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ENERGY

8 simple ways you can save on heating costs in Germany

Massively rising energy prices in Germany mean many people are already getting anxious about heating costs this autumn and winter. We break down some of the most simple ways you can save on your energy bills.

A man checks the window sealing with a sheet of paper.
A man checks the window sealing with a sheet of paper. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Zacharie Scheurer

Though it might seem strange to be talking about keeping warm in the height of summer, the subject of heating costs is already on a lot of people’s minds and experts are advising people to already take measures to save on their heating bills this winter. Here are 8 simple ways you can make savings. 

1. Keep your radiators clear

Though radiators can sometimes be unsightly, using covers or obscuring them with furniture or clothes can be costly, as a radiator can only efficiently heat a room if it is uncovered.

So, let your radiator be free, and thereby increase its efficiency and decrease your heating costs. 

READ ALSO: ‘Difficult winters ahead’: Germany sets out emergency energy saving measures

2. Check your windows

One common way that homes can lose heating is through unsealed windows.

A simple method to check if your windows are sufficiently sealed is to insert a sheet of paper between the frame and sash (the part which moves and holds the glass panes together). If the paper doesn’t rip when you pull it out, then it‘s a sure sign that air can enter through the gap in the same way.

With older windows, the seal may have become brittle or damaged. In this case, the only thing that helps is to get a new seal.

To do this, remove the old seal and thoroughly clean the surface so that there is no adhesive residue. You can get replacement foam and rubber gaskets from most hardware stores and stick these on quite easily yourself.

Failing that, long plush animals and blankets can also be used as draught stoppers on window sills.

3. Insulate your radiators

In most older buildings in Germany, radiators are usually installed in niches under the windows. The thinner walls in this part of the building are often a weak point, where you can lose precious heating energy.

But you can quite easily remedy this situation by yourself, even as a tenant, by insulating the wall behind the radiator.

You can buy prefabricated insulation panels – styrofoam panels laminated on one side with aluminum – from most hardware stores.

By installing these panels behind every radiator, you can reduce the heating losses through the brickwork by up to 90 percent.

4. Cover your pipes

Exposed and uninsulated heating pipes can waste a surprising amount of heat.

Insulation shells make it easy to insulate heating pipes. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Silvia Marks

But luckily, solving the problem is very straightforward. You can buy special pipe insulation materials and insulating tape in most DIY stores for only €3 to €10 per metre. 

5. Choose the right heating method

One reader recently asked The Local if it was a good idea to use a portable electric heater instead of the central heating system to save on energy costs. 

At the moment, electricity costs in Germany are currently at an average of 30 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to oil and gas costs of 15 cents per kilowatt hour. This means that using electric heaters would be almost double the cost of using a radiator and should be avoided.

A green power plug in front of an electricity bill. Photo: picture alliance / Jens Kalaene/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Jens Kalaene
 
However, people should keep an eye on gas prices because it is likely that they too will soon increase, so it could be that electrical heating devices will end up being cheaper come winter.

6. Shorter showers instead of long baths

In Germany, heating water accounts for around 13 percent of heating costs. Though luxury bubble baths are a treat that many look forward to in the winter, it’s best to do without them as often as you can and opt for a quick shower. 

READ ALSO: ‘Save now’: German energy regulator warns gas bills could triple

7. Get a water-saving shower head

Having switched from baths to showers, you can reduce your water heating costs even more by getting an economy shower head. These devices either simply reduce the flow of the water, or use technical means to treat the water so that, despite the reduced volume, it feels like a full shower jet.

You can get these special shower heads for as little as €20.

8. Ventilate properly

Though it might seem counter-intuitive, ventilating your home at regular intervals can also help reduce heating costs, as humid air warms up less quickly than dry air.

Short bursts of ventilation with the windows wide open are optimal – preferably three to four times a day. 

READ ALSO: Cost of living: How to save money in Germany this summer

Useful Vocabulary:

sealed = dicht

unsealed = undicht

shower head = (der) Duschkopf

heating pipe = (das) Heizrohr

insulation = (die) Isolierung

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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POLITICS

‘Winter of rage’: Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

Experts are warning that economic hardship may lead to protests throughout Germany in autumn and winter - and that they could be infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

'Winter of rage': Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

In view of rising energy costs, supply difficulties, growing unemployment and general pessimism about the future, authorities in Germany are warning that there will be mass protests this year – and that these are likely to be abused by extremists.

The warnings come from civil servants from the federal offices for the Protection of the Constitution or Bundesverfassungsschutz – Germany’s watchdog for safeguarding free democracy at the federal level and in the 16 states.

Stephan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German broadcaster ZDF that, following the pandemic and the world events of recent months, there is a “highly emotionalised, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood” among the population, “whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is tainted by massive doubts”.

He expects that “legitimate protests” will be infiltrated by extremists, especially those from the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) scene and that it is likely that some will turn violent.

READ ALSO: How Germany is saving energy ahead of uncertain winter

“What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.

The head of Hamburg’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Torsten Voß, told the Funke Mediengruppe that he expects “extremist conspiracy ideologues and other enemies of the constitution” will try to abuse protests for their ideological purposes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said “a spectrum of radical opponents of vaccination and so-called Covid deniers have built up a protest infrastructure, with contacts and channels for mobilisation”. This group will try to use this infrastructure for the energy security protests in the autumn, he said.

READ ALSO: German households could see ‘four-digit’ rise in energy costs this winter

Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Jörg Müller, also fears that extremists could exploit the energy crisis and high inflation fears for their own purposes.

“Extremists dream of a German winter of rage” he told Welt am Sonntag. “They hope that the energy crisis and price increases will hit people particularly hard so that they can pick up on the mood and advertise their anti-state aspirations. We are following these goings-on with watchful eyes and open ears.”

Vocabulary:

Constitution – (die) Verfassung

Rage – (die) Wut

Violent – gewalttätig

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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