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Heat and Electricity: Utilities in Germany
Choose Your Energy Supplier
Take your time to compare suppliers for gas and especially electricity, with regard to prices, services, and environmentally conscious offers that support renewable energies in Germany. Remember that choosing your supplier wisely can make a significant difference in your cost of living in Germany. Consumer advice websites can help you to do so.
To change your account details or to open a new account, the energy supplier usually needs:
- Meter number (not to be confused with the appliance number on the side of the meter)
- Meter reading
- Date of transfer (i.e. the date when you move in or when your rental agreement starts)
- Exact address
- Name and bank details of current occupant
- Proof of residence (depends on the supplier)
The registration process needs to be done in writing or by submitting your information on the company’s website.
Meter Reading and Electricity Supply
Once a year, the energy provider sends their maintenance staff to read the meter. Your monthly bills are calculated via an estimate of our household’s gas and electricity consumption. Following the actual meter reading, the company or the landlord will adjust your energy bills accordingly. If you have used more energy than estimated, you will have to make additional payments. If you needed less gas and electricity, you will be reimbursed.
Speaking of electricity, in Germany the standard electricity supply is 230 volts - 50Hz AC. Please check whether your electric appliances need an adapter or transformer to function properly. Moreover, German electric sockets are made to fit the TYPE-F plug or the TYPE-C plug, which you should take into account before bringing your household appliances to Germany.
Heating in Germany
If your flat is heated with gas or if your heating costs are generally included in your Warmmiete or Hausgeld, the information from the previous paragraph on electricity and gas applies to you as well.
Only few apartments and houses in Germany still come with individual heating fueled by oil, coal, briquettes, or even firewood (Ofenheizung). In these cases, the rent does not cover your heating costs. You have to buy the fuel at DIY stores, fire up the stove yourself and do not need an account with a gas supplier. You should keep in mind, however, that these old-fashioned heating systems can be quite unsafe and it is often difficult to regulate the heat.
Waste Disposal and Recycling in Germany
It’s a popular stereotype that Germans love separating their household waste, and it does have some truth in it. Costs for waste disposal are included in the Nebenkosten (additional charges) of your Warmmiete or in your homeowners’ fee.
Also ask your landlord, the caretaker (Hausmeister) or property manager which sorts of bins are provided. According to German customs, you should separate your household waste into paper, glass, organic waste, and residual waste. Lots of households additionally separate tins, aluminium, plastic bags, etc. The waste bags are collected by municipal services every two to four weeks.
In addition to that, certain types of waste should never be put in the household rubbish at all.
- Bulky items: Rubbish furniture and large electrical appliances are categorized as bulky waste (Sperrmüll). They are picked up by garbage disposal companies as well, but you might have to contact them directly and arrange a date.
- Clothes: You can dispose of used shoes and clothes in one of the large containers placed all around towns and cities across Germany, or donate them to charity organizations like the Red Cross.
- Chemicals: Everything that contains toxic substances or chemicals (e.g. paints, pesticides, etc.) has to be taken to specials depots (Wertstoffhof) run by local garbage disposal companies.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.