With chilly days upon us and the nights drawing in, you are bound to be using more gas and electricity at home – something you cannot fail to see if you have a smart meter.
Making sure your home is well-insulated, turning off the lights when you leave a room and even turning down the central heating a degree will all help cut your energy spending. But you can also save money by shopping around to make sure you have the best deal for your needs.
The Dutch energy market was liberalised in 2004 and there are now more than 25 suppliers licenced to offer gas and electricity to domestic consumers. You are free to choose the supplier that best fits your needs – but where do you start? One of the easiest ways to get going is to compare energy prices by using a comparison website.
You will probably be surprised by the number of options open to you, and the number of familiar and unfamiliar names. Two of the big three Dutch energy firms – Nuon and Essent – are now in foreign hands while Eneco, which is up for sale, is still owned by 44 Dutch local authorities including Rotterdam.
Alongside them are a host of international companies like Electrabel and Dong which are keen to get established in the Netherlands, and smaller players focusing on niche markets or the budget sector.
United Consumers, for example, is a collective offering cheaper energy, petrol and even health insurance to members. Van de Bron – just bought by Essent – focuses on sustainable energy generated in the Netherlands and Greenchoice is a green energy collective.
This year the average Dutch household paid some €300 more than in 2018 for their gas and electricity, due in the main to an increase in various taxes. In fact, around half of your energy bill will go straight to the government in the form of tax and other charges.
The huge increased this year caused a storm of protest and next year, the government has pledged to reverse some of the rise via a tax refund which will be worth around €100 to the average family. But you can still do more by shopping around for a new supplier – in fact around half of Dutch households have made the switch at least once since 2004.
First of all you need to decide what matters to you most. Is making sure you have the lowest price the main issue? Or would you prefer to have a provider which focuses on green energy from renewable sources? The EasySwitch.nl website allows you to chose either one or both options. You can also ask for separate advice for gas and electricity – which is especially relevant if you have a gas-free home.
The website is currently only available in Dutch but the company has provided a handy translation guide to help non-Dutch speakers fill in the relevant form. All you need to get started is an estimate of your energy needs – last year’s bill is good guide – and to decide what sort of energy you want.
In just a few minutes, you’ll have a good picture of what the options open to you are, and how you can keep cosy this winter while keeping your energy bills under control.