According to the announcements from Météo France: “this week promises to be icy in France”. Negative temperatures which are not without raising concerns: “will there be enough electricity for all French people?”, also asks a Capital article on the subject.
A question not without foundation, because last year at the same time, all eyes were on the particularly low level of nuclear electricity production. For one reason and not the least: a corrosion problem on several reactors for two years and the consequences of the war in Ukraine. A situation which led the government to take fairly drastic measures, which left their mark: “turtleneck sweater and heating to 19°C for everyone”.
Even if no power cuts are expected, this cold spell risks having a significant impact on the energy bills of the French. Because the colder it is, the more we consume. Taking the example of a family of four living in a 90 m² electrically heated house. If temperatures in January are mild, 7°C on average, their electricity bill will be around 784 euros. But in the event of extreme cold, 0°C on average, the bill increases radically and amounts to 1220 euros.
But, rest assured. The situation is much more favorable than the previous winter. “We have a nuclear production base which is much more available than last year” and “gas stocks and water stocks which were at a very high level” at the start of the winter season, explains Arnaud Mazingue, Director of Operations at RTE (Electricity Transmission Network), for BFM Business.
The development of renewable energies has progressed since last year. “We installed 2.5 gigawatts more wind energy” and “2.5 gigawatts more solar energy”, or “2.5 gigawatts is approximately the consumption of Paris”, specified Arnaud Mazingue at the microphone of BFM Business. He also explains that “the behavior of the French has evolved enormously, particularly in communities and businesses”.
According to RTE, “since last winter, but also over the whole of 2023, we have seen a structural drop of 7.5% to 8% in electricity consumption”.
This is also the opinion of the Minister of Energy Transition, who wants to be reassuring about our electricity stocks.
“Everything will go very well,” assures Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of Energy Transition, interviewed this Monday, January 8 at Franceinfo. “We have a lot of electricity that we produce, we have gas in our storage, we are very comfortable compared to these cold waves,” specifies the minister.
The situation is much more reassuring than last year, when only 34 of the 56 nuclear reactors in France were operating. Today, at the start of 2024, 47 of them produce electricity.
Our hydroelectric dams are also much better prepared than last year: upstream water stocks were 68% full in January 2023, compared to 81% this year. Enough to meet the needs of the French until peak consumption, expected Wednesday January 10. However, there are a few things you can do to save money in winter.
A situation which does not, however, prevent us from remaining vigilant on a daily basis in terms of energy consumption; in order to avoid a hefty bill but also to preserve the environment. Here is a reminder of some simple actions to take on a daily basis.
First of all, for heating your home, the recommended temperature for the living room is always 19 °C. Every time you lower the radiator temperature by one degree, you save 7% on electricity, or a few euros on the electricity bill at the end of the month.
You should also make sure to turn off your connected devices and cover your pot to boil water or even close your shutters in your absence.
Finally when it comes to lighting, replace traditional bulbs with LED bulbs, which consume much less energy and last longer. And of course, always turn off the lights when you leave a room. Small gestures that can pay off big in every way this winter.