How to get your energy check in France
Our article explains what you need to do to get the energy check, how much you’ll receive, and how you can use it.
5 min read
These days, many European countries are looking for ways to combat rising energy costs and encourage movement away from fossil fuels. Enter the energy check. Introduced by the French government, its goal is to help low-income households cope with rising heating costs each year, and to help finance green renovations. Our article explains what you need to do to get the energy check, how much you’ll receive, and how you can use it.
What is the energy check?
Energy checks were introduced by the French government in 2018 to replace social energy tariffs. Their purpose is to help low-income households reduce their electricity bill by paying part of their electricity, gas, fuel fees, and other utility bills—and to even finance eco renovation projects. With energy prices steadily rising—gas rates have jumped 15.8% since the beginning of 2019—this governmental financial support is part of the plan to combat fuel poverty.
In 2021, 5.8 million households received an energy check. This financial aid can be used to pay for the following:
- Energy and fuel bills, including electricity, gas, fuel oil, wood, etc.
- Heating bills for people living in CAF-approved housing
- Certain green renovations. It’s important to note that if you want to use the energy check for these expenses, the work must be done by an RGE-certified professional—or someone who is “recognized as a guarantor of the environment,” according to French law.
As an added perk, with the energy check, you won’t have to pay any electricity or natural gas service fees if you decide to move. Plus, deductions or discounts can be applied if you default on your bills. Lastly, the reduction of electrical power by companies is prohibited during the winter truce (from November 1 to March 31) for recipients of the checks.
Who can get the energy check?
The eligibility criteria for the energy check are based on tax income and household composition.
If you’re single, you can benefit from an energy check as long as your income tax reference doesn’t exceed €10,800. For multi-person households, eligibility and the check amount are determined using a per-consumption-unit calculation. The first person in a household represents one consumption unit (CU), the second 0.5 CU, and any subsequent person, 0.3 CU.
To find out if you’re entitled to the energy check, you’ll need to divide your year Y-2 income tax reference (so 2019 for the year 2021) by the number of consumption units in your household. You can also check out this government simulator to make things easier.
The Minister of Public Accounts recently announced that residents of France who heat their homes with wood will also be able to benefit from an income-contingent state subsidy ranging from €50 to €200, depending on their income.
Energy check and residence tax
Finally, to receive an energy check, your home must also be subject to residence tax, even if you as an individual are exempt from it.
How much will your energy check amount to?
In 2021, energy check amounts will total between €48 and €277. The amount you receive depends on your household’s taxable income and the number of people living there. The lower the income and the larger the household, the higher the check amount will be. However, on average, the energy check is around €150 per household.
This year, the government has introduced an advance of €100.
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How do you get an energy check?
No application is needed to receive an energy check, you’ll just need to make sure that you file your income tax each year. The department in charge of allocating this support receives your income tax return directly from the tax office and automatically allocates it to all households that meet the eligibility criteria. The energy checks are sent each year in April, either by post or via email.
How can you use your energy check?
Have you received your check, but don’t know how to use it? Here’s what you can spend it on:
- Pay your energy bills. You can send the check directly to your energy providers, if they accept it (find the list here). To do this, attach a document with your customer references and write your customer number on the back of the check. You can also deposit it directly online using the form available on the website for the Ministry of the Ecological Transition. It’s also possible to automatically assign future checks to a provider for future years.
- Finance your green renovations. Bear in mind that any renovations must have been completed by March 31 following the date the check was issued. If renovations are completed after this date, you can exchange your energy check for a work check, which will be valid for two years.
Keep in mind that the check can’t be used to pay any other bills, and it must all be spent at once.
The energy check is accepted by the following providers and organizations:
- Electricity and natural gas providers.
- Providers of LPG, heating oil, wood, and any other fuel used to produce heat
- Heating network operators
- Professionals “recognized as guarantors of the environment”
- APL-approved residential accommodation administrators
- Administrators of senior residences (Ehpad, etc.)
The energy voucher is just one of many measures introduced by the Government to help households carry out green renovations.
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