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Utilities in Portugal: setting up electricity, gas, and water

When you move into a new home, whether it’s somewhere you’ve rented or bought, you’ll most likely need to arrange utilities such as water, electricity, and, depending on whether the property has it, gas. 

It isn’t a major task, but you can sometimes get someone else to do it: 

  • If you’re renting, your landlord may be willing to arrange it (or help you with the process)
  • If you’re buying, your buyer’s agent (if you have one), lawyer, or the seller’s agent may be willing to help you. Some estate agents through in this service for free as one of their selling points
  • HomeInPortugal offers a service where its team set up your utilities for you.

Some utility companies will accept payment by IBAN, but most will want you to use the Multibanco system. If this is the case, you’ll need a Portuguese bank account. You’ll also need a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) which is also usually necessary for opening a bank account in Portugal. 

Tips:

  • If you’re a couple, consider putting different bills in each partner’s name so you both have proof of address.
  • You can pay by direct debit or do it manually via multibanco
  • Portuguese utility companies don’t have the best reputation in Portugal, particularly when it comes to canceling a contract, so be warned
  • You can submit meter readings online and this will help make sure your estimates are more accurate and you aren’t overcharged 

Arranging Electricity

Since Portugal is one of the most expensive European countries for electricity, it pays to shop around rather than just going straight to EDP (the main electricity company). There are several price comparison companies in Portugal that can help, such as: 

Most companies will offer a range of different tariffs. Some offer cheaper rates at certain times of the day, particularly at night, and they can make financial sense if you’re able to remember to run appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine during these hours. 

Another thing to consider is the electricity output. The cheapest tariffs often cut out if you run two or more high-powered electrical items at the same time (for example a hairdryer and the microwave). If you don’t want to spend your time constantly trying to find the fuse box in the darkness, simply phone up the electricity company and ask to be upgraded to a more suitable tariff. 

Gas

Not every home has gas, especially mains gas, but having gas can cut your cost of living as it’s much cheaper than electricity. Again, it’s a good idea to use the comparison websites mentioned to find the best deal. However, many companies, for example, EDP and Endesa both offer electricity and gas and electricity and many people find it easier just to sign up with one company. 

Some properties don’t have mains gas but use gas bottles. These bottles can be replaced at the supermarket or petrol station and some companies will deliver as well. 

Water

Unlike electricity and gas, where it’s normally possible to compare several different utility companies, there are usually only one or two water companies per region. Just ask your landlord or estate agent what the options are. 

Many people worry that Portuguese water isn’t drinkable, but don’t worry: it is. It can be hard in some parts of the country, however, and the taste can vary depending on the time of year. If your water ends up being hard or has too much chlorine, you could consider installing a BRITA tap, a reverse osmosis system, or a water softener. Alternatively, a simple Brita filter jug from Amazon should do the trick.

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