Millions of families across Spain, including a good number of expats, have contracted mortgages with interest rate floor clauses (“cláusulas suelo”, as they are commonly called in Spain), which prevented them from taking advantage of the very low mortgage interest rates which have occurred due to the decline in the Euribor rates since the financial crisis started in 2008 (The Euribor is currently at 0,32%).
At the end of January 2014 beginning of 2014, Presidents of Urbanizations attended the Presidents Club at Urbytus. The event was well attended by Presidents from Mijas Costa, Alhuarin to Marbella.
On January 1st electricity prices went up and homeowners can expect to see a 3-6% increase on their bills. Given this price hike, home owners and community presidents are actively looking for ways to cut their consumption with the aim of reducing bills and lessening their impact on the environment.
As we told you last week, Endesa are rolling out Smart energy meters for all their clients, which means customers will be charged on their actual use every month rather than relying on estimations. The Smart meter also shows where the electricity is actually being used, so consumers can identify the most power-hungry items and you can learn to use these less, in a smarter way, or look for power-saving alternatives.
Here are a few tips for cutting electricity use and bills this year –
Invest in eco appliances where possible
Disconnect plugs which are not being used, phone chargers etc.
When replacing ovens try halogen, they are much more energy efficient than fan ovens
Clean all filters on tumble dryers, vacuums etc as blocked filters impair performance so you need to use it for longer
Use energy saving light bulbs and solar lighting outside
Keep heat in by drawing the curtains and using draft excluders
Don’t do half loads – fill dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers completely for less washes
Check whether your electricity costs less at different times of the day and adjust accordingly. For instance it may be cheaper to save all your washing until after 9pm at night if you’re on a day/night tariff
Around 6% of electric usage in the home is actually used by devices being left on standby so make sure you turn off at the mains
Investing in home solar panels could reduce your electric bill by up to 80%, they are likely to pay for themselves within 5 years, you could even sell back any energy you produce to the power company.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to reduce energy bills in your property and throughout your urbanization and share these useful tips with other owners via your community website.
There have been a few new EU directives brought into effect regarding saving energy (Directive 2006/32/EC and Directive 2009/72/EC and most recently Orden ITC/3860/2007. The Spanish supplier of electricity Endesa has sent letters to their clients to inform them that in order to comply with these regulations they will be putting in smart electricity meters which will allow homeowners to see where their energy is being used and help them to be proactive in reducing consumption.
The meter will also include a mains isolator which will trip a fuse if there is a power surge or similar, protecting equipment and homeowners. This will be installed with the new meter and activated immediately.
The process of changing the meters will take place over the next quarter and the good news is that because the meter is on the outside of the property there’s no need for you to be there. However, if the meter is located within the urbanization and access is required, then Endesa will contact the owner or the community president to arrange a convenient time.
Once the meter has been replaced you will receive a letter from them to confirm that it has been done and informing you that you can access the meter to learn more about how you are using your energy. This letter will include information on how to read the meter and of course, we’ll let you know what that says as soon as we receive it.
The installation of the new meter is free of charge but there is a monthly cost of hire of the equipment as before of 0.81 Euros a month which is simply added to your bill.
One big advantage of these new meters is that in the future bills will be based on monthly readings and will remove the normally inaccurate estimations which can cause you to be charged for more than you actually use.
If you need more information the Endesa website has good information about it, but in Spanish of course. Please feel free to ask us any questions and we’ll do our best to help.
In our next post we will be giving you tips for saving energy and the price rises which are on their way. Please communicate this important news with your community via a notice board, email or community website so they can understand the changes and save energy.
Have you lost any TV channels on your urbanization? As a community president in Spain you are probably fielding all the enquiries from the owners so we thought we’d give you an update you can share. As the president of my community, I have been lucky enough that through our community website, I’ve been able to update our owners and stop the spreading of large dishes across the community.
There has been much talk recently about the loss of certain UK TV channels such as 4HD, 4Seven and Channel 5 after many households across Spain stopped receiving them. A number of channels have moved from Astra 1N to Astra 2F with more channels due to make the move and to most this has come as a shock as they were unaware of any expected changes.
Other popular channels will be moving anytime between now and next summer and its said that if you have lost channel 5 now, then you will be very likely to lose all BBC, ITV channels and the remaining Channel 4 group including E4. However, until the channels actually make the move, it is uncertain what your current set-up will be able to receive.
What options have I got?
There are various companies offering solutions to this at the moment and many households on the Costa Blanca are being told to buy a bigger satellite dish in order to still pick up the channels. However on the Costa del Sol it’s still uncertain whether a bigger dish will even receive the channels after the move. So don’t rush out for a bigger satellite dish yet!
At the moment it seems the best advice would be to do nothing until more of the channels have made the move to the new satellite then you know exactly what you can still receive. Some people are being told they will lose all channels on the 16th December but it’s not certain which channels will be moving on that date, if any at all, however what is certain is that it will not be all of them.
The reception of the UK channels received in Spain from the new satellite is currently unknown so there is still a chance you could pick up some of the channels after the move. There is not enough space on the new satellite for all the channels to move at the same time either which is why two new satellites will be launched in 2013 and 2014 and the remaining channels will be moved over then, so rest assured that this process is likely to be gradual.
If you really miss the channels you have already lost then a solution at the moment would be IPTV which is television through your internet. Many companies are currently offering this as a solution but its worth baring in mind that it may not be the same quality you would be used to with HD channels and it relies on a strong internet connection. You can also watch UK television via filmon.com.
To be able to connect with owners on your urbanization and answer questions like this, a handy tool is an online community forum which is one of the features of our OCM community website.
The Spanish Tax Authority is now taking unpaid taxes direct from bank accounts. In 2011 they started with some Warning Letters, The tax authorities sent 300.000 letters to non resident property owners, informing them that there is no record of them paying their Non Resident taxes.
Malaga prides itself on being part of the International Project of Smart Cities and is ranked 1st in the top 5 smart cities in Spain. The key goals for Malaga Smart City are to reduce CO2 emissions, increase energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy to become a more sustainable city. The project includes energy efficiency solutions for the home and has benefited around 12,000 households since the launch in 2009.
A number of Spanish home owners have recently received a rather surprising phone call from their power suppliers claiming that they have an outstanding amount on the account (sometimes thousands) which needs to be paid immediately – failure to pay immediately will result in the power being cut off and the meter being removed.
Following a recent meeting at the council headquarters in Malaga, an agreement has been made to create a quick communication channel to inform foreign residents on the Costa del Sol in the case of an emergency. Diplomatic representatives from 16 different countries, including the United Kingdom, attended the meeting and will use the new channel from now on to deliver all useful information and updates to each country, directly from the consulates.