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ENERGY

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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ENERGY

Could sky-high energy prices force some ski resorts in Norway to remain closed?

High electricity prices and the prospect of power rationing could spell big trouble for Norway's smaller ski centres.

Could sky-high energy prices force some ski resorts in Norway to remain closed?

Record high energy prices mean some ski resorts in Norway are facing the prospect of staying shut this winter, business and financial newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports. 

“We constantly have to make an ongoing assessment of it, but in the worst case, we have to close the slope,” Knut Styrvold, chairman of the Kirkerudbakken ski centre in Bærum municipality, told the paper. 

Industry organisation Norwegian Alpine Resorts and Mountain Destinations sent a letter last week to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Minister of Culture calling for measures from the state to help businesses struggling with energy costs. 

Some of the highest costs for an alpine resort are artificial snow production, which requires large amounts of power. 

“In our area, with the prices that are predicted now, we are looking at a tenfold increase in power costs, perhaps more for the coming winter,” Odd Stensrud, deputy chairman of the industry organisation and general manager of Alpinco, which owns and operates the alpine resorts at Hafjell and Kvitfjell, told the paper. 

Larger resorts and firms should be able to manage as they have agreements where they pre-pay for energy in bulk, meaning they may not necessarily have paid current high prices for the energy they will use in snow production. However, the general manager of Alpinco added that larger resorts could still end up paying double what they paid last year. 

Support for smaller resorts, and the business community in general, have yet to be announced by the government. According to Stensrud, this means many resorts may opt against running the lifts this winter. 

“If the electricity prices that are signalled for the coming winter become a reality, then it is absolutely certain that it will mean the hook on the door for several locations,” he said. 

“It is important to remember that the alpine resorts are often the core business in many mountain destinations and local communities. They keep the other tourism activities going in mountain municipalities in Norway and are crucial to ensure that districts and municipalities are not hit too hard by electricity prices,” Strensud added. 

Earlier this week, Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said that the government and parliamentary leaders were “working closely to find a fair arrangement for business”. 

A plan for businesses is expected to be unveiled during the next month. 

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