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Energy in Germany: what you should know before choosing a supplier

If getting settled in a new country wasn't challenging enough, many internationals arriving in Germany find getting their power supply organised a baffling experience.

Energy in Germany: what you should know before choosing a supplier
Photo: Getty

Take heart, however – following a few key pieces of advice can save you time, money and heartache, not to mention massive bills. Together with the German power supplier for internationals, Ostrom, we explain how to get connected in Germany, without breaking the bank.

Learn more about Ostrom, the German energy provider that works entirely in English 

Plugging in 

The good news is, you don’t have to pick an energy provider before you move into an apartment. You will automatically be supplied by the default supplier for the city or region where you live, known as the Grundversorger (‘basic provider’). While this is one less thing to worry about upon moving in to your new home, a few months down the line you might find that you’re paying far more than you should be.

This is why shopping around for a new energy provider is such a good idea. With over a thousand providers across the nation, competition for your custom is fierce. Comparison sites exist, but they sometimes miss some of the best deals. A little hands on research will be much more beneficial.

Once you’ve picked your supplier, it’s worth continuing to compare prices every year, as the market can fluctuate wildly, and new providers are appearing on the market all the time. It’s worth keeping your options open! 

Bear in mind that some providers will have a minimum contract period. While there are provisions under German law under which you can cancel, this usually involves lots of faxing and posting forms. There are very few fully digital options out there. 

Something else to consider is that a lot of providers will offer a one-time bonus upon signing a contract. This is usually a considerable discount applied across the first year – tempting! However, stay with that provider longer than a year and you’ll see considerable price hikes to make up for it.

Avoid the hassle of choosing from thousands of German power suppliers – explore your options with Ostrom, the power supplier for internationals 


 (Photo: Ostrom)

Powering up  

One thing that might seem strange when dealing with a German power supplier, is that you will prepay for power. Either you or your power supplier will estimate the amount of electricity you use over the course of a year, and you will be billed at regular intervals, depending on your supplier. 

This has some benefits. If you use less power than estimated, you will get a rebate at the end of the year. This can be a very nice surprise. However, if you exceed this estimation, you will receive a Nachzahlung (‘after payment’), a demand to pay the difference. In any case, it is a very good idea to regularly monitor your power usage, which can be found on your Stromzähler (meter), which is usually in the basement of your home or apartment block.

You may discover that Germans use power differently to those from other countries. Relatively few Germans have a clothes dryer, for instance, and almost none have air conditioning in their home. This is is because German houses and apartments are generally designed to stay cool in summer, warm in winter, and be well ventilated. If you’re used to using these kind of appliances, you may find that your electricity bills soon become quite large. Moreover, your German friends may scoff! 

It may take some getting used to, but a clothes drying rack from Tedi or Aldi, or a basic box fan, will end up saving you a considerable amount of money in the long run. Consider it an investment in your future adventures, exploring all that Germany has to offer. 

Making the (right) switch 

Many German electricity providers love nothing more than swamping you with legal documentation and complex German that even some C1-level students struggle with. If you’re looking to avoid the stress of wading through the fine print, consider switching to Ostrom, the energy provider specifically created with internationals in mind. No sneaky price hikes, no cancellation fees, just an energy provider working for you. 

Ostrom is entirely digital, app-based and entirely in English – no fiddly German terms to deal with. Live assistance from English-speaking operators is available, and you’ll never have to be searching through piles of paperwork to find important information.

Using the app you can upload meter readings to keep track of your usage, and view and change your monthly payments accordingly. You can cancel any time, and come back without penalty. In a country that prides itself on paperwork, that’s a real game changer! 

Ostrom not only aims to make life easier for you, but it’s also 100 percent green. They’ve signed with a solar plant in Maßbach so you can be sure your electricity is truly green, and you can even point to where it comes from on a map. If the excellent customer service and easy-to-use app weren’t enough, you can rest assured that you’re helping Germany transition away from fossil fuels, and minimising your carbon footprint in the process!

Ready to make the switch to an easy-to-use, English-speaking energy supplier who is there for you when you need them? Start your switch to Ostrom today! 

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ENERGY

German households to receive relief for gas costs ‘starting in January’

To help German residents with skyrocketing energy costs, the government is planning to provide relief starting in January, according to draft legislation.

German households to receive relief for gas costs 'starting in January'

Through the gas price cap, the so-called Gaspreisbremse, both German residents and companies will receive retrospective relief for their gas costs starting in January 2023, according to the draft. 

Previously the relief payments were set to stretch between March 2023 and spring 2024, with 25,000 larger businesses, as well as almost 2,000 hospitals and schools to receive the help starting in January. 

READ ALSO: How much could households save under Germany’s new price cap?

The German government is reacting to the sharp rise in energy prices with energy price brakes worth billions and wants to soften the blow on both private households and companies. 

Germany will also be divvying out a one-off energy relief payment in December.

READ ALSO: When will people in Germany get their December gas bill payment?

How much will households and businesses receive?

Under the gas price cap, households and small and medium-sized enterprises are to receive a guaranteed gas gross price of 12 cents per kilowatt hour for 80 percent of their current consumption. For the remaining 20 percent of consumption, the contract price is set to apply.

For district heating, the guaranteed gross price is to be capped at 9.5 cents. 

Starting in January, a gas price brake is also planned for industry. These large consumers are to receive a guaranteed price of 7 cents per kilowatt hour net for 70 percent of their previous consumption volume.

The largest part of the energy price brake is to be financed by a “defence umbrella”, or special reserve, totalling up to €200 billion. The government is still taking on new debt in order to finance the energy caps. 

Russia’s war against Ukraine has increasingly aggravated the situation on the energy markets in Germany and Europe in the course of 2022, the draft states. 

In particular, the recent large price increases for natural gas and heat represent a “considerable, in some cases existence-threatening burden for residents and companies in Germany,” it continued. “They are an enormous socio-political and economic challenge.”

Vocabulary

relief – (die) Entlastung

Natural gas – (das) Erdgas

Consumption – (der) Verbrauch

cushion/soften a blow – abfedern

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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