Shutting down hot water boilers: France saves a lot of electricity

For six weeks now, the boilers of 4.3 million customers in France have not been able to heat hot water between 12:00 and 14:00. The controversial measure is extremely effective.

Thermal image of a woman taking a shower: The water in the boiler stays warm long enough for a hot shower even when it is turned off.

Marius Schwarz / imago


In France, an energy-saving uproar has been sparked by the announcement that hot-water boilers will be switched off in millions of homes when electricity consumption is high. The measure has now turned out to be a great success, according to the electricity network operator Enedis, according to the newspaper “Le Parisien”.

For a month and a half, the boilers of 4.3 million mostly private customers do not heat hot water between 12:00 and 14:00. According to Enedis, this would save 2.4 gigawatts of power, which is equivalent to the power of two nuclear power plants or the consumption of 2.4 million people. In the crisis winter, the measure could help avoid power outages. 26 of France’s 56 nuclear plants are currently offline for maintenance and repairs, with concerns that there may not be enough power at peak times.

The savings measure affects anyone who already had an automatic electricity meter, known as “Lines”, installed and has an electricity contract with different tariffs for off-peak and peak times. It is then not possible to produce hot water between 12:00 and 14:00. However, since there is a large supply of hot water in the boiler, it usually does not mean that there will be no hot water at that time. However, the boiler heats new water only the following night, when energy consumption is low. The measure should last until mid-April.

The “Linky” electricity meter not only transmits consumption data, but can remotely receive a command so that the hot water tank does not heat up at certain times. So far, there have been few complaints since the measure began, Enedis said.

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