Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, one of the first tasks when moving into your French property will be setting up your utilities. Here’s what you need to know about setting up your electricity, water, and gas.
Moving Into Your French Property
Before moving into your French property, you should take note of the utilities that your property uses and ensure that any relevant meters have been read prior to your moving date. Depending on how long the property has been empty, you will then need to contact your chosen utility supplier to re-connect or set up a new contract in your name.
Setting up a new contract is typically an easy process and can be done either over the phone or online – some companies will send out a contract for you to sign, while others now allow digital signatures. Expect to be asked for your passport/ID, proof of homeownership or residence (such as a rental contract or copy of the Acte de Vente), and your bank RIB.
Contracts are typically continual (i.e. they will automatically renew until you cancel it or change provider), and the easiest option is to set up a direct debit (prelevement). However, you can cancel or change your contracts with French energy providers at any time without needing a reason.
Utilities at Rural French Properties
Many foreign buyers purchase old French properties to renovate or countryside homes in remote rural areas, and this can lead to some differences in the utilities available. Rural properties may not be connected to mains gas; instead, a gas-powered property may have a gas tank stored outside the property. Wood-burning or oil central heating systems also might be in place. While most rural properties in France still have a mains water connection, you may also find there is a well or spring (source d’eau) on your land.
Rural properties are also far less likely to be connected to the mains sewage system, and therefore you will be responsible for installing or maintaining suitable a fosse septique (septic tank) or non-collective sewage treatment system on your property. Our article on French Septic Tank Systems & Fosses Septiques has more details.
Setting Up Utilities at Your French Home
All French properties should be connected to the electricity grid and mains water, but you may also have a mains gas connection or alternative heating options to consider. Here’s a run-down of the different utilities you might need to set up.
Setting Up Your Electricity
France’s largest electricity provider is the state-owned EDF (Electricité de France), and they, along with the state-owned Engie, remain the only providers able to provide regulated tariffs (tarifs réglementés). However, there are now many different electricity providers to choose from, and it’s highly recommended to shop around and find the best deal for you, whether that means taking advantage of more competitive market-based tariffs or opting for a greener source of energy.
If you are connecting a new house to the grid for the first time, you will need to contact Enedis, France’s electricity grid operator (a subsidiary of EDF). Otherwise, you can sign up with your chosen provider directly, either by phone or online.
Most homes in France are now fitted with a Linky™ Meter, a smart electricity meter that allows real-time electricity consumption to be transferred back to Enedis and your electricity provider. Many providers now provide app support, allowing you to monitor your electricity usage and track market rates.
Read our article Electricity in your French property for more about setting up your electricity and choosing a supplier.
Setting Up Your Water
Almost all homes in France will be connected to mains water, which is supplied by one of three companies depending on your region (Saur, Veolia, or Suez) and overseen by the commune. Your local Mairie will be able to advise you on which supplier serves your area, and you will need to contact them to set up your account. Water is charged by the cubic metre, and prices are set by the commune.
Read our article French Water Supply and Drainage.
Setting Up Your Gas
There are three options for using gas at your French property. Many properties have a mains gas connection, in which case you can set up an account with either Engie, France’s state-run gas provider, or another gas supplier of your choice. Rural properties without access to the gas network may also have a gas tank located on the property (typically in an outbuilding or buried underground), in which case you can take out a contract with a gas supplier to deliver gas directly to your home.
A final option for small-usage gas customers (for example, if you use gas for cooking only) is to purchase bottled propane or butane gas, which is available from most supermarkets and gas stations.
Read our article Gas in your French property for more about setting up your electricity and choosing a supplier.
Heating Your French Property
There are many different options for heating a French home, and depending on the age and location of your property, you may come across heating systems different from those you are used to in your home country. Many central heating systems use gas or oil, which tend to be among the cheapest options. Electric heating is generally the most expensive option and tends to be restricted to smaller, well-insulated homes or apartments.
Many old rural properties will have fireplaces, while more modern wood- or pellet-burning stoves and boilers are becoming increasingly popular. Biomass such as wood and pellets remain the cheapest option to fuel your central heating, with the added bonus of being a more ecological choice. Equally, heat pumps are becoming a popular choice for new builds, and some can double up as an air-conditioning system during the summer months. The French government is keen to encourage greener energy sources, and grants are currently available for homeowners looking to replace older, less eco-friendly heating systems with a heat pump.
Read our article on Heating Your French Property for more information on the different options.
Own a Property or Second Home in France?
Our Essential Reading articles cover everything you need to know as a French homeowner from property taxes and home insurance to paying your bills. Perhaps you also need recommendations on removals to France, advice on building and renovations, or tips for managing a second home? FrenchEntrée is here to help! We can even advise on selling your French property.