France’s energy crisis and concerns that the French electricity network may become overloaded during periods of extreme weather over winter have led the country to put a series of energy-saving measures in place. Among these is the possibility of scheduled power cuts during periods when the energy grid is at risk of being overloaded.
The French Government launched the Ecowatt website to raise public awareness of national energy consumption and allow households to adjust their habits accordingly, especially during periods when there is a high risk of power cuts.
Using the Ecowatt website
By logging on to the Ecowatt website (www.ecowatt.fr) or downloading the smartphone app, users can see live feeds which show the availability of the country’s electricity in real-time. Rather like a weather map, these ‘electricity maps’ comprise of green (normal – no problem), orange (tense – potential problems) and red (high risk of power cuts) areas, giving a clear indication of the current situation in your local region. There is a three to four-day forecast, each shown over a 24-hour period.
The main aim is for people to see any potential problems in electrical supply and to alter their consumption in order to avoid a power cut. If you notice your area is ‘orange’ for example, you may look at putting energy-saving measures in place in your own household and encourage friends, family, and neighbours living in the area to do the same. All these little actions add up, and will hopefully mean that the area will avoid going into a ‘red’ alert or – if already ‘red’ – avoid the proposed power cuts and shortages.
What to do if your region is ‘orange’ or ‘red’
The government proposes the following measures for businesses, communes, and individual households to follow in order to reduce energy consumption over winter. Remember that although these measures are not obligatory and you may not feel they are necessary if your region is ‘green’, they will likely also save you some money on your energy bills – which, of course, are one of many increasing costs across France.
- Reduce the temperature of your central heating (19 degrees or by an extra 1 degree in red crisis times).
- Switch off unnecessary lights and use eco-energy bulbs.
- Switch off street lighting and unnecessary electric signage (businesses and communes).
- Avoid peak usage times (8-13h and 18-20h) and programme/use washing machines, dishwashers, water heaters, etc., in off-peak times.
- Moderate how you use your oven and think about shorter cooking times, alternative methods or recipes which require shorter cooking times. Put lids on pans to reduce cooking times
- Avoid charging electric vehicles during problem periods (i.e. orange or red) and charge vehicles outside of peak hours.
- Unplug items on ‘Standby’ during the night or if not in use
- Try to heat workplaces before 8 am (businesses and communes)
- Try to reduce hot water usage.
- Reduce the temperature of hot water to a minimum of 55 degrees.
Read our article 8 Ways to Save on Living Costs in France This Winter
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