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Friday Briefing: How to cut your energy bill

Good morning and welcome to PORTUGAL DECODED. Summer is off, which means higher electricity bills are on. Here's your essential guide to beating the heat while keeping your bank account flush.


TALK OF THE TOWN



POLITICS

President Marcelo’s son testified at last (albeit remotely) before the parliamentary probe into the case of the Brazilian-Portuguese twins. And guess what? He refused to answer any questions (More).
Responding to a Chega’s call, hundreds of police officers turn up in Parliament yesterday to hear a tense debate on their work conditions. Earlier this week, PM Montenegro said that the Government will not put “one more cent” into its risk supplement proposals (More).

SOCIETY

A month after its migration plan came into force, the Finance Minister told the FT that the Government would reintroduce tax breaks for skilled foreigners. However, it turns out that it’s only an extension of the previous Government’s policies (More).
A police officer accused of beating up a woman – whose battered face spread on social media as a testimony to officers’ racism – was acquited by the Sintra court, while the woman was handed an eight-year suspended sentence (More).

ECONOMICS

The IMF said that Portugal made “a remarkable recovery from the successive shocks that have hit the global economy,” with growth exceeding the Eurozone average and inflation decelerating rapidly (More).
The Government approved a new 60 measure plan to boost the economy, including a proposal to lower the corporate tax rate by 2 percentage points a year over the next three years to 15% in 2027 from 21% now (More).

CULTURE AND SPORTS

The art world mourns two major artists: Manuel Cargaleiro, a painter and ceramist whose work addorns the Champs-Elysées Clémenceau metro station in Paris; and Fausto, a leading figure in the Portuguese folk music scene (More).
Portugal faces France tonight in the Euro2024 quarter-finals in a mouth-watering encounter, filled with superstars on both sides, yet both have struggled to impress – most especially in attack (More).

IN FOCUS



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DECODER

How to cut your energy bill?

The heat is (finally) on, which means that many people will feel tempted to turn the temperature on their ACs all the way down. While it’s understandable to want a comfortable environment to live in, it’s also important to remain conscious of how this will affect your electric bill. Even if it’s cheaper in Portugal than elsewhere in Europe at the moment, it’s still expensive. So, here’s five essential tips to keep your home as comfortably cool as possible while helping you manage summer bills:

1. Adjust the contracted power to your needs

While contracting a power below our needs can cause the switchboard in your house to switch off, it’s also not worth paying for a power above what we need. The lower the contracted power, the more you save at the end of the month, including on VAT. In Portuguese homes, the most common contracted power values are between 3.45 kVA and 6.9 kVA. This simulator (available in English) from the Energy Services Regulatory Authority (ERSE) can help you choose the contracted power level for electrical installations up to 10.35 kV.

2. Compare electricity companies

There are very substantial price differences between the largest electricity companies in Portugal. Comparing electricity tariffs involves analysing, among other things, the different types of consumption, the prices charged by the various operators and the discounts they offer. ERSE provides a simulator that does this comparison work. Whatever your situation, try to renegotiate prices with your own company first. Almost all companies will lower your bill if you threaten to change companies and show them that there are lower prices in the competition.

Comparison of electricy providers’s prices (cent/kWh) in July, via Contas Poupança

3. Consider changing your tariff

In Portugal, there are two types of tariff: fixed (where you know the price of a kWh and it’s the same all year round) and indexed (where the price varies up or down every month, depending on the price of electricity on the Iberian market). These latter tariffs were so advantageous in 2023 that some of them even paid consumers instead of charging them. However, this doesn’t mean that they are a safe bet. It all depends on each company’s policy (how they reacted to the ever-changing dynamics of the energy market) and on your willingness to constantly compare the price per kWh (and contracted power), and change if you find it cheaper.

4. Choose the best time cycle

Choosing the time cycle best suited to your consumption profile and changing your energy use habits can mean significant savings on your electricity bill. In Portugal, you can choose between three types of tariff associated with time cycles: 1) simple tariff (you pay the same price for electricity at all times of the day); 2) two-cycles tariff (you pay electricity at two different prices: peak and off-peak periods); 3) and three-cycles tariff (with three hourly consumption periods: peak, intermidiate and off-peak periods). ERSE also provides information on this subject and a simulator to help you find out your consumption profile, based on your home and equipment.

