installation. It may cost you €100-200.
  • For gas you will need an IRI certificate or thermal installation certificate if you need to connect heating installation. Copy of IRC if required as well.
  • The supply capacity you want to contract. For example, here you can find the capacity calculator for electricity.
  • Bank account number from which the payment will be automatically withdrawn.
You can do all the steps online on the website of the chosen supplier!

Expenses Needed to Get Your Gas or Electricity Connected

The obligatory fees to set up the electricity in Spain are the following:

Extension: €17.37 / kW + VAT
Access: €19.40 / kW + VAT
Connection: €9.04 + VAT
The price depends on three factors: the contracted power of the house, if it is a first light discharge and how long the supply has been suspended if there was already a connection previously. All these fees will be included in your first bill. All in all, the connection of electricity will cost you €100-1,000, depending on the required power and the availability of the CIE.

Any consumer who is part of the gas system has to pay a price for the supply of natural gas. The distributor charges two fees that result in a single bill that must be paid. The price for registration depends on the Autonomous Community where the house is located, and the total sum to pay can be between €200-700, varying according to the required amount of supply and the location.
To transfer the contract to the new owner is usually free or costs
no more than €20.

7. Waste Disposal

All municipalities have a garbage collection service that all owners must pay for; however, they don't necessarily all pay the same price, for the same concepts, or with the same periodicity. There are also big differences between the periodicity, the way in which that rate is charged, the deductions and the bonuses that apply. It depends simply on the decision of the municipality. In some cities there is a fixed rate, identical for all homes, no matter where they are located. Others have a variable rate that depends on the street where the house is and which is based on the cadastral value.
In some cities (such as Badajoz, Barcelona, Las Palmas, Madrid, Malaga and Valladolid, at the time of carrying out this study) there is no independent garbage tax but a cost is included in the IBI.
In any case, the amount charged to the citizen does not influence these aspects — those with a fixed rate are not more expensive; neither are those that vary according to the cadastral value of the home.

San Sebastian has the highest garbage tax (€178) while in Alicante the fee amount is just €28 per year. And in other cities, such as Madrid or Barcelona, there is no "garbage tax"; but the cost of the service is charged differently, through inclusion in the IBI—the 0 in the table does not imply that it is free, only that there is no such rate.

Agamed, the largest Spanish water supply company, also provides garbage collection; however, the bill for garbage comes separately every 3 or 6 months.

8. Conclusion

Household services bills can also be attributed to utility payments: maintenance of the territory, cleaning of the pool, lighting, etc. The cost of services depends on the territory of the residential complex, public areas and the number of apartments/villas. Accordingly, the price can vary from a few dozen to several hundred euros per quarter.

The Internet, cable TV, mobile and landline phones are also a separate item of expenditure. Prices depend on the particular operator and how services are purchased—individually or as a set of services, whether a contract is concluded, or if everything works on prepayment, etc. Usually the cost of the package is €40-60.
Comparison of utility bills for an 85 m2 apartment in Spain
and in UK
Full information on the cost of bills and maintenance of your Spanish home can be read here.
In summary, the cost of running property in Spain is among the lowest in Europe, and definitely cheaper than in the UK. If you choose tariffs and suppliers wisely, as well as use some tips on how to save resources, you can really save on bills.
For more information please contact the managers of our agency. It is our pleasure to assist you on a way to your dream!

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