Welcome to the Netherlands, a country as flat as a pancake, the largest beer exporter in Europe … where utilities are just as hard to wrap your head around as anywhere else in the world!
Your expat life needn’t kick off on a bitter tone – which is why we compiled this handy guide explaining to you how to sort out your utility bills. In it, you’ll find detailed instructions to securing the best gas and electricity deals, tips for switching to green energy, and information about water packages – and much more.
Finding a Flat
In a previous article, we already laid down the basics of finding a flat, including a handy list of the best websites. Thinking about consulting an estate agent? We can also point you to the most efficient and trustworthy ones – just get in touch here.
When considering various packages, you’ll want to think about the current condition of your property. Recently refurbished? In need of some refreshing touches? Or awaiting a proper renovation? This will influence the electricity and water usage – and so you should think about giving a go to Energialabel, the database ranking properties based on finer details – including how old the piping is, which direction the house is facing, etc. Keep in mind that there are a few companies which provide all the services in one package.
Easynuts was made for those of us too busy to deal with the mind-boggling details. The website offers various deals for electricity, water and gas combined – allowing you to pay less for the best available option.
Gas and Electricity
The energy market was privatized in 2004, allowing customers to choose whichever supplier they deem best for their purposes.
On top of that, you have companies ranging from Green Choice, Essent, Nuon, Oxxio, Energiedirect.nl, Budget Energie and NLE. Each of these offer deals on the gas and electricity provided by N.V. and Tennet. They cater to different consumer interests, and it’s worth conducting some research on which one might suit your situation the best. For instance, if you have a family of four, your needs might be completely different to a university student in their early twenties. Do spend time considering your options carefully – otherwise you risk spending more than necessary.
Sounds confusing? You might want to take a shortcut via the Easynuts website, which also allows you to compare deals – thereby radically reducing the time spent with research.
Once you make up your mind, you’ll have to give the customer service a call. They’ll open a new account for you. After this, you’ll have to provide details about the lodging, about your billing preferences (monthly, annually) and about whether there’s a meter (in which case, you’ll also have to mail them details about your consumption).
A few tips from the experts:
- Take a picture of the meter – if you have one – straight after moving in, and send it over to your provider. This way, you can avoid being charged for the previous tenants’ consumption.
- Another piece of information worth bearing in mind: the netbeheerder and the provider send separate bills – so don’t be alarmed if you find various ones in the post.
- Concerned about paying on time? Most companies allow you to set up direct debits online. Otherwise, you can also stick to the old-fashioned way, if that’s more convenient.
- Do choose a company that has English-speaking customer service. You’d be surprised about how many people forget about this tiny detail – which can lead to a lot of trouble in the long run.
- If your monthly bills come to a price higher than €100-€150, it might be worth to double-check if they are correct with the company.
- If something goes wrong – and your queries with the company aren’t resolved in a timely fashion – do get in touch with the national authority, the so-called De
Thinking of switching to green energy? No problem. The Dutch government invests a lot in this field, with a particular focus on renewable sources, including solar and water energy. You can also choose to install your own solar panels and water boilers, the latter of which will remain subsidized up until 2021. In other words: enjoy the sweet deals whilst they last.
Water suppliers cater to entire districts. Similarly to gas and electricity, you don’t have a say on what you get – only which company’s package you want to opt for. These include Waternet, Dunea, Evides, Vitens, and PWN.
A few pieces of advice:
- Don’t get surprised if you spot two, separate entries on your water bill. One should be a consumption charge based on the actual water usage, the other the municipal tax for maintenance services.
- Do indicate whether you’d like to pay monthly or annually – it can make the world’s difference.
- Do check if you have a meter – if so, you are responsible for communicating your consumption to the company.
- If your bills amount to higher than €150/year, it might be worth getting in touch with the company to double-check that everything is correct.
- Find yourself facing grave difficulties? Easynuts offers handy tips and detailed guidelines that might just be what you need. Thinking of switching to a combined deal? They can sort that out too.
Arranging utilities take a lot of time, energy and research. It can be frustrating to read website after website in search of the best deal, and chances are that you will miss crucial pieces of information that influence your judgment. This guide provides you with the basics to begin this rather complex, long-lasting process.