In September, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne held a press conference on the subject on energy bills and announced that, although bills will rise in 2023, the rise will be contained via a government-imposed price cap.
Here’s what that means for your household bills.
From January, gas bills can increase by up to a maximum of 15 percent for customers of Engie (formerly known as Gaz de France). For the average consumer this will represent a rise of €25 per month, although obviously your bill will vary depending on the size of the home that you are heating. If you live in a small apartment, the price rise will probably be more like €15.
From February electricity prices can also rise, again by a maximum of 15 percent. As before, the cap applies only to customers of EDF who are on the base rate tariff.
This will represent a rise of €20 per month for the average customer.
The price cap covers households but also small businesses – those businesses that have a turnover of less than €1 million per year – and the smaller communes such as village mairies.
Businesses that have seen a decline in profits, or those for whom energy bills represent more than three percent of their total turnover, will also benefit from the regulated tariff.
Although French consumers are among the best protected in Europe from rising energy price rises, the increase in energy bills – coming in partnership with rising prices for other essentials such as food – will still be tough for those on low incomes.
The government therefore announced a one-off chèque energie of between €100 and €200 for low income households, which is expected to have reached 12 million households – or roughly four in 10.
Despite its name, the chèque energie is actually a cash grant, paid directly into your bank account.
The amount is calculated according to your circumstances – so for example a family with two children where the parents earn minimum wage will get €200, while a family with two children where the net monthly income is €3,000 or less will get €100.
The chèque was paid in December 2022 – and if you received previous grants and chèques energie it should have been paid to you automatically.
The grants are usually distributed automatically to people on low income, based on previous year’s tax declarations, but foreigners and recent arrivals can slip through the net, especially pensioners.
If you believe that you are eligible but haven’t received previous grants, you can go to your local CAF office to ask about eligibility.
The French government has also announced additional energy grants for families that primarily use wood heating to help combat soaring wood prices. These cheques are also means-tested.
For households that heat using fuel-oil, the French government has also offered a dedicated energy grant, but this cannot be used in tandem with the wood energy cheque.
You can learn more about how to access these grants here.