5. Follow best practices on energy-efficiency

  1. Switch off the light every time you leave a room (if you won’t be returning soon);

  2. Replace traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs;

  3. Turn down the temperature on your boiler or water heater;

  4. Switch off all the standby buttons on household appliances. Even when not in use, if the light is on, household appliances continue to consume energy;

  5. Choose appliances with more efficient energy labels (A). The initial investment may be higher, but in the long run the savings will pay off;

  6. Avoid opening and closing the fridge’s door too often. Make a habit of taking out or putting away everything you need at once;

  7. Don't put warm or lukewarm food in the fridge. You'll need to use more energy to cool them effectively;

  8. Avoid ice build-up in the freezer or cupboards to maintain greater energy efficiency;

  9. Avoid switching the iron on and off, by ironing as many items as possible at any one time.

  10. After charging your mobile phone or other devices, don't leave the chargers in the sockets. They continue to waste energy;

  11. Switch off the cooker or oven a few minutes early. The accumulated heat finishes cooking the food perfectly;

  12. Make sure all the windows and doors in your home are well insulated;

  13. Instead of using a tumble dryer, dry clothes outdoors when possible.


TIPS OF THE WEEK

Lisbon

Sunsets at the Castle

Follow in Ed Sheeran’s footsteps, who, last month, sang ‘Castle on the Hill’ at Lisbon’s Castelo de São Jorge, and take part in the 2024 edition of “Pôr do Sol no Castelo”. The concerts, which will take place on Fridays and Saturdays in July and August, start at 7pm. Admission is free (subject to capacity) and tickets must be picked up on the day of the show from 6pm (maximum 2 tickets per person). Here’s the program for the next weeks: João Pedro Coelho (with Bernardo Moreira and André Sousa Machado): July 12; João Lencastre “Dancing on Rail Tracks”: July 19; Miss Universe: July 26; Rocky Marsiano DJ set: August 9; RMA aka Rui Miguel Abreu DJ set: August 16; M3dusa DJ set: August 23; Umafricana aka Sandra Baldé DJ set: August 30.

Porto

Open House

Under the theme “50 Years Building Freedom”, Open House Porto returns for its ninth edition on July 6-7. This year, the event will open the doors to 65 public spaces built or intervened in over the last 50 years in the cities of Maia, Matosinhos, Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Among the architectural spaces that can be visited are the Porto City Hall, the Pasteleira Red Towers, the Faculty of Economics of the University of Porto, i3S - Institute for Research and Innovation in Health, Aldoar Cooperatives, Campo Alegre I University Residence, Casa da Música, among others. There will be three types of visit: unguided tours, tours accompanied by over 300 volunteers, and tours accompanied by the architect or a specialist. All visits and activities are free of charge and entry to most tours is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Águeda

AgitÁgueda art festival

The event that gives color to the entire city and to what is considered one of “the most beautiful streets in the world” by CNN, returns on July 8-28. The entire city is a giant open-air stage, the streets are full of color, animation, art installations and performances, involving the entire local community, promoting values, culture and good environmental practices and crafts, all free to enter. This year’s edition includes performances by Nininho Vaz Maia (6), Manu Chao (day 16), Plutonio (19), David Fonseca (20th), Quim Barreiros (25) and Ivandro (27). Time to see why this festival was the winner of the 2023 National Tourism Award, precisely in the Authentic Tourism category. More information here.

Amarante

MIMO 2024

Brazilian rapper Marcelo D2, Nigerian musician Femi Kuti and Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara are the highlights of this year’s edition of the festival, taking place in Amarante on July 19-21. Born in Brazil in 2004 and considered one of the biggest free cultural festivals, MIMO is once again taking place in Portugal. The festival grows with each edition and has already surpassed the extraordinary mark of 200,000 spectators, featuring over 4000 musicians, including Herbie Hancock, Gilberto Gil, Buena Vista Social Club, Amadou and Mariam, Madredeus, Elza Soares, Chucho Valdés, and many others. Admission is free.

Lagos

35th Confectionery Fair and Competition

This will be the 35th edition of an event packed with sweet treats and entertainment. From July 24-28, the Sweet Art Contest Fair, at the Lagos’ Sports Complex, regional confectionery takes pride of place, prepared with the mastery and passion of the confectioners from the city of Lagos. Concerts, roving entertainment, handicrafts, eateries, live cooking demonstrations and, of course, mountains of irresistible sweets! Admission is free.

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