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MONEY

How much does working from home in Germany hike up your electricity bill?

Lots of people in Germany have been working from home during the pandemic. As well as having a shorter commute from your bed to desk (or couch), it also has an impact on your wallet.

People have to pay more for electricity when working from home.
People have to pay more for electricity when working from home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

A new study sheds some light over how much working from home pushes up the cost of electricity bills. 

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, lots of workers have been doing ‘home office’ instead of going into their office, to help control the spread of infections. 

Spending more time at home means you consume more electricity. But how much more expensive is it? Experts from a comparison portal have done the maths.

While working from home, an employee’s electricity bill can increase by around up to €94 a year, says comparison portal Check24.

READ ALSO: How households in Germany can tackle rising energy costs

According to their calculation, the use of a laptop, monitor, desk lamp, kettle or coffee machine and the use of an electric cooker or microwave oven result in additional costs of around 25 to 43 cents per day.

For the calculation, researchers assumed that:

  • An employee, minus holidays and public holidays, works 220 days a year from home and pays an average price of 33.9 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity
  • During this time, they operate a laptop for eight hours a day (0.12 kWh), a monitor (0.24 kWh) and an LED desk lamp (0.056 kWh)
  • They also use a kettle (0.33 kWh) or a coffee machine (0.25 kWh) for 10 minutes and an electric cooker for half an hour at lunchtime (0.5 kWh)
    or a microwave for five minutes (0.066 kWh)

When it comes to phone charging, experts say it doesn’t make much of a difference to household bills. “Charging a smartphone barely plays a role in the additional costs in the home office, because only 0.3 cents is due per charging process,” the authors of the study explained.

Calculated over the 120 days that serve as the basis for the home office allowance (more on that below), an employee pays €30 to €51 more for electricity.

German households pay some of the highest costs for electricity in the world. 

Electricity prices for consumers reached an all-time high in December.

Since the year 2000, household electricity bills have on average doubled in price.

A three-person household in Germany now pays an average of €93 a month on their electricity bill, up from €41 twenty years ago.

READ ALSO: German electricity prices ‘among highest in the world’

“If you use more electricity in your home office than you previously thought, you can increase your monthly rate with your provider to prevent larger additional payments at the end of the contract,” said Steffen Suttner, Managing Director Energy at Check24.

“It’s also worthwhile for consumers to compare whether other providers offer cheaper prices for higher consumption.”

Additional costs for heating, water or Internet push bills up even further. 

Should Germany have a permanent home office flat rate?

During the pandemic, workers can reduce their annual tax bill with the home office allowance (Home-Office-Pauschale). It allows people to claim €5 per working day (up to €600) in the home office for a maximum of 120 days per year. The lump sum is in place for the years 2020 and 2021. 

The German government introduced it to help compensate employees for the higher electricity, heating and internet bills they face due to home office.

Bavarian finance minister Albert Füracker called on the new federal government to permanently continue the allowance, which expires at the end of this year. 

People want to know “what they can or have to prepare for next year”, said the CSU politician.

Füracker said Bavaria is committed to a lump sum of €1,000 per year because the working world had changed as a result of the pandemic.

As The Local has reported, Germany’s Labour Minister Hubertus Heil wants to permit more remote working in future.

READ ALSO: German Labour Minister wants to allow remote working after pandemic

Vocabulary

To consume – verbrauchen

Additional costs – (die) Mehrkosten

Average price – (der) Durchschnittspreis 

How much more expensive is it per year? – Wie viel teurer wird es pro Jahr?

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.

Member comments

  1. Would be interesting to see if there was any increase at all in total outgoings resulting from home office working when you consider the savings made on commuting costs, especially with the high costs for petrol and diesel…..working at home for me means that I am no longer driving 500 Kms/ week to and from work…

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MONEY

What to know about investing in cryptocurrency in Germany

Germany has been dubbed the most crypto-friendly country in the world. We break down why that is, and what you should know about cryptocurrency in Germany.

What to know about investing in cryptocurrency in Germany

As with all of our financial and tax summaries, this is a guide on regulations only. For financial advice which is personalised to your situation, please contact an accountant or other specialist. Please note also that EU financial regulators have warned that many crypto-assets are highly risky and speculative. Find out more information here.

At first glance, Germany seems an odd place to be a cryptocurrency haven. Only 17 percent of people in Germany invest – way behind the percentages seen in other countries – which may go some way towards justifying the country’s reputation as a land of risk-averse savers.

