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TESTIMONIALS. “I wash myself with a washcloth”: seven French people tell how they reduced their energy bills – franceinfo


Have the “end of the world” and the “end of the month” become the same thing? As winter approaches, there are many reasons to pay attention to your energy consumption. In response to European sanctions linked to the Russian offensive, Moscow has virtually stopped gas deliveries to its European neighbors. A bad timing for France, while half of its nuclear reactors are shut down due, in particular, to a corrosion problem. Because of these limited resources and the anxiety of the markets, energy prices have exploded. The government has called on the French to “energy sobriety” to avoid cuts this winter… but also, in the longer term, to deal with the climate emergency. Seven French people, who often consider themselves “privileged”, told franceinfo about their daily efforts to limit their energy expenditure. Véronique: “I will only turn on one radiator” On the phone, Véronique, a recently retired nurse, has a trembling voice. The day before, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced that French households should face, at the beginning of 2023, a 15% increase in the regulated price of gas and electricity. That is, on average, 25 euros per additional month for households that heat with gas and 20 euros for those that heat with electricity. “I expected worse, thank you the ‘tariff shield’, blows this resident of Limoges (Haute-Vienne), whose pension amounts to 1,420 euros monthly. That means giving up an outing to the cinema, but I can absorb it.” But what really worries Véronique is the end of the regulated gas tariff, scheduled for June 30, 2023. “I have always refused to leave the regulated tariff, because I felt safer there. what am I going to do? I don’t know where to turn,” laments the sixty-year-old, who refuses the financial assistance offered by her two children out of “pride”. “I am not close to 20 euros per month, but 60 euros, yes.” Anticipating the rise in prices, Véronique has therefore decided to review her budget from top to bottom: she is keeping her car for the time being, which she uses “to visit [ses] old parents and [sa] aunt” settled in the region, but also a budget of several hundred euros per year to reach her children and grandchildren by train or plane, in Salon-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône) and Vancouver (Canada) On the deprivation side, the 64-year-old retiree has converted to the food “discount” and has drastically reduced her energy consumption: “I turn off the box every evening, I wash myself with a washcloth so as not to take any more shower only once a week, and this winter I will only turn on one radiator.” Hedwige: “My green electricity supplier is encouraging me to leave” EDF, TotalEnergies, Mint Energie… Since 2018 , Hedwige, 60, tenant of a house in Tours (Indre-et-Loire), has changed gas or electricity supplier four times.An economic question, for this professor of industrial design in high school who tracks down the good deals. But also an ecological concern: “When you have five children, you worry about the world you’re going to leave them!” nce she justifies her choice to subscribe to a renewable electricity contract, in 2020. But at the beginning of August, she learns that her “electricity bill will double”. Her supplier, Mint Energie, warns her that the rates will be “very high” from October 1, increasing her monthly payment from 43 euros … to 113 euros. The latter even encourages her to return to the regulated EDF tariff, covered by the “tariff shield”, ensuring that she would thus save “662 euros per year”. Excerpt from a message from Mint Energie received by Hedwige in the summer of 2022, encouraging her to change supplier. (DR) “I had the impression of being had, she sighs. My supplier advocated green electricity and consumer protection, but in the end, he encouraged me to leave.” After making inquiries, the teacher finally joined TotalEnergies, for a monthly gas and electricity payment of 210 euros, blocked for one year, the equivalent of what she would have paid at the regulated rate. , she assures. “It’s heartbreaking because I condemn what Total is doing to the planet, but I’m too afraid that if alternative suppliers disappear, EDF will take advantage of the regained monopoly to increase prices even more! And there, we don’t will have more alternatives.” Aurélien: “Government aid is just a drop of water” In 2012, Aurélien, a territorial civil servant, and his wife, a freelance photographer, acquired an old building in Panossas (Isère), classified G on the energy performance diagnosis, which makes it a “thermal sieve”. The thirties, who between them earn 2,200 euros net per month, do not have the funds to renovate everything. They therefore installed double glazing and replaced the old stove with boiler, which heated the house with coal, with a wood pellet boiler. An “ecological and economic” investment, encouraged by the State: the couple receives aid from the National Housing Agency of 6,000 euros, or half the price of their new boiler. But ten years later, Aurélien is disillusioned. Faced with the increase in demand, but also with the explosion in the cost of raw materials, energy and fuel linked to the war in Ukraine, the price of a tonne of pellets has jumped by 75% between 2021 and 2022, going from 309 euros to 540 euros. Result: the couple preferred to wait for the price to come down before going to checkout. “We have a little left of the four tonnes ordered last year, says