The energy market in the Netherlands is liberalised, so you have lots of options to choose from. Do you want a sustainable provider, or do you want a lower price? Do you want a fixed-price or variable contract? There are many options to find the best energy supplier for your specific needs and situation.
The Dutch power companies mainly differ in terms of tariffs, services, sustainability, and contract duration. One thing is the same for every provider: reliability. All Dutch energy providers have the same high standard of supplying each household with electricity and gas. Black-outs are very rare here, and are resolved quickly if they occur; brown-outs never happen.
How is my energy use calculated?
Every house in the Netherlands has an electricity meter. This meter calculates your energy usage. You will find it in your meter cupboard. The first day you move to a new house, you should read this meter. (Same for the water meter; for more details, see Tap Water in Rotterdam). This is the initial reading for your personal power consumption. It is advisable to take a photo of the meter, so you have clear proof of the initial meter reading and can avoid any possible discussion about that.
Gas, water and light
If you moved into a house that specifies that utilities are included in your rent (‘incl. gas, water, licht’ or GWL), it means you don’t have to arrange an energy provider yourself. This will be all arranged by your landlord and is included in the rent.
When you move into a new house that does not include gas, water and electricity, you should arrange these utilities yourself. You should preferably arrange utilities contracts within five days after you move in. The easiest way to do it by yourself (if you don’t want to make use of an intermediate party) is via an online comparison site. All Dutch power companies are represented on this website, and they have an English-speaking customer service desk.
Your personal requirements
You can fill in your needs and situation to find a contract that suits your needs. For example, it is smarter to opt for a short-term, variable contract if you’re not sure about the duration of your stay in the Netherlands. In that case, a short-term contract is better, since you could otherwise be fined if you cancel the contract before your termination date. You can also opt for different types of sustainable energy, or for a special introductory offer with your contract.
Moving with an energy contract
Energy companies in the Netherlands are very flexible if you want to move. The energy contracts are based on the person signing the contract, not on a house. That means that if you move to a new house that does not have utilities pre-arranged, you can bring your energy contract to your new house. The move is simple to arrange: just notify your current energy company that you are moving to a new address on a certain date.
What if you have a fixed-term energy contract and you will be moving to a new house with a different energy supplier? It could be possible to avoid the contractual fine, if you can prove that you are not able to switch energy suppliers. For example, if you’re going to live with a partner who already has a fixed contract, or if the new house has district heating, moving your energy contract may not be possible.
Switching energy providers
In the liberalised Dutch market, you are free to switch energy providers. Please note you are still bound to your contract that you concluded previously. If you do want to switch energy providers, please check beforehand whether you have a fixed-term contract. If this is the case, you should switch after the end date of the contract (in most occasions, from six months to three years). If you cancel before the termination date, the energy supplier may charge you a fine.
Regulations for providers
Do you regret your choice, or find out afterwards that you can’t switch energy providers? If you applied online or via a comparison service, you are always legally entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period.