Cryptocurrency, often called crypto for short, is considered by many investment analysts to be one of the riskiest and most volatile investments a person can own.

Concerns have also been raised over the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies.

There are countless types of crypto on the market these days. What each one has in common is that it is digital and secured using cryptography, meaning they can’t be counterfeited. 

Even the three biggest and most well-known cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple – are prone to huge sudden spikes and falls in value. It’s also a market that has seen some, like the LUNA cryptocurrency last month, crash completely.

Yet, bucking national stereotypes, Germany has some of the most favourable laws in the world for investing in these high-risk assets.

READ ALSO: What you should know about investing in Germany

Germany’s crypto tax advantages

Crypto exchange comparison site Coincub recently named Germany as the world’s most crypto-friendly country, with Singapore and the United States rounding out the top three.

A big reason for this comes down to favourable tax laws. Normally, when someone in Germany sells a regular stock or ETF asset at a higher price than they bought it for, their brokerage will automatically withhold 25 percent of their gain in tax.

Euro notes bitcoin coins

Euro notes and bitcoin coins on a laptop. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

But following tax guidance issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance last month, certain gains in cryptocurrency could face absolutely no taxation at all.

Firstly, the ministry has affirmed that any profit of less than €600 faces no tax. More significantly though, cryptocurrency that someone in Germany has held for at least a year faces no tax at all – no matter how big the gain is when that person sells it.

Why is the law so favourable in Germany?

One variable is political. The liberal Free Democrats tend to attract a sizeable number of votes from the very demographics more likely to hold crypto. While the FDP is in a three-way coalition with the progressive Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, FDP leader Christian Lindner currently holds the German Finance Ministry.

During the 2021 election campaign, Lindner made regulating and attracting crypto investment a big part of the FDP platform and coalition negotiations.

“I think the German government understands how to make money better than a lot of other countries,” says the man behind crypto Youtuber The Modern Investor, a channel with over 225,000 subscribers.

“A lot of people in the crypto space are very internationally mobile,” he tells The Local. “If they choose to live in Germany for the favourable investing conditions, they’re going to be spending money in German supermarkets and buying German services. The money the government misses out on in taxes tends to go right back in the system.”

“If cryptocurrencies continue to take off globally, Germany will eventually be seen as a genius for figuring out how to attract this money and keep it within its borders,” he adds.

Germany’s crypto niche to go mainstream?

Cryptocurrency is still a niche investment in Germany. While only 17 percent of Germans own stocks, only about 2.6 percent own cryptocurrency.

German crypto investors typically skew younger, with a third of all German crypto investors being 34-years-old or younger. The more a person makes, the more likely they are to hold crypto as well, with two-thirds of all German crypto investors earning €800,000 a year or more.

That narrow niche is still big within the crypto community itself though. Around nine percent of the world’s Bitcoin nodes – the computers that run the secure list of transactions using that currency on a digital ledger known as the blockchain – are in Germany, and 14 percent of Ethereum nodes, another major cryptocurrency. That’s second only to the US.

Cryptocurrencies

A tablet screen displays the value of various cryptocurrencies in the Coinbase app. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Yet, while German ownership is still small, the community is visible enough to make others curious. That goes for even the traditionally risk-averse savings banks, or Sparkassen – where many Germans park their savings. The Savings Bank Association says around 10 percent of its regular customers already hold cryptocurrency, leading them to start offering customers the chance to invest in a crypto wallet directly from their checking accounts.

Many of the online brokerages popular with Germany-based investors, such as Trade Republic, Scalable, and DKB, also offer cryptocurrency wallets alongside their options to buy more traditional products like stocks and ETFs. Using their smartphone apps, crypto can typically be bought and sold with a few short clicks.

READ ALSO: How to protect your savings against inflation in Germany

The Modern Investor says that’s part of a culture that’s increasingly viewing crypto as just another normal part of the investing landscape. While crypto suspicion is still high globally, Germany has simply chosen to accept that crypto is here to stay, and has decided to benefit from it. 

“Germany has been one of the very few countries that have actually put forth cryptocurrency regulations. So a lot of internationally mobile investors have run to Germany as a bit of safe option,” the Youtuber says.

“Many countries don’t have any regulations at all. That makes things even less predictable. What happens to a crypto investor in the US or China if either of those countries simply ban it tomorrow? With Germany, people know that’s simply not going to happen now.”

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