Putting your washing machine on at night? Be careful, you could be fined 3,000 euros
The controversial change of electricity tariffs in Spain came into effect last Tuesday, with three levels and bands of charges, the cheapest one being from midnight to 8am, the so called off-peak hours. The changes have generated a wave of memes on social media, with many Spaniards waiting until midnight to do household chores such as ironing or putting on a washing machine and dryer, three of the activities that are most reflected in electric bills, not including taxes.
However, in some cities trying to save in this way can be more expensive due to ‘noise pollution’ caused at these hours, which is punishable by fines of up to 3,000 euros. This means that the recommendations of the Spanish Government to start washing machines after midnight, clashes with the municipal ordinances of the some municipalities.
The noise and vibration ordinances in force in the main provincial capitals of the country, agree that turning on noisy appliances such as washing machines the night, is not tolerable or acceptable neighbourly behaviour.
For example, Barcelona expressly prohibits the use of noisy appliances after 9:00pm, and the violation of the ordinance is sanctioned with minimum fines of 750 euros that can reach 3,000 euros.
Although the regulations vary slightly between municipalities, the maximum noise level allowed in most cases is between 30 and 35 decibels (dB) at night. Most washing machines on the market far exceed these figures, as according to data from the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), the noise level in a washing cycle is between 46 and 57 dB, increasing until it oscillates between 58 and 70 dB during the spin cycle.
THE THREE BANDS OF THE NEW RATES:
From last Tuesday, there are three time zones that the price of electricity now varies in, in Spain:
Punta (peak time): The most expensive time and the one to be avoided if you don’t want a more expensive bill than before, despite currently being the hours of highest consumption. It applies from 10am to 2pm, and 6pm to 10pm from Monday to Friday.
Llana (flat rate): This is the average price and applies from Monday to Friday from 8am to 10am; from 2pm to 6pm; and from 10pm to midnight.
Valle (cheap rate): the cheapest times and when it is most advisable to put your large electrical appliances to work. It applies from Monday to Friday from midnight to 8am and at weekends and national holidays throughout the day.