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Heures Pleines / Heures Creuses in France: Prices, Times and Advice

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heures-pleines-creuses

Whether you live in France, are planning to move to France or own a secondary home there, you may want to become familiar with the way the French energy system works - including the heures pleines / heures creuses option. Find out all about this tariffication option, how much it costs and whether or not it is worth considering.

How does the heures pleines / heures creuses option work?

heures-pleines-creuses

The "heures pleines / heures creuses" (also abreviated HPHC), translated as "peak hours / off-peak hours", is one of the tariffication systems for electricity in France.

The way the HPHC option works is that the price of each kWh you consume will depend on the time of day, as there is one price set during the "heures pleines" and one, cheaper one, set during the "heures creuses". Peak hours are span over 16 hours - generally during daytime - meanwhile the off-peak hours occur during the 8 remaining hours, usually in the evening.

Note that this peak / off-peak system it is not available for gas in France.

How are the heures pleines and heures creuses determined?

The HPHC schedules are fixed by ENEDIS (the distribution network manager), and vary from one region and one to another.

Different timing configurations exist. Essentially, the off-peak period can be set for instance as a 8-hour block (setting 1), or in other situations it can be split up in 2 smaller periods, for instance a 4-hour block at night and a 4-hour block in the afternoon (setting 2).

You can find the most common HPHC setups below:

The heures creuses and the heures pleines settings
Setting 1: heures creuses set at night only Setting 2: heures creuses split between night and afternoon
Night Afternoon
10pm-6am Midnight-6am 12pm-1.30pm
10:30pm-6:30am 1am-7am 1pm-4pm
11pm-7am 1:30am-7:30am 2pm-5pm
11:30pm-7:30am 2am-8am X
Midnight-8am X X

The goal behind this tariffication setup is the encourage consumers to shift their consumption hours later or earlier in the day, to quieter times , in order to smooth out electric consumption on a regional and national level. The network manager plans this according to demand and production of electricity, in order to determine the peak / off peak timings to put in place.

Heures pleines / heures creuses: the pros and cons

As with all systems of tariffications for electricity, the French peak / off-peak system comes with both pros and cons. The table below summarises these, to help you determine whether this option will be suited and beneficial to you and your situation.

The pros and cons of the day / night tariff system
Pros Cons
  • An advantageous price per kWh during the heures creuses
  • The possibility to set electrical devices (such as a water heater, a washing machine or dishwasher) to function only during evenings
  • It's even more beneficial for large consumption levels, such as for families using electricity for heating in an over 80m2 home
  • You can save even more with this option by switching from the EDF regulated tariffs to another provider
  • A disadvantageous price per kWh during the heures pleines
  • To save money, you will have to plan to consume most of your electricity during the evenings or overnight
  • The monthly subscription is more expensive than for the Base option
  • It isn't very beneficial for small consumptions, such as for students in studios
  • Switching from a Base meter to a HPHC meter is charged €  by ENEDIS (unless you have a Linky meter).

How do I know if I am already subscribed to the HPHC option?

To find out whether you are paying your electricity according the to the peak / off-peak system, you can refer to the following methods:

  • Your electric meter: if you have a digital counter, scroll down till you see information about HPHC. If you have an old meter, look at the number of dials on which the number turns: if there are 2, one indicates the HP (peak hours) reading, the other shows the HC (off-peak). If there is only one dial, then this means your meter is set to the Base option.
  • Your electricity bill: look on the back of any of your bills, in the "Caractéristiques de votre facture" section. You will find the mention of the tariff option, either named BASE or HPHC.
  • Your meter reading: either there is only one series of numbers and the counter set to the Base system, or there are two series of digits and in this case one corresponds to the peak hours and the other to the off-peak hours.

You will be able to find the precise HPHC timings that apply to your home by referring to your electricity bills, which are mentioned in the "Caractéristiques de votre profil" section.

Some words to look out to, in particular:

  • "Option Heures Pleines / Heures Creuses": this will be stated clearly on your bill, it confirms this is your tariffication option.
  • "Prix du kWh en HP / Prix du kWh en HC": the price of every kWh for peak and off-peak hours
  • "Consommation heures pleines / Consommation heures creuses": how much energy you consume in peak / off-peak hours
  • "Puissance en HP / Puissance en HC": the power meter in peak / off-peak hours

These timings are definite and you cannot personally change them. If you have a classic meter (electromechanical or electric), timings will vary from one town to another or even from one house to another, depending on how the network manager decides. You can actually find out what the peak and off-peak hours are in your specific village or city on this Heures Creuses per city list. If on the contrary you own a Linky meter, timings are given out to consumers at random.

