Immediately after buying a property you should arrange for the meter to be read, the contract (e.g. electricity, gas or water) to be registered in your name and the service switched on.
At RMR this is part of the service we have agreed with the team of Lawyers who work hand in hand with us so when the property completes the lawyers will arrange that all the utility supplies are changed into your name as the new owner of the property.
Spain’s main electricity companies include Grupo Endesa (the largest), Iberdrola, Union Fenosa and Hidrocantábrico. In January 2003, the energy market was completely liberalised and clients can, in theory, now choose which company provides their electricity. In practice, however, in many areas there’s still only one company providing electricity.
Remote areas you must install a generator if you want electricity, as there’s no mains electricity, although some people make do with gas and oil lamps. In many urbanisations, water is provided by electric pump and, therefore, if your electricity supply is cut off, so is your water supply . If you buy a rural property (finca rústica), there are usually public guarantees of services such as electricity. However, you may be obliged to pay for the installation of electricity lines or transformers plus the connection to your property if the mains services don’t run near your home.
Mains gas is available only in major cities, although with the recent piping of gas from North Africa (Algeria and Libya) it may soon be more widely available.
As with electricity, you’re billed every two months and bills include VAT at 16 per cent. Like all utility bills, gas bills can be paid by direct debit from a Spanish bank account. In rural areas, bottled gas is used and costs less than half that of mains gas in most northern European countries. You can have a combined gas hot-water and heating system (providing background heat) installed, which is relatively inexpensive to install and cheap to run. In most areas of Spain, gas bottles (bombonas) are delivered to homes by Repsol Butano, for which a contract is required. You must pay a deposit of around €25 and an exchange 12.5kg bottle costs around €12.50 (the price fluctuates frequently) when delivered to your home or less if purchased directly from a Butano depot.
Water, or rather the lack of it, is a major concern in Spain and the price paid for all those sunny days. Spain as a whole has sufficient water, but it isn’t distributed evenly. There’s (usually) surplus rainfall in the north-west and centre and a deficiency along most of the Mediterranean coast and in the Balearic and Canary islands.
In the Canaries, there’s a permanent water shortage and most drinking water is provided by desalination plants, while in the Balearics 20,000 wells are employed to pump water to the surface (there are also desalination plants in Majorca and Ibiza). Three large desalination plants are located in Almería, Marbella and Murcia.
Every year parts of southern Spain faces drought and in 2006, much of the country was critically short of water. Water shortages are exacerbated by poor infrastructure and wastage due to poor irrigation methods.
There’s also surprisingly little emphasis on water conservation, particularly considering the frequent droughts.
The Costa del Sol uses double the national average per person (500 litres a day), and people in towns and cities consume some 300 litres of water per person, per day, one of the highest figures in Europe.
The majority of dial-up ISPs (Internet Service Providers) offer three types of access:
The cost for a basic ADSL or cable modem service starts around €30-40 euros per month. Besides the monthly fee, providers often charge for the signup ( cuota de alta), for the installation and for the device itself (if one is needed).
However, in an attempt to attract customers, some operators will either waive or reduce the cost of those items - look out for special offers.
Unlike dial-up, high-speed access usually requires a contract of one year. In general, early termination of a contract involves stiff penalties, so be sure to read it thoroughly before you sign on the dotted line.