How to set up utilities in Spain.

The procedure for setting up utilities in Spain depends on the type of property ownership or rental agreement, whether it’s for a long or short term.

When renting a property in Spain, the inclusion of utility costs in your monthly rental payment can vary. It’s crucial to clarify the extent of coverage with your landlord before finalising your rental agreement. If utilities are not included, you typically have the flexibility to select your utility provider or maintain the existing connections.

However, in the context of short-term rentals, utility expenses are usually bundled into the total payment, and you may not have the liberty to choose your provider.

For property owners without an existing utility connection, there are more provider options available. It’s important to bear in mind that the setup process can be time-consuming, so it’s prudent to initiate contact with providers well in advance. If the property is already connected, the process is significantly more streamlined. In this situation, you’ll need to reach out to the energy provider and establish a contract in your name. While you may have the choice to switch providers, it’s important to be aware that in certain areas, only one provider may be available.

Payments are usually handled via automated bank transfers, and you’ll need to supply your bank account details during the registration procedure. It’s important to keep in mind that only a Spanish bank can be used for this registration.

Brief introduction to the Spanish utilities system

Utilities in a home, such as electricity, gas, water, internet, telephone, and more, are essential for daily comfort and functionality. In Spain, the utility market is liberated, allowing you to choose your providers, except for water, which is typically predetermined by location and managed through local authorities.

Different types of available utilities

Water:
Water charges are directly linked to your consumption, as measured by your water metre. The cost increases with higher consumption levels. For example, in the province of Málaga, the rates are structured in bands, as stipulated by the water service provider Aqualia.

    • For the first consumption band (0-8 cubic metres per month), the cost is 0.37 € per cubic metre (m³).
    • In the second consumption band (9-20 m³ per month), the rate rises to 1.01 €/m³.
    • For the third consumption band (21-30 m³ per month), the cost is 1.59 €/m³.
    • If your consumption exceeds 30 m³ per month, you will face a higher penalty rate of 2.04 €/m³.

Electricity:
In September 2023, the average wholesale electricity price in Spain reached 103.36 euros per megawatt-hour, marking an increase compared to the preceding month.

Gas:
The Iberian exception was structured to cap the price of wholesale gas at €40 per megawatt-hour (MWh) from December 2022, followed by monthly increments until December 2023, eventually reaching €65/MWh. This cap aims to levy the gas market prices affected by the war on Ukraine until the end of 2023.In Spain, the average cost of gas, including 5%VAT for consumers stands like this until January 2024:

For the TUR RL.1 rate (average consumption of 5,000 kWh/year), the cost is 27.72 euros per month.

For the TUR RL.2 rate (average consumption of 9,121 kWh/year), the cost is 49.03 euros per month.

The average natural gas consumption for a household in Spain is 5,097 kWh per year. However, this figure can vary significantly depending on the gas equipment installed. Homes with gas heating, hot water, and a gas stove have an average natural gas consumption of 7,921 kWh per year, while houses that use gas only for hot water and cooking have an average consumption of 2,956 kWh per year

  • Telecommunications and Internet Communication expenses, including cell phone and internet services, it can also be categorised as part of utility bills. Many Spanish providers offer property owners combined contracts that bundle cell phone, internet, and television services. In such cases, users pay a fixed annual fee of approximately €600 a year. There are many providers and you should browse your options before you choose.

Utilities when you rent.

Some rental properties may incorporate water and electricity costs into the rental payment. It’s important to confirm whether this arrangement applies to your tenancy prior to finalising your rental agreement. If you are entering into a long-term rental, you may have the option to transfer the contract to your name, switch providers, and even add additional services such as internet if they are not already included.

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Electricity companies in Spain

Water services

In Spain, the local municipalities typically oversee the water supply and delegate the distribution responsibilities to either a private or public company. The Town Hall can provide information regarding the specific water company that serves a particular property. Certain regions in Spain often implement water restrictions, promoting water conservation practices. Additionally, households are typically charged on a quarterly basis for a minimum consumption fee, known as “canon de consumo,” even if no water is used during the billing period.

Water set-up process

Once you have obtained the name of the water company serving your area from the Town Hall, locate their nearest office. Before visiting the office, make sure to record the readings from your water metre and have this information readily available.

When you go to the water company’s office, you will need to provide the following documents:

Licencia de Primera Ocupación (The First Occupation License) or Certificado de Habitabilidad (Certificate of Habitability): These certificates can be acquired through the Town Council. Often, you will need to engage a technical architect (arquitecto técnico) to prepare the necessary report. After paying the required fees and submitting the architect’s report, the Town Council will issue this certificate.

NIE Number: You will need your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) number, which is the foreigner’s identification number in Spain.

Bank Account Number for Direct Debit: Be ready with your bank account details to set up direct debit payments.

Address of the Property: Ensure you have the precise address of the property for which you are making changes to the water contract.

Water prices in Spain

The variability of water supply prices in Spain is quite significant, the differences between the most expensive and the cheapest city can be as high as 435%. For a consumption of 175 cubic metres, there could be a threefold price difference in water bills. Barcelona residents would pay 520 euros, while those in Guadalajara would pay 164 euros.

