Switch off that light!

Learning to live with tarrif TEMPO



12/14/20222 min read

I am sure electric heaters and lights are being extinguished throughout Europe as we all take stock of accelerating energy costs. Not everyone will have to make the horrific choice between "heat or eat", but saving energy makes sense for all of us on two counts, not least of these is helping to save the planet.It is a chill, foggy day here in the South of France. But if you were to visit our home you would find not a single electric light blazing. That is beacause it is a 'Red Day.' I would of course offer you a hot drink. But the kettle would be placed on the gas ring to boil, while our electric kettle remains unplugged. And of course you will be able to warm up by our wood burning stove, even if our air source heaters remain off limit. But this winter time behaviour is nothing new to us. We have been doing this for the past twenty years, and we've learned to cope . The reason? We are on 'Tarif Tempo.'When we arrrived in France a friend told us of an excellent electricity tariff that offered favourable off peak rates. It sounded interesting, if a little complex, so we hastened to the local offices of the E.D.F. to change our tarif. In those days face to face contact had not yet been superseded by the internet. Alas , as was often to be the way , we were told ' ce n'est pas possible.' The tarif was not for us, so we went away. It took us some time to realise that this was how things often went in France . A preliminary enquiry nearly always solicited a negative response. We now realise that we should have stood our ground . On first refusal one should never retreat: just smile and shrug and begin a friendly conversation. Within minutes the situation will be reversed, and a charming assistant will be falling over their feet to offer you what had previously been refused. 'C'est comme ça.' A year later we applied again, and voila! Tarif Tempo became the order of the day.Unfortunately Tarif Tempo is rather complicated. There are three main bands , Red, White and Blue. Red offers electricity at a prodigiously expensive rate. There are 22 red days in each year, concentrated in times of exceptionally heavy energy usage in France, between November and March. There are 43 intermediate white days. The remaining 300 blue days offer electricity at an exceedingly favourable rate. But that is not all. Each day, be it red blue or white is divided into peak and off peak hours, which are charged accordingly. And how do we know what colour each day will be ? Years ago each customer had a little electronic box on which the relevant light would illuminate the day before. Nowadays we receive an e mail. Needless to say , with our influx of holiday guests every summer, this tarif has suited us very well. And as for winter, a cosy log fire and candle light are fine by me. However I do have to plan meals carefully to avoid using our electric oven. With prices like these it would seem that Tarif Tempo is a 'no brainer' if one has alternative acceptable ways to cook and keep warm. I have heard that other electricity supply companies are thinking of offering similar deals, while currently in France over 7,000 people are signing up for Tarif Tempo each week as compared to 100 a week last January.