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Smoking house chimneys: If you change providers, you can save a lot for yourself and the taxpayer community in many cases

Photo: alimdi / Arterra / imagebroker / IMAGO

Well, have you already turned on the heating? And quietly wondered if you were actually well prepared for the winter? Is the heating oil tank full enough, the gas contract in order?

You have taken reasonable precautions if you have done the following three things:

Saving energy

You have used the past year and a half to first find out the energy-saving potentials in your household and then to tackle them. When the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine began, people demonstrated not only in Berlin with placards "Freeze against Putin".

Especially when it comes to heating, there are many options for most households.

  • We have all learned that if we turn down the heating one degree, from 22 to 21 degrees, it saves six percent of the heating energy.

  • Intermittent ventilation brings fresh air and does not cost much heating energy, but tilting the windows does.

  • Even bleeding the radiators can quickly save 50 euros a year.

  • Modern thermostats provide great savings without sacrificing heating comfort. Old thermostats can be adjusted at least: Level 1: approx. 12 degrees; Level 2: approx. 16 degrees; Level 3: approx. 20 degrees; Level 4: approx. 24 degrees; Level 5: approx. 28 degrees.

  • You've already purchased the water-saving shower heads and taught your internet router how to control the new thermostats.

  • And then you agreed with your boss that you'll be coming back to the office three days a week this winter, so he'll have to heat the house.

  • After all, hydraulic balancing for the radiators can quickly save ten percent in households that haven't done so for a long time.

  • In general, the heating system should be serviced before winter. For you as a tenant: In apartment buildings, this is even mandatory, ask your property management company about it.

The heating check of the non-profit organization co2online shows you how much potential there is in your home with such simple measures.

In fact, citizens saved particularly significantly in May and October 2022. They turned off the heating earlier and May was already warm. And they turned up the heating later. October was also a sunny one, on average more than two degrees warmer than in previous years. The use of heating fell drastically.

Overall, the consumption of heating energy in households and businesses fell by ten percent in 2022. However, if you take into account how nice and warm the year was, only 1.4 percent of real savings remain. The industry has saved significantly more – and is also less dependent on the outside temperature.

Buy gas and oil cheaply

In 2020, heating oil temporarily cost less than 40 cents per liter and gas five cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). In spring 2022, the price of heating oil rose to 2.10 euros per liter at its peak, and Stadtwerke Augsburg demanded 48 cents per kWh of gas from customers in the replacement supply for a short time.

The government sought advice and passed the so-called gas price brake. Most gas for the coming winter should cost private households no more than twelve cents per kWh, i.e. just over twice as much as before. And in the case of heating oil, prices fell again this summer to 80 cents per litre. They are now at 1.15 euros.

Some are enriching themselves from the crisis

If you are currently looking around, you can buy the gas for the coming winter well below ten cents per kWh and should do so. In Brandenburg an der Havel, customers without a gas price brake would have to pay 20 euros for a consumption of 000,4340 kWh for a single-family home at their municipal utility in the basic supply. At the cheapest provider, a municipal utility from the Rhine-Main area, the same gas costs only 1740 euros for Brandenburgers. You as a customer and we as taxpayers save the difference of 2600 euros, because we all pay the gas price brake.

In the meantime, there are also initial indications that gas suppliers bill customers differently for consumption under the gas price brake than they do for the state. In this way, providers have to pay part of the high prices twice, once by the customer and then again by the state.

Fill up the tank

If you don't have your heating oil tank full enough to get through the winter, you should hold on now. It is true that heating oil prices have already risen again from 80 cents to 1.15 cents per litre. But given the escalation of violence in Israel and Opec+'s policy of cutting oil production, prices could well rise even further.

Comparison platforms such as Esyoil and Heizoel24 allow you to compare heating oil prices on site. A few cents difference are possible and for 3000 liters of heating oil in the purchase make 30 euros per cent. In my example in Bamberg, buying from the wrong dealer could even be 14 cents more expensive and thus cost an additional 420 euros.

Think about the new heating system and prepare it

In recent months, there has been a lot of controversy about the new heating law. It makes more sense for you to take care of the question yourself of how you can first systematically reduce consumption and which heating solution will be the best for you in the future.

The best way to do this is to talk to an energy efficiency expert, sometimes your local chimney sweep already has the appropriate additional qualification. In any case, the conversations with Alain Rappsilber from the board of the Berlin Chimney Sweep Guild were enlightening for me.

You can find an expert in your area on the DENA website. Enter your postcode. You also need such an expert in order to get access to many funding pots. The work of the expert himself is also subsidized – with up to 80 percent. If you can't find one in your area, check the nearest major city, where there is often a concentration of such experts.

The expert can give you an overview of the different options for reducing consumption with structural measures. What is possible and what costs how much? A good first overview is also provided by the financial tip book by my colleagues Sandra Duy and Ines Rutschmann.

In principle, you can simply proceed step by step and get tax incentives for each individual measure. If the money is not so plentiful, certain repair measures are necessary anyway or there is a very different amount of liquidity depending on the year, this is the easiest way. 20 percent subsidy and up to 40,000 euros in tax savings are possible. This allows you to finance thermal insulation from the basement to the roof, windows and doors, but also a new heating system. The house only needs to be at least ten years old, and you need to use it yourself.

Or you can take a bigger leap with a complete concept. Then there are subsidies for individual measures from Bafa or loans from KfW. Your energy efficiency expert will draw up an individual renovation roadmap (iSFP) for you – so you will receive additional funding later on. Attic, floor or basement ceilings can be insulated, heating pipes or entire exterior walls can be packed in, and windows and doors or even entire heating systems can be replaced. Loans of up to 150,000 euros are discounted, in the best case to 0.35 percent. The individual measures include between 15 percent for insulation and up to 40 percent for the new ecological heating system.

Whether the heating system itself is in your house or whether you can connect to district heating or local heating networks is often not so decisive for energy efficiency measures. Once you have reduced your consumption considerably, all you need is a smaller heat pump or wood pellet heating system. Heat pumps have just been tested by Stiftung Warentest. The most expensive system for a family cost 17,000 euros, the cheapest 9000,25.

If you can be connected to the district heating network – or to a local heating network, then you need less power from the network, and the connection becomes much cheaper from the outset and at the basic price. Large municipalities must tell you whether this is an option for you with the so-called heat planning by 2026, smaller ones by 2028 at the latest.

By then, you will have drastically reduced your energy consumption.

Good luck and a lower bill.