25 Tips to Reduce Utilities Costs

Winter 2022 in Germany is going to be a challenge, especially for our wallets. Heating costs from fossil fuels have risen rapidly in recent months. Natural gas prices have tripled compared to the previous year for running contracts. Gas prices were around 6 cents per kilowatt hour at the beginning of 2021. Currently, new gas contracts are offered at around 25 cents per kilowatt hour - 5 times more expensive than at the beginning of 2021. Oil, coal, and electricity prices have also risen sharply, and will most likely continue to do so. Unfortunately this is all on top of a period of high inflation worldwide. 

 

Prices are unfortunately not expected to go down soon - so what can we all do to save a little money for utilities? Changing supplier contracts will unfortunately not bring much savings, as new contracts can be even more expensive than current running contracts. The only way to realistically avoid high costs this winter, unfortunately, is to reduce consumption. Through small changes in your daily life you can save money on energy costs. While these measures also help out our impact on the environment, which is a nice side-effect, the primary focus is about saving money while remaining comfortable in your home during the winter.

 

Here are some interesting ideas that you can integrate into your daily life:

Electricity
  1. The classic start to reducing energy costs is to switch all incandescent and halogen light bulbs to LED. I know most people have probably switched to LED already, but just do a quick check of all lamps, maybe there are a few lightbulbs that still use lots of electricity. LEDs use around 90% less electricity compared to incandescent bulbs and 70% compared to halogen lamps.
  2. Turn off electronics completely when not in use - do not leave them on standby-mode. Standby mode still consumes electricity. 
  3. Laptops and other electronics will continually top-up the battery while turned off, to compensate for the charge that the battery loses over time. Charge electronics only when needed, and keep them unplugged when not in use.
  4. If defrosting something from the freezer, plan in advance and leave it in the refrigerator - this helps the refrigerator use less electricity for cooling.
  5. Ensure that there is enough distance between the back of the refrigerator and the wall, and that the coils are dust-free, to allow efficient dissipation of hot air so the motor does not have to work as hard to cool the contents.
  6. Regularly defrost the freezer - a 1cm thick layer of ice can double the freezer’s electricity use.
  7. Use the eco-program on your washing machine, and avoid the pre-wash setting. Use the eco-program on your dishwasher.
  8. Dry your washed clothes on a clothesline and not in a clothes dryer.
  9. When cooking in the oven use the fan function to distribute and use heat more efficiently.
  10. When cooking on the stove, use a lid to cover your pot or frying pan, which keeps the heat from escaping.

 Halte die Räume im Winter mit Teppichen warm

 
Heating

 

The numbers on the radiators refer to the room temperature. This allows you to determine the desired room temperature more precisely.

0

*

1

2

3

4

5

Off

7°C

10°C

15°C

20°C

25°C

30°C

 

  1. By reducing the room temperature by one degree, you can save around 6% heating energy.
  2. Don’t heat any unused rooms over 16 degrees, and close the doors to these rooms. Below 16 degrees, issues with mould and stress to the building and pipes can arise.
  3. Reduce room temperature to 18 degrees during the night.
  4. Air-out rooms with windows fully open for a short period of time. Do not air out rooms over a longer period of time with the windows tiled - a lot of heat is lost while comparatively little air is circulated if the window is only open at the top. 
  5. Seal any gaps in your windows (discuss this with your landlord if you are renting) and use an insulating foil to cover the windows (unfortunately this option is not plastic-free, but the cost is minimal). 
  6. Plug any gaps under doors that lead to colder areas with a draft stopper, and seal any gaps around the rest of the door with a foam strip.
  7. If you have any extra rugs which are not being used, or ones which are currently in unused rooms, place as many rugs as possible in the rooms which you use the most and want to keep the warmest.

 

Energiekosten reduzieren

 

Warm Water

 

  1. Try to take shorter showers - using a timer can help keep track of time. 
  2. Turn off the water in the shower when possible, like when using soap, applying hair products, or shaving. 
  3. Shower colder than you normally would - every little helps!
  4. Avoid baths - a full bath will use around 140 litres of water, which could be enough water for 5 showers, if a water-efficient shower head is used.
  5. Only use cold water when washing hands and face.
  6. Turn off the tap when not actively using water, such as when brushing your teeth or foaming soap in your hands.
  7. Wash your clothes at a lower temperature in the washing machine.
  8. Talk with neighbours or even your landlord - maybe there is something that you can all do together to save costs, like turning off your building’s communal heater at night.

 

 

While I am sure that everybody is nervous about the cost of energy this coming winter, these practical changes can help to reduce the burden. It must be noted that while saving money is the goal, it is important that everybody should feel comfortable in their home, and should not compromise their health in order to save money. These tips are small changes designed to not reduce comfort while at the same time saving on usage and costs.

 

Im Winter mit einem Kamin warm halten

 

On the financial side, it will be worth putting some money aside, in case heating bills end up being higher than expected. If this money is not needed in the end, because you saved so much money with the tips above, then great! However it is expected that heating bills could be around 500 Euros more expensive for a person living alone, compared to 2021, and around 900 Euros for a 4-person family. This is only an estimation - costs could be even higher than this in the end. Be prepared for costs of 1000 Euros or more, compared to 2021. It would be wise to save up as much as you feel comfortable with on a weekly or monthly basis - if possible saving 50 Euros per month is a good start, and save more if you are able to. Another method is to increase monthly utility prepayments along with your rent, if your utilities are paid by your landlord. Speak to your landlord about what would be realistic.

 

If you are uncertain about being able to pay for higher utility costs, good communication and openness is key. Contact your landlord as soon as possible to see if they would be open to paying off any utility shock-payments in instalments, if it ever comes to it. Research what kind of federal support programs are available. Being well-prepared for a period of high utility costs can avoid any surprises in the future.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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