Aurélien. But we won’t be able to hold out all winter. We’ll be heating less than the recommended 19°C, that’s for sure!” Reacted against the government, which at first only supported those heating with gas and electricity via the “tariff shield”, the 30-year-old believes that the aid finally promised by Elisabeth Borne for fuel oil and wood n is “just a drop in the bucket compared to the tidal wave of increases”. Alexandre: “First of all, I make efforts to preserve the environment” Alexandre did not skimp on the work. In his house in Val-d’Oise, where he has lived for four years with his wife, a music teacher, and his 7-year-old daughter, he re-insulated his walls, installed a wood stove in 2018, insulated the roof in 2021 and installed photovoltaic panels in 2022 – to “compensate” for the energy used by the electric vehicle purchased the same year. An investment of more than 20,000 euros, despite state aid, that the couple in their forties was able to afford thanks to the compensation received by Alexandre as part of a voluntary departure plan. This former heat engine specialist left the automotive world and now provides technical support for an industrial group. If the work undertaken has made it possible to halve the family’s electricity consumption and to eliminate gas consumption almost entirely, the benefits on the wallet are not yet felt. “The efforts we have made require investing in equipment, we will not be winners for ten or fifteen years”, calculates Alexandre. A secondary gain, for the couple who earns 4,300 euros net per month. “I find it a shame to make efforts to preserve your wallet first, and not the environment.” Sylvie: “I wondered what I could do at my level” Sylvie has civic duty pegged to the body. This 59-year-old army officer, who lives in Issy-les-Moulineaux (Hauts-de-Seine), has changed her consumption habits because of “Ukrainian news”. “I knew we were going to run out of gas, so I wondered what I could do at my level,” she explains. “Some companies cannot live without gas, but I can reduce my consumption so that there is no ‘black out’ this winter.” Last February, the 50-year-old therefore completely stopped heating her apartment at night in cold weather, preferring to close her shutters at dusk to avoid heat leaks. She also set her mixers to the cold water position, to prevent water from being heated unnecessarily, reduced the time of her shower and spaced out her shampoos. “It’s a bit like the story of the hummingbird trying to put out the fire,” she admits, detailing her small daily gestures. Put together, his new habits have nevertheless enabled him to reduce his gas consumption by 30% between January and June 2022, compared to the same period the previous year. Nathalie: “I’m crossing my fingers that the winter will be mild” Nathalie is “angry”. This resident of Brenouille (Oise) had to halve her domestic fuel order compared to last year. In question: the doubling of prices in one year. “I tried to make a group order with my neighbors to reduce the cost, but you had to buy at least 1,000 liters per household, which neither I nor they could afford”, laments this mother of two young adults. who study in Paris. So, once the cold returns, “I will hardly heat myself, except when my children come home. Fingers crossed that we have a mild winter!” Nathalie has thought about changing the heating mode, but given her comfortable income (3,500 euros net per month), “I have almost no state aid”. However, between her mortgage (1,200 euros monthly), that of her car (540 euros) and her children’s rent (more than 1,000 euros), she cannot save enough for such an investment. “Fuel oil may have increased considerably and be very polluting, but it remains the cheapest energy for me.” Under these conditions, it is difficult for her to hear the government’s call for sobriety: “We have all seen the images of the ministers’ cars running at full speed in the courtyard of the Elysée to make the air conditioning work”. aid announced, it’s still that, but it’s a bandage on a wooden leg. Me, I’m privileged, but people on the minimum wage can no longer get by.” Philippe: “We played on the tariffs by changing the contract” Worried by the rise in energy prices, Philippe, a young retiree from IT, undertook a benchmarking of electricity and gas offers this summer via the online comparator of the UFC-Que Choisir consumer association. “As we changed the boiler in 2012 for a condensing gas boiler, we can no longer benefit from state aid to modify our heating mode. So we played on the prices by changing the contract”, justifies he. On the electricity side, this resident of Tourcoing (North) swapped his offer at the regulated tariff at EDF for the Tempo tariff, from the same supplier. This option allows it to benefit from a reduced price per kWh 300 days a year, from a tariff identical to the regulated tariff for 43 days, but forces it to a high tariff 22 days a year, when the network is most used. The sexagenarian and his wife thus hope to “earn almost 15%” on their annual bill by “organizing themselves”: during the days at the high price, “we will not run the washing machine or the dishwasher, and we will heat dishes that we will have prepared in advance”, explains the retiree. On the gas side, the couple opted for the EDF Avantage Gaz Durable offer, which is “50% more expensive than the regulated tariff, but the price of which is blocked for four years”. A bet he hopes to win, while the regulated price must increase by 15% at the start of 2023, before disappearing on June 30.



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