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How to beat high energy prices in Norway and save money on your electricity bill

Consumers in Norway are paying more money than ever for electricity. The Local has spoken to experts for their tips on saving money on your energy bills.

These are The Local's tips for consumers facing high energy bills.
These are The Local's tips for consumers facing high energy bills. Pictured are powerlines. Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Residents in Norway are paying more and more money for electricity.

According to data from Statistics Norway (SSB), Norwegian households paid an average of 117.2 øre/kWh for electricity (without fees and grid rent) in the year’s first quarter.

The average electricity price for the whole country in the first quarter of 2022 was 75 øre/kWh higher than the average for the same period in the last five years – and there are currently no indications that the increasing trend will reverse. 

However, there are significant regional differences, and those in the south typically pay more than in the north. 

“As you know, there are five electricity price zones in Norway, and there are extreme price differences between the north and the south. The electricity price in Northern Norway is pretty low, but the transmission capacity isn’t large enough, so all the excess hydropower can’t be sent to the south. 

“Therefore, the prices are a lot higher in the Oslo area, the Bergen area, and the southern market zones. These are connected to the UK and Germany by cables, so we see the influence of European prices feeding into Norwegian prices there,” Nathalie Gerl, the lead power analyst at Refinitiv, told The Local.

At the end of May, state-owned Statnett announced that the supply situation in Norway might be under strain – in some scenarios – all the way up to and through the winter, especially if Southern Norway experiences drier than usual weather in the second part of the year.

High prices have left consumers struggling despite government support. 

High prices led to the government introducing a temporary scheme that covered 55 percent of a consumer’s energy bill that surpassed 70 øre/kWh. Following pressure, the percentage of the bill the state picked up was raised to 80 percent. 

Despite the subsidy scheme, consumers in Norway are still feeling the pinch of high energy prices. 

“We have some people (in the group) who are now forced to choose between paying for electricity bills and medicines – that’s horrible. 

“Furthermore, many people who live in Norway don’t read or speak Norwegian. Many foreigners don’t know much about the electricity market in Norway, so they get higher prices and bad deals with companies. For example, their landlord tells them to call a certain company and get electricity, and they follow the advice because they don’t know better. 

“In the group, a lot of international citizens ask for help, and we try to help them save money on electricity,” Power expert and founder of Facebook group Prismatch Strøm, Mathias Nilsson, told The Local. 

Lawyer Olav Sylte manages the Facebook group Vi som krever billigere strøm (we who demand cheaper electricity), has said the current scheme isn’t working. 

“Today, the subsidy covers 80% of expenses over 70 øre/kWh in a month. From August, it will be 90%. However, that doesn’t help at all if the remaining 10% of the price turns out to be ten times more expensive than what people were paying before… We’re talking about extreme increases in prices,” Sylte said. 

How to save money on your electricity bills

Both Slyte and Nilsson shared some tips on how to save money on electricity in Norway, and we compiled a list of their advice – along with additional suggestions from power companies operating in the Norwegian market.

You can find these tips below:

1. Get to know your electricity invoice – and different offers on the market

According to Nilsson, many people in Norway get their electricity invoices sent to them automatically and electronically, and they don’t even bother to read them. The first step in formulating a plan is going through the invoice. After that, get informed on the options, prices, fees, and types of contracts available on the market.

2. Find contracts with no additional fees

Companies in Norway are now dropping fixed-price contracts because they’re too risky. In the last week, multiple companies have cut their fixed-price contract offer or priced these agreements well above market price. However, you can still find companies that don’t impose additional fees on you, so be sure to look for them. 

3. Find non-binding contracts, use apps to plan electricity use

There are electricity companies in Norway that offer non-binding contracts, Nilsson points out, such as Tibber, Elekt, and Nordkraft. Some of them also have apps that allow you to see electricity prices and daily price overviews. You can use this information to avoid high-priced periods of the day and, for example, do your laundry on days or hours in the day with lower prices. 

4. Price matching

If you get an offer from another electricity company, try contacting your company first and see if you can get the same price there. That way, you won’t need to change energy suppliers often. Several companies in Norway are willing to match prices (e.g., Fjordkraft, NorgesEnergi). 

5. Don’t commit to offers on the spot

Don’t get into contracts that are sold in person or over the phone. You will likely find cheaper options online. 

6. Consider using heat pumps

Nilsson states that heat pumps are very efficient. By using heat pumps, people can often obtain a noticeable reduction in energy expenditure compared to a heating system based on electricity or other types of heating. 

7. Changing personal habits 

You can save a lot of money by, for example, cutting your shower time. According to Sylte, indoor heating can also often be lowered (e.g., floor heating, guest rooms, and similar), especially during the summer months. 

8. Install a thermostat

Install a thermostat to control the heating of rooms and set up times when the temperature is lowered.

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Cost of living: Households in Norway choosing between food and energy bills

More households in Norway are struggling financially, and one in six has either cut back on food to pay energy bills or reduced electricity consumption to afford groceries, according to new research. 

Cost of living: Households in Norway choosing between food and energy bills

The financial security of homes in Norway has shrunk considerably, according to new research from the analysis institute Consumption Research Norway (SIFO). 

In August 2022, 130,000 households find themselves in serious financial difficulties, while 280,000 are struggling economically. The number of households having financial troubles has doubled since last year. 

“This is undoubtedly a bigger crisis than the one we saw during the corona pandemic,” SIFO researcher Christian Poppe told public broadcaster NRK. According to the analysis, 35 percent of homes were financially vulnerable, and just under 50 percent were stable. 

SIFO’s analysis has also found that consumers in Norway have to prioritise between food and electricity. One in six homes has either saved on food to pay for energy bills or cut back on electricity to cover the cost of groceries. 

Additionally, one in twelve have visited a food bank or received support from NAV to help pay for food. The research also found that some financially vulnerable households used savings to pay for food and energy. 

“This is not sustainable in the long term,” Poppe said of the current situation. 

Food Banks Norway (Matsentralen Norge) has also noticed an uptick in people struggling financially. 

“We are collecting more food than ever, but the need for food is increasing much more,” general manager Per Kristian Rålm said. 

Food Banks Norway said that it has distributed 32 percent more food this year and that queues are now being seen at centres all over the country, Norwegian newspaper VG recently reported. 

After energy prices, the cost of food was the next biggest worry for Norwegian households, according to a survey by Sparebank 1. Grocery bills in Norway have risen by 10.3 percent over the past year, figures from Statistics Norway show.

READ MORE: Six apps to help you save money on your food shopping in Norway