Setting Up Your Household Utilities in Spain

Once it’s time to move into your new home or apartment in Spain, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up all of your household utilities.

Some Spanish rental properties will offer certain utilities included in the rent. In this case, those utilities will already be set up by the property owner. However, this depends on the type of rental and the landlord.

Since it’s always better to know before you go, we’ve created this guide to setting up your household utilities in Spain once you’ve arrived at your new home.

The first thing you need to know about utilities in Spain is that the process of setting them up works a bit differently compared to other countries.

The primary utilities you’ll need to think about include:

  • Waste disposal
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas

Here’s everything you need to know about each utility, including how to register, the companies that offer them, and how to pay:

Waste Disposal in Spain

Waste disposal in Spain is usually handled at the municipal level. Most municipalities will charge an annual fee for waste collection, and those fees vary depending on where in Spain you live.

Waste disposal costs are also typically reduced for low-income individuals, such as the unemployed, government workers, and the elderly.

Additionally, Spain does have the same type of program for reciclaje (recycling) for municipal waste like some other European countries. However, there have been some significant improvements over the past few years leading most municipalities to start recycling glass, paper, aluminum, cardboard, cans, plastic, batteries, and other materials. Of course, collection points for these items will also vary by area.

You’ll also find that many municipalities recycle garden waste to be sold as compost. Some municipalities offer published information with directions on when and where to bring your recycling and household bulk and garbage.

The services regarding waste disposal, in general, vary by municipality. Some will offer large-capacity containers for recycling that are coordinated by color to rubbish type, and most big cities have frequent garbage collection.

Electricity in Spain

Spain has a handful of primary electricity companies, including Grupo Endesa, Iberdrola, Union Fenosa, and Hidrocantábrico.

Ever since 2003, the country’s energy market has been 100% liberalized, enabling consumers to choose which company they want to provide their electricity. However, in the less populous areas, there’ll still only be one company available.

Here are some of the companies that provide electricity throughout the country:

Just remember, if you’re not living in one of the more popular cities, you may not have all of these companies available to you.

electricity

Getting Your Electricity Connected

If your utilities aren’t already included, you’ll need to set up your electricity as soon as you can.

If the home or apartment electricity is already live, you’ll need to contact the local distributor—who is different from the supply company as they are assigned by the area—and they will provide you with the list of suppliers in the area. From there you can choose to remain with the supplier that’s already connected or switch to a new one. 

If you need your electricity to be connected, a technician from the local distribution company will come and install a supply capacity controller and connect your electricity.

If you’ve purchased a home in Spain, your real estate agent can arrange for the utilities to be put in your name or accompany you to the municipal offices.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be charged for this service. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure that all the previous electricity bills were paid before the contract is put in your name.

The Cost of Electricity in Spain

Most of the rates and fees for electricity in Spain are fixed, regardless of the distributor, supplier, or area.

In general, electricity costs in Spain include:

  • The main connection charge to the grid: €10
  • Access and extension connection charges
  • Inspection fees: €8
  • A security deposit that’s equal to the monthly billing amount for 50 hours of use of the contracted power (theoretically)
  • Meter costs (Spain is in the process of installing smart meters in every home. The installation is free but you’ll need to purchase the actual meter or pay rental costs towards it)

If you purchase a community property, the cost of electricity connection will be included in the price of the property. In this case, it would be illegal for a developer to charge you extra for this. 

Choosing an Electricity Supplier in Spain

As mentioned above, you can either keep the same supplier (if the electricity is still live) or switch to a new one. Either way, choosing an electricity supplier is a straightforward process.

All you need to do is contact the supplier and give them the details of whoever is responsible for paying the bill—which would be you.

The following is the information they’ll need from you:

  • Your name, NIE number, and contact details
  • The property address
  • Your bank account details (for the bill pay)
  • The alphanumeric code on the electricity bill, known as the Unified Supply Point Code (CUPS)—if switching suppliers
  • Your electricity installation certificate

The Spanish Power Supply and Electricity Tariffs

As you probably already know, the power supply voltage used in European countries is different than in America, Africa, and elsewhere. Most of Spain has an electricity supply of 220 volts AC with a frequency of 50 hertz/cycles. Some areas do have a 110 volt supply and some areas offer dual voltage.

However, it’s not something you should count on.

Additionally, Spanish homes and apartments aren’t equipped with the same amount of electrical outlets as you’ll find in the states or Canada. Therefore, you’ll likely need multi-plug adapters or new enchufes (plugs).

