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Inflation hack: what time should I use the washing machine in Spain?

With utility bills skyrocketing against the backdrop of rising inflation, many Spaniards are sacrificing on home comforts from air-conditioning to the washing machine. But at what time of day is it cheapest to use the washing machine in Spain?

Inflation hack: what time should I use the washing machine in Spain?
Photo: Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

Like countries across Europe and the world, the Spanish economy is suffering with high inflation and Spaniards are feeling the financial strain, especially as the country continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, things have gotten so bad that the Spanish Consumer Price Index (CPI) – the instrument used to measure inflation – rose by 10.2 percent year-on-year in June, the first time it has broken the 10 percent threshold since April 1985, according to data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE).

The prices of anything and everything from fruit and eggs to olive oil and petrol have jumped up, and the increases have been particularly pronounced in fuel and utility costs due to the double-pronged pressures of inflation combined with global fuel prices rising as a byproduct of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

READ ALSO: The food products that are more expensive than ever in Spain

But bills were rising even before the war, and by October of 2021, electricity bills in Spain were already sixty-three percent higher than the previous year, according to statistics from Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE).

Although the Spanish government has made efforts to soften the effects of crippling energy cost rises, cutting VAT on electricity bills in half recently, for example, the growing bills Spaniards now face have led many to become more resourceful, and careful, about when they use high energy electrical appliances at home.

READ ALSO: Spain to cut electricity tax by half to ease inflation pain

The washing machine is well known as an appliance that uses a lot of electricity and takes a long time. With bills skyrocketing, and the price of electricity on the wholesale market exceeding €200 per megawatt hour (MWh), rising to €300/MWh during peak hours of the day, many Spaniards have taken to using their washing machines at times of the day that offer the cheaper tariffs. 

You may have heard from friends that it’s cheaper to wash your clothes in the middle of the night, or at lunch time. But when is it actually best to use the washing machine in Spain, and how much can it save you?

The Local explains all.

Timetable

You may think all this sounds a bit silly, but the volatility of energy markets in recent months means that there are huge differences in the price of electricity depending on the time of day that you use it.

According to data from Red Eléctrica, the partly state-owned corporation which operates Spain’s national grid, the differences in the price of kilowatt hour (kWh) can be up to 20 cents depending on when exactly you use it.

The graphic below visualises the hora punta (peak time) in red, the hora llana (flat time) in yellow, and hora valle (off-peak) in green, to help you better understand when the cheapest and most expensive times of the day are.

A breakdown of the different time slots during the week. Photo: RTVE.es

From Monday to Friday, the cheapest time to use the washing machine is during the flat and off-peak slots. It may not be ideal, but by putting the washing machine on during the night, from 00:00 to 8:00 (off-peak), or in the morning, from 8:00 to 10:00 (flat), the kWh price can be significantly lower than during peak hour.

Similarly, another good time to use the washing machine, and perhaps the most convenient without being too costly, is after lunch from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m during another flat-rate session.

Fortunately, weekends and holidays correspond uninterruptedly with the off-peak time slot and there is, as a result, very little variation in prices depending on the time of day you use the machine, so you can wash your clothes at the weekend with worrying about racking up a huge bill.

The three energy periods, which you can also use to calculate usage for other electrical products, not just the washing machine:

Horas punta – peak hours (most expensive): 10-14:00h and 18-22:00h on weekdays.

Horas valle – off-peak (cheapest): 00-8:00h on weekdays; 24h on weekends and national holidays.

Horas llana flat rate (intermediate tariff): From 8-10h14-18h and 22-24h on weekdays.

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MONEY

What’s the maximum amount you should have in a current bank account in Spain?

Most people in Spain only have one bank account and use it for all different purposes, but what happens when you manage to save up a bit? Here's the official advice on Spanish savings accounts.

What’s the maximum amount you should have in a current bank account in Spain?

Our bank accounts are used for many day-to-day activities such as paying bills, receiving paychecks and buying groceries, but is there a maximum amount of money you should have in your account at one time? And what should you do if you go over this amount?

While there isn’t an official maximum amount that you should have in your current account, the Organisation of Users and Consumers (OCU) advises that your current account only be used for certain amounts and everything over that should be put into different accounts.

According to the OCU, in your main bank account, where you receive your salary, pension or other significant payments, you should have a maximum of three months of your salary.

So for example, if you earn the minimum wage of €1,000 per month in Spain, then the maximum you should have in your current account is €3,000.

READ ALSO – Ask the expert: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

They advise that you don’t want to go too much under this amount either because you want to make sure you have accessible cash to use when you need it, as well as for possible emergencies. They also suggest checking your account balance regularly to make sure you don’t go into the red and don’t incur extra bank fees.

But equally, you don’t want to have too much in your account and keep all your savings in one place for security reasons.

Savings accounts

The OCU recommends opening a savings account or cuenta ahorro for any amounts greater than three times your salary, rather than keeping it all together in your current account.

Most banks have various types of savings accounts with different interest rates and different fixed terms where you’ll have to keep your money in for a certain amount of time.

For money you’ll need in the short term, but not right away, the OCU suggests putting it into a fixed-rate savings account (cuenta ahorro plazo fijo) for 12 months, but warn that if you need the money before the year is out then you may have to pay fines take it out.

For money that you know you won’t need in the short term, the OCU advises putting it into a long-term investment or a fixed-rate savings account for longer than one year. “For amounts that you don’t plan on touching in the next five or ten years, it’s advisable to make a little profit on it, however, keep in mind there may be seasons in which you suffer some losses too”, they said.

Savings over €100,000

For anyone that has savings over €100,000 in any type of account, it’s important to distribute the amount over various accounts warn the OCU.

This is because during an economic collapse or bank failure, you will not be covered by the EU Deposit Guarantee Fund, which is only able to guarantee the repayment of your money up to €100,000.

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