Valencia holds the top spot for the highest water prices, with Ceuta, Murcia, Cádiz, and Huelva following closely in the ranking.

Malaga ranks twenty-eighth on this list, with an average annual water bill of €288.

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Electricity services

The electricity supply in Spain is typically 220 volts AC with a frequency of 50 hertz, similar to much of Europe. However, there are some areas that still use a 110-volt supply, although this is not very common.

In Spain, the distribution and sale of electricity are handled by two different entities: distribuidoras, which are responsible for the distribution of electricity, and comercializadoras, which are responsible for selling electricity to customers. As a customer, you will primarily interact with a comercializadora.

Some of the major electricity providers in Spain include:

  • Endesa.
  • Iberdrola.
  • Gas Natural Fenosa.
  • EGL.
  • EDP Hidrocantábrico Energia.
  • Acciona.
  • E.ON.
  • EVM

Electricity set-up process

The essential information required for setting up your electricity contract includes:

The individual’s name, their Spanish tax number (NIF or NIE), and their contact information, serving as the contract holder.

The property’s address.

The particulars of the bank account designated for bill payments.

Your Unified Supply Point Code (CUPS), an alphanumeric code found on your electricity bills.

The electricity installation certificate, a mandatory document demonstrating the safety and integrity of your electricity supply.

In Spain, there are multiple payment methods for settling your electricity bills. It is recommended to opt for automatic direct debit payments, preferably from a Spanish bank account. Transitioning to smart metres can eliminate the need for estimated bills and concerns about overpayment. Alternatively, you can make payments through the postal service, local banks, or directly at the electricity company’s office.

How to choose the right electricity provider.

The consistent rise in electricity expenses in Spain in recent years has prompted many people to compare different Spanish electricity companies and their electricity plans. When selecting the right electricity provider in Spain, there are numerous factors to consider.

Electricity costs in Spain are categorised into fixed and variable expenses, both of which are crucial to consider when making your choice. Fixed costs represent set amounts that you must pay each month, regardless of your actual electricity consumption. These fixed costs include:

Power capacity: This is the contracted rate, calculated as kWh x days x price.

Metre rental expenses: You have the option to purchase a smart metre as a one-time payment, eliminating the need for monthly rental fees.

Maintenance contract: This is an optional add-on.

Variable costs, on the other hand, include:

Your monthly electricity usage.

Electricity tax, which is levied on both power capacity and consumption.

In Spain, where there are more than 100 distinct electricity plans to choose from, the most effective strategy for reducing your electricity expenses is to conduct thorough research and identify the most economical and well-suited plan for your needs.

Gas supply Spain

Electricity prices in Spain

Average daily price on 27/10/2023 was 0.0921 €/kWh, with the lowest price occurring at 02-03h at 0.03725 €/kWh, and the highest price at 20-21h at 0.20752 €/kWh. In this year 2023, the average price per kWh is 88 €/kWh.

The price of electricity per kWh in Spain in 2023 varies depending on the supplier, tariff type, and the market it’s contracted in. Iberdrola charges €57.23 per year for power and €0.1957 per kWh for consumption. Endesa charges €3.43 a month for power and €0.213978 per kWh for consumption. Naturgy: €44.49 per kW per year for power, and €0.1503 per kWh for consumption.

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Gas services

Spain’s dependence on foreign gas has increased in 2023, compared to 2022, with Russia now emerging as the second-largest supplier to Spain, following Algeria, which delivers gas to the country through a Mediterranean pipeline.

When it comes to selecting a gas provider, your options are contingent on whether multiple gas suppliers serve your area, which isn’t always guaranteed. Before making your choice, it’s advisable to explore the various tariff options to find the one that aligns with your specific needs. Additionally, some gas providers in Spain offer combined gas and electricity tariffs, a possibility worth considering. Notable gas suppliers in Spain include Enagas, Endesa, and Naturgy.

Natural gas or propane? How to decide

When choosing a type of gas for heating, hot water, or cooking, consumers have the option to select between piped gas (natural gas), which is methane gas extracted from underground sources and supplied through pipelines, or bottled gas (butane or propane), which does not require a distribution network and is available in individual bottles or bulk quantities. A “bombona de butano” refers to the bottle gas tank containing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is primarily a blend of hydrocarbon gases, with propane constituting the majority (typically over 90%) along with butane and propylene.

Opting for propane or butane over natural gas is a more cost-effective choice but handling the weight and refilling of the “bombona de gas” can be inconvenient. Although you may not have a choice in rural Spain or small cities

Gas set-up process

When moving into a property with mains gas, found mainly in major cities, contact the local gas company to activate the service and set up a supply contract; Naturgy is a prominent supplier in Spain. For areas without mains gas, butane bottled gas (bombonas) is available through delivery services or local outlets like petrol stations and supermarkets. To secure a bottled gas contract, a safety inspection is required, along with specific documentation. A refundable deposit is needed for the initial gas bottle purchase, and appliances must be serviced every five years, a service that can be arranged through the supplier.

