Money For Members

INTERVIEW: How can consumers in Germany shield themselves from high energy prices?

Jörg Luyken
Jörg Luyken - [email protected] • 25 Feb, 2022 Updated Fri 25 Feb 2022 11:03 CEST
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A gas cooker. Experts advise people to use their gas and electricity efficiently. Photo: dpa | Marijan Murat

The war in Ukraine is likely to worsen the already dramatic situation on energy markets. We asked a German expert how consumers can make smart choices to ensure that their utility costs stay under control.


With prices rising across the board, people in Germany are getting less bang for their buck now than in previous years. This is particularly true of utility bills, which are being pushed up by the Ukraine crisis and string demand for natural gas in east Asia.

With utility companies struggling to deal with record prices on energy exchanges, some customers have been hit with the worst possible news this winter: they've had their contracts cancelled and have been pushed onto contracts with default suppliers.

READ ALSO: German government moves to end short-notice energy contract terminations

Given these unfortuitous circumstances, we thought it'd be useful to speak with Christina Wallraf, energy expert at the consumer rights centre in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Ms Wallraf, is it currently worth switching utility providers?

You should consider changing your electricity and gas providers at the moment if you have been informed of a significant increase in charges or if you have been pushed onto a contract with the default supplier.

Use price comparison websites to compare your current rate with the prices of alternative suppliers. In addition, keep the default supply tariff in mind. Default suppliers have to publish their prices on their website.

Customers who have not yet been given a price increase, or who have received only a moderate increase, will often be unable to find better offers on the market at the moment. They should stick with their current tariff.

What should one consider when looking for a new supplier?

Besides the price, it's important to pay attention to the experience of other customers. Try to make sure that you find a provider that is as customer-friendly as possible.

The length of contract is also important. We recommend that you commit to a maximum of one year so that you can react flexibly to market changes.


The German government is planning to abolish its renewable energy surcharge in the summer or at the latest at the turn of the year. So you shouldn't tie yourself down for too long. Or, choose a provider who will pass on the entire reduction in the surcharge to the consumer.

If you pick a tariff with a starter bonus, make sure to cancel it after one year, otherwise it will become very expensive.

How can our readers reduce their energy consumption wisely?

Identify electricity guzzlers in your home. These can be different in each household. Ask yourself: do I have a lot of home electronics, or older appliances like washing machines or refrigerators and freezers? If your water heating is electric, this also consumes a lot of electricity.

Be selective in using home entertainment systems. Big screens consume a lot of electricity. Devices on standby should be switched off completely, for example via a power strip.

Old appliances should be replaced, or at least used as energy-efficiently as possible: make sure your washer is full when you use it, use the 'eco' setting. Regulate you refrigerator to seven degrees Celsius. Each degree lower increases consumption by six percent.


In terms of water heating, don't leave under-counter appliances on standby. It's better to switch them off at night. Don't set instantaneous water heaters to the highest level - you end up adding cold water at this level anyway because the water is too hot.

If you are a home owners, an old heating pump can also eat through electricity, so a new acquisition will pay off after a few years.

Save on heating bills energy by heating and ventilating your homes properly. Don't adjust the setting on your radiators. One degree less in room temperature saves 6 percent on your heating bills. Only air out your home in quick bursts - avoid tilting the windows, otherwise the room will cool down and it increases the risk of you getting mold. 

Do you have any other smart tips for our readers?

If you are an home owner or landlord, you should invest in renewable energies. Heat pumps, photovoltaic systems, insulation - that's the only way to reduce energy costs in the medium term.

READ MORE: How to change electricity and gas providers in Germany



Jörg Luyken 2022/02/25 11:03

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