How much will I pay for electricity with the peak / off-peak system?

Here are some examples of HPHC offers compared, to give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay for your electricity consumption:

Comparison between EDF and Direct Energie with the HPHC option (2019)
  Direct Energie
Direct Energie Online
EDF
EDF Regulated Tariffs
Subscription Same as the regulated tariffs Regulated tariffs
Price of each kWh during peak hours    
Price of each kWh during off-peak hours    
Other characteristics - % (before tax) compared to the EDF regulated tariffs
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It's good to know that switching from one energy supplier to another is always completely free and doesn't require any kind of intervention or power outage. The process is very easy and can be completed in just one phone call.

Switch now and get cheaper electricity!To get help with finding the heures pleines / heures creuses option and provider that will suit both your needs and budget, call one our Selectra English-speaking advisors at 09 87 67 37 93, or get a free callback.

Will the heures pleines / heures creuses option save me money?

For people with the Base option wondering if it would be interesting to switch to the HPHC option, the following information must be taken into account:

  • During off-peak hours, the price of each kWh of electricity is on average 25% cheaper than with the Base option
  • During peak hours, the price of each kWh of electricity is on average 10% more expensive than with the Base option
  • The monthly price of a subscription to the HPHC option is around 20% higher than with the Base option

It may be worth proceeding to an estimate of your consumption and the times at which you consume electricity. Then, using the price of each kWh of electricity, you can calculate the total monthly price you'd pay with both options. It is generally considered that for the HPHC option to become attractive, it is necessary to consume approximately 45% of your electricity during the dedicated off-peak periods.

You can also refer to the table below, which shows you exactly from what point the HPHC option becomes profitable:

Comparison of electricity bills for HPHC and Base options per provider
Percentage of off-peak hours in total consumption Annual bill with the Base option Annual bill with the HPHC option
Direct Energie EDF Direct Energie EDF
0 % 742 € 793 € 809 € 865 €
5 % 801 € 857 €
10 % 794 € 849 €
15 % 787 € 841 €
20 % 779 € 833 €
25 % 772 € 824 €
30 % 765 € 816 €
35 % 757 € 808 €
40 % 750 € 800 €
45 % 793 € 743 € 792 €
50 % 742 € 735 € 784 €
55 % 728 € 775 €
60 % 721 € 767 €
65 % 713 € 759 €
70 % 706 € 751 €
75 % 699 € 743 €
80 % 691 € 735 €
85 % 684 € 727 €
90 % 677 € 718 €
95 % 669 € 710 €
100 % 662 € 702 €

How can I subscribe to the heures pleines / heures creuses system?

If you wish to subscribe to the heures pleines / heures creuses option, here is how to proceeed:

  1. Contact your electricity provider's Customer Service
  2. Your provider will then contact ENEDIS, the network manager, to arrange an intervention date and time window
  3. A technician will then intervene in your house of apartment to either change the tariffication setting on your meter, or change your meter itself if necessary
  4. This intervention will be charged €55.33 (all taxes included) by ENEDIS - unless you have a Linky meter - and will be processed by your provider. The prices are the same for all French residents and regardless of your energy supplier.

If in reverse you want to switch from the HPHC system back to a Base tariffication, you can use the exact same process described right above. Note, however, that your meter power has to be higher than 3 kVA in order to be able to do this.

What about the heures pleines / heures creuses with a Linky?

linky

The smart meter, also known as Linky in France, directly communicates your consumption of electricity to your provider. Upon installation of the device, if the previous meter was set in HPHC, then the new Linky will also be set this way. The off-peak period will also remain the same.

Some providers have HPHC offers tailored to households with a Linky meter, such as the following:

  • Direct Énergie offers "super off-peak hours" which last 4 hours per day and for extremely low rates
  • Engie, with its Elec Weekend, with off-peak tariffs at night from 11pm to 7am and during weekends.
  • EDF's offre Vert Electrique Weekend is available only for users who already have double tariffication and a Linky meter
  • Finally, Ohm Energie has an HPHC offer with conditions similar to those mentioned above