Written by Laura Baranik
Ahhh, utilities. Gas and water and electricity. They´re not very exciting, but at some point during your time in Prague, you may actually need to pay for them – or have an argument with the landlord or the electricity company over how much you´re being asked to pay.
Depending on your rental agreement, you may have a utilities fee included in the rental price; in that case, your landlord will handle payments. If, however, you own your apartment or the utilities have been registered in your name, you´ll have to take care of paying the bills and probably a whole bunch of other details besides. Here, in the first of our series on utilities in Prague, is a primer on that accessing that all-important physical phenomenon: electricity.
How do I sign up for electricity/put my name on the bill/report a technical problem/etc?
The site www.spoluproprahu.cz has a great deal of advice and technical information in English about all utilities services in Prague, including how to sign up for service, how to troubleshoot a broken meter, and payment methods (at the moment, however, many of their online forms seem to be unavailable).
The company that runs the electricity in Prague and Roztoky is called Pražská energetika, a.s., and they seem to be quite customer-service-friendly. If you need to speak with someone directly, PRE has several customer centers, in Pragues 1, 4, and 9. Your best bet is the Prague 1 center if you require English-language service. Its address is:
Pražská energetika, a.s.
Prague 1 – Nové Město
Mon – Thursday 9:00 – 18:00
Friday 9:00 – 12:00
They also have a call center (267 055 555) available Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 19:00, and a customer service email address, email@example.com. All of these should be able to help you with specific requests regarding service and technical issues.
How often will my meter be checked?
Your electricity meter is inspected once ever four months to determine how much you´ve used. If you live in an apartment building, there will be notices posted in the hallway a few days before the inspector comes. Your bill will also indicate on the bottom left-hand corner of the first page under Zpráva pro zákazníka the estimated date of the next inspection.
How do I know which plan to choose?
PRE has six different payment plans. Choosing the one best for you depends on the kind of electricity usage you have in your home. If your home has an electrical heating system, the amount you pay will be calculated based on two different tariffs: the high tariff (vysoký tarif) is implemented during peak hours and is mostly for standard electricity usage, and the low tariff (nízký tarif) is used at off-times and generally applies to electrical heating. The home´s accumulator or storage heater is set to automatically store up heat energy at night when the tariff is low. By encouraging consumers to use more energy at off-hours, the electrical company can curb heavy electricity consumption during times of high demand. Essential to picking a plan is knowing what kind of heating system you have. For some, you will also need to choose between a high or low distribution rate (distribuční sazba), depending on the amount of electricity you use.
· Komfort Klasik 24 is best for homes that consume electricity only for ordinary consumption and do not use electricity for heat or hot water. The difference between this and the other plans is that there is no low tariff – all the rates are the same, regardless of time of day. Distribution rate D01d is best for one- to two-person homes that don´t have appliances with high energy consumption rates, like dishwashers, large fridges, and clothes dryers. Otherwise, choose rate D02d.
· Komfort AKU 8 offers a more advantageous price rate for homes with electric accumulators for heat and hot water. For 8 hours per day during off-peak hours, all of the home´s electricity is run on the low tariff. Choose distribution rate D25d if you only have an electrical boiler (water heater in the U.S.) or a small storage heater, or choose rate D26d if you heat water with an electrical boiler and have storage heaters in multiple rooms.
· Komfort Kombi 16 is designed for homes with a hybrid or combined heating system composed of both an electrical accumulator and electrical boilers/space heaters. For 16 hours every day, the entire home is fed by low-tariff electricity. This plan comes with only one distribution rate (D35d).
· Komfort Přímotop is ideal for homes heated exclusively by space heaters or an electrical boiler. For 20 hours each day, your home will only use low-tariff electricity. This plan offers only one distribution rate (D45d).
· Komfort TČ 22 is for households that use a heat pump. The home is heated on the low-tariff rate for 22 hours a day. If your heat pump was put into service before March 31, 2005, use distribution rate D55d. If it was put into service afterwards, choose distribution rate D56d.
· Komfort Víkend is designed for cottages and other homes that are occupied mostly seasonally and on weekends. This plan has only one distribution rate (D61d).
· Made in PREKO is an environmental initiative designed to help further the production of electrical energy from renewable resources. It is used in combination with one of the plans above. By signing up for PREKO, you agree to pay a surcharge of 0.10 CZK per kWh. The money goes towards purchasing electricity from renewable resources and supporting various sustainable energy projects. You can apply in person in any PRE customer center or over the phone using the PRE call center.
You can find an English-language list of prices for specific plans here.
How does pricing work?
Electricity is paid in advance, in the form of a deposit. The amount of the deposit is determined according to the size of your home and the number of inhabitants. Once your bill arrives (once every four months), it will specify how many crowns´ worth of electricity was actually used. Any difference between the actual sum and the deposit will be added to or subtracted from your next deposit payment.
How do I pay my bill?
When you sign up for your plan, you will be asked to specify your preferred method of payment. Bills can be paid in the following ways:
· Direct debit: Amount due is automatically deducted from your bank account. A limit can be placed on the deductable amount to protect your account against unexpectedly large payments.
· Single transfer order: A one-time bank payment initiated by the customer after receipt of the bill
· In cash using Postal Form A: A common method of paying various bills. The form attached to your bill is taken to the post office and the amount due is paid for in cash.
· SIPO: A combined bill which can include your rent, basic utilities, and television fees. You can sign up for it at the post office, where the bill is paid for in cash; alternatively, you can agree with your bank to allow the post office to deduct the sum by debit.
More information about paying your bill can be found at www.spoluproprahu.cz