Luxembourg Insider is a new regular column that takes a deep dive into life as an expat in the Grand Duchy.
Unless you are planning to live off the grid, and best of luck to you if you are, one of the first things you will want to sort out upon arrival to the Grand Duchy is utilities, phones, and internet.
If you are anything like me, you may find this quite distressing – I went from being a national champion of utility tariff price comparison* to knowing not the first thing about companies on the Luxembourg market, and couldn’t help but feel I lost some small part of my very essence in so doing.
*Unofficial title, but I’ll challenge any of you to a UK utilities price comparison duel. Bring it.
The least I can do for my fellow penny-pinchers is point you in the right direction, providing you with the information I wish I’d had when I first moved over. We’ll be covering gas, electricity, water, bins, phones, and internet. We’ve got quite a bit to get through, so let’s get to it, shall we?
Utilities – gas and electricity
There’s good and bad news when it comes to choosing energy suppliers in Luxembourg, both of which stem from the fact that as a small country Luxembourg has only a few suppliers from which to choose. If you’ve lived somewhere like the UK, you may be used to comparing endless lists of suppliers and tariffs – so the good news is that the process will be quicker here, but competition is also lower.
According to Institut Luxembourgeois de Régulation (ILR) - an independent regulatory authority responsible for regulating, among others, utilities, rail transport, airport taxes, and communications – there are four gas suppliers in Luxembourg:
The list of electricity suppliers is slightly, but not much, longer:
Chances are that your list of actual options will not include all of these, however, as some suppliers only operate in certain areas. So how do you find the best supplier and tariff for your specific consumption needs? Keep reading..
Comparing utility tariffs: Calculix
No one wants to overpay for utilities, nor indeed anything else, but finding the best deal can be quite the drag. Lucky for you (and me!) ILR has launched an online price comparison tool that allows you to compare the prices of various suppliers and tariffs based on your location and energy consumption. If you are unsure about how much gas and electricity you use, this nifty online tool can also generate an estimate for you.
The bad news is that the tool is only available in French, Luxembourgish, and German – so if you don’t speak any of these languages yet, using it may not be the easiest thing in the world. Still, it’s quite intuitive and you should at the very least be able to use it to get an idea of which suppliers are available in your area, and roughly how much you should expect to pay. ILR also offer an Energy Hotline-service (+352 28 228 888), and their representatives will be more than happy to provide further information to ensure you end up with the best deal available to you.
Water and bins
This is going to be the shortest section of the guide, as your options are exceptionally limited. Water supply is handled locally by your municipality (“commune”), so for anything relating to that particular topic, that’s who you should contact. You can find a full list of municipalities and contact details here.
Bins are also provided (costs vary) by your local municipality, and should be arranged when you go to the municipal office to register your arrival. You will be offered various options for bins and sizes, some of which are mandatory and others not. You can find out more about recycling in Luxembourg here.
Mobile phone operators
This is another area where a price comparison website would be incredibly handy (multilingual pun very much intended), but unfortunately no such website exists at the time of writing. Unfortunately this means that you’ll have to do your price comparison the good old fashioned - manually. The four principal operators in Luxembourg are:
There are however several other options as well, and it’s always a good idea to make sure you get a full picture of the options available to you before you sign up – not least if you are going for a longer contract. For a full list of operators, click here.
Internet and landlines
We’re nearly at the end of the article. Believe me, I know this is not the most thrilling of reads, so well done for sticking with it – hopefully it will pay off in savings, but at the very least you’ll be able to talk utilities with your neighbours like a proper local!
Keep in mind that prices can vary quite a bit depending on several factors, including the internet speed you’re looking for, if you want unlimited data, if you bundle several services, etc., so make sure you work out what you need before you start comparing prices.
Martin Jonsson moved to Luxembourg in October in 2016, before which he lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, for 10 years. He's a freelance journalist and RTL Today contributor.