Internet and telephony connection

In a 2023 report by the Ministry of Economy, it was revealed that 5G technologies have achieved over 82.3% among the population, and approximately 96% of Spanish households now have internet access. The prevalent types of internet connections in Spain include ADSL, WiMAX, and Wi-Fi, with an expanding availability of fibre optic connectivity nationwide, offering some of the fastest internet speeds. It’s important to bear in mind that while these connection options are accessible, internet speeds in rural areas may still lag behind those in urban areas.

Main internet providers in Spain

Major broadband providers in Spain include Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, MásMóvil, Yoigo, Jazztel, Lowi, and O2. Internet services typically come at an average monthly cost of approximately EUR 30-40, with the possibility of an initial signup fee for installation, although the router is generally included without an additional charge. Contract durations are typically limited to a maximum of 12 months, and it’s essential to carefully review the terms and conditions, as early contract termination might entail a specified cancellation fee.

Tips to choose the best telephony plan.

To choose the right phone plan that suits your needs and budget, consider these factors:

Data usage. When selecting a phone plan, assess your data needs based on your usage of web browsing, apps, social media, streaming, and more; reviewing past usage reports in your provider account can help you gauge your average data consumption, considering the impact of Wi-Fi connectivity is also important.

Also consider coverage area, the number of phone lines, prepaid plans if applicable, network quality, and the importance of extra features like international roaming or parental controls.

Paying a bill in Spain

Internet and telephony prices in Spain

Movistar stands as the pioneer ADSL and fibre optic service provider in Spain, leading the way by introducing bundled mobile and ADSL packages for its customers. Operating under the Telefónica umbrella, which formerly held a monopoly on telecommunications in Spain until 1998, Movistar maintains a substantial market share, accounting for nearly 70% of the market today.

The cheapest plan is miMovistar Max with 600 Mb of internet fibre and one mobile line with 30Mb of data for 57 euros a month. Internet alone of 300Mbs is 39.90 euros a month. Vodafone charges 40 euros a month for 300Mbs of fibre and one mobile line with 50Mbs or 33.80 euros a month for internet alone of 600Mbs.

Orange internet fibre plan of 500Mbs stands at 33 euros a month and its internet and mobile plan includes TV and the  minimum payment is 69 euros a month with unlimited data on mobile phones.

Understanding and managing your utility bills.

All utility bills will include Invoice data, consumption information, contract details, bill breakdown, and other pertinent information such as customer service numbers, notifications, and product-related information.
Effectively managing your energy consumption and analysing your utility bills can lead to significant cost savings.

Tips to keep your utility expenses under control.

To lower electricity costs, invest in high-efficiency appliances, unplug devices on standby, switch to LED bulbs, and adjust your contracted power capacity while being mindful of associated fees.

  • To reduce telephone expenses, explore switching to a budget-friendly carrier, bundle services with friends or family and evaluate your current plan.
  • For your gas consumption, optimise your heating by adjusting the temperature, insulating doors and windows, utilising solar warmth, clearing radiators, maintaining your system and making the most of heat.
  • Conserve water by inspecting for toilet leaks, avoiding using toilets for disposal, placing a plastic bottle in the tank, taking shorter showers, using water-saving shower heads, taking baths, and turning off the tap while brushing your teeth and shaving.
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FAQs

Just like any other European counterparts, the main household bills in Spain are electricity, water, gas, internet and telecommunications such as telephone bills. Additionally alarm systems and property taxes such as community fees, rubbish and local tax.

Electricity bills in Spain are typically generated and sent out every month or on a bimonthly basis.

Germany, France, the UK, and Italy represent the prominent European economies where the average energy price stands at €114.55 per megawatt-hour (MWh), a notable 40.82% higher than Spain’s price, which currently stands at €73.73 per MWh. Spain has consistently trailed behind its European counterparts in energy prices since June 2022 when the “Iberian model” mechanism was introduced. However, it’s worth noting that the Iberian mechanism has seen minimal activity in 2023, with several months passing without any operation, primarily due to electricity prices in Spain consistently remaining below the designated ‘cap.’

Furthermore, Spanish gas market prices in MIBGAS remain more affordable compared to other European energy hubs. The increase in power generation from pumping turbines during peak hours has set new production records, notably with the application of photovoltaic technology. Additionally, there has been a 14% reduction in power demand during solar hours.

 

  • If you need to replace any appliances, choose those with more efficient energy labels, such as A+, A++, or A+++. Although they are usually more expensive, in the long run, you’re saving so much on electricity that they are actually cheaper than the more economical appliances at the end of their life.
  • Standby mode can make up to 10% of your yearly energy consumption. Unplug devices like TVs, computers, chargers, and hot water heaters to save on your electricity bill.
  • Switching to low-energy bulbs, like LEDs, can save you a lot on electricity costs with their longer lifespan and up to 80% less energy consumption.
  • Your monthly electricity bill includes a fixed cost for your contracted power capacity. Having too much capacity is wasteful but reducing it too much can be inconvenient. Choose the right balance to save on electricity. Be aware that adjusting your capacity incurs fees, approximately 11 euros to decrease it and about 45 euros per kW to increase it, with potential extra charges depending on your distribution company.
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