Gas in Spain

All major cities in Spain offer mains gas, which may become more widely available in the near future with the gas piping from Algeria to Libya.

When moving to a property that has mains gas, you’ll need to contact the local gas distributor so they can switch the gas on, read the meter, and get you registered as the contract account holder.

The entire process for gas connection works much like the process for turning on your electricity. For example, each area has a primary distributor and several suppliers to choose from. Many of the distributors offer joint tariffs between electricity and gas, so you’ll want to ask about these as well.

The main gas supply companies in Spain include:

In the more rural areas, you’ll find that bottled calor gas is used, which is much cheaper than main gas. The gas appliances that use bottled calor gas include heaters, cookers, and boilers. The main providers that distribute the bottles are Repsol Butano and Cepsa.

Since 2008, it has been a legal requirement to have all gas appliances inspected and serviced once a year in Spain. If you have a contract with a bottled calor gas supplier, either they will take care of this for you or the local distributor will.

Be prepared to pay an inspection/service fee between €60 and €70. Be aware of fraudulent representatives calling unannounced to come and inspect your appliances. They’ll usually claim they’re from one of the major companies and charge you an exorbitant fee upfront.

To avoid getting scammed, make sure to check with your gas supplier for details on your inspection date.

Water in Spain

The water quality in Spain and its availability are near-universal at 99.5% with the tap water being safe to drink. The southern region of Spain does experience frequent droughts, so there may be some water consumption restrictions in certain municipalities.

When it comes to water suppliers in the country, Spain operates as a mixed market. Water provision depends on the municipalities, with over half being public and about a third being private. The remainder makes up for the mixed market of both public and private entities.

The primary private water suppliers are Aguas de Barcelona (Agbar) and Aqualia. The primary public water company is the Canal de Isabel II, which supplies Madrid’s Autonomous Community.

Getting Your Water Connected and Registered in Spain

As a self-employee, you’ll be required to pay social security contributions.

Paying social security contributions allows you to receive health care, and after 15 years, a pension (very little). You can choose to pay more than the minimum amount if you’re working towards a higher pension or make higher contributions so you’ll receive more coverage for accidents or sickness.

Regardless of your earnings, if you don’t make these contributions you’ll end up getting fined.

Spanish Water Costs

The average tariff for water and sanitation in Spain costs about €1.50/m3. This varies by region, for example, large cities like Barcelona see average monthly costs between €20 and €25 for small families.

Most municipalities will charge either a quarterly or monthly fee for canon de consumo (minimum consumption) regardless of use. Areas with private suppliers may see higher water rates, especially for vacation homeowners.

You’ll also notice that your water bill will include sewage and other services such as refuse collection, depending on where you live.

You can pay your water bill monthly or quarterly, but you’ll want to keep an eye on it to ensure that you’re not being overcharged. To reduce your water costs, it’s a good idea to purchase and install a water saver, which can be found in several stores, including El Corte Inglés and Hipercor stores. 

Hot Water in Spain

Many apartments and rentals in Spain come with a central heating source for the water in the entire building. Some apartments may have their own individual water heaters, but it depends on the area you’re living in and how old the building is.

You can also opt to install your own water heater, which means you’d have to choose between electric and bottled gas heaters. An electric heater with a minimum-needed capacity of 75 liters (which is sufficient for two people) will cost you between €150 and €300.

Direct Debit for Utilities in Spain

There are several ways to pay your bills in Spain, but the most efficient way is by direct debit or transferencia.

Direct debit for your utilities in Spain is arranged by linking your Spanish bank account to your utility accounts—which will likely have to be done separately since each utility company is different.

If you own a vacation home in Spain, you can set up your bills to be sent to your primary address abroad while still paying via direct debit.

If you don’t want to use direct debit, you can pay your utility bills at your local post office, bank, or the utility company’s office. Just be sure to keep an eye on what you’re being charged for to ensure there aren’t extra unnecessary charges for what you’re not using.

Getting all of your utilities registered and connected should be the first thing on your list once you move to your new place in Spain. Just make sure to inquire about things like minimum usage, current tariffs, and of course, whether or not the previous owner has paid their utility bills in full.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for ways to save energy, gas, and water, for the sake of your bills and the environment.

Whether you’re moving into a home or an apartment in Spain, we can advise you on setting up your utilities as well as anything else related to your relocation. Contact us today to learn more about our team of relocation specialists and how we can help you with your move abroad.