The energy market was deregulated in Germany at the end of the 20th century, leading to fierce competition between regional, national and international suppliers. There are now many types of energy available in Germany. These sources are regulated by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) together with the regulatory authorities of the federal states.
When moving into a house or apartment it may be necessary to set up a connection to all utilities. However, most apartment buildings are supplied by one gas/electricity company who will have a contract with the landlord. This means it is not possible for individual tenants to change supplier. To change, proof of residency (polizeiliche Anmeldung) will usually be required. If a place is rented kalt (cold), that means the price of utilities is not included. Warm indicates utilities are included.
To set-up service, you can contact the gas company directly. Most offer an online service for you to request connection and disconnection. Gas suppliers (Gasanbieter)usually have customer service centers or customer advice lines with staff who speak some English and can assist with the completion of the necessary forms.
Further providers at http://www.gaskosten-tabelle.de/gasanbieter.php.
The standard electricity supply in Germany is 230 volts - 50Hz AC. There are two main types of plug used: Type F plugs ("Schuko" short for Schutzkontakt) and Type C plugs (Euro-stecker). Wall sockets are adapted to Type F but fit both plug types. Note: not all extension cords take the larger Type F although some multiple extension cords come with sockets for both size plugs.
New tenets can set-up service directly with suppliers. Changing suppliers usually takes three months period if the customer notifies the respective companies six weeks in advance. The new occupant should make a note of all meter readings from the previous occupant so that the utility company only bills for their actual consumption. It is best to read the terms of the supply contract before changing suppliers as many demand a minimum contract period.
Vattenfall Chausseestr. 23, 10115 Berlin-Mitte
Tel: 01801 267 267
Tel: 0231 438 02
Tel: 0800 190 0019
A comprehensive list of prodivers can be found here.
Consumption is generally estimated for the following twelve-month period. Bi-monthly invoices slips are issued stating the amount the supplier estimates the customer will need to pay to cover usage. These can be taken to the post office or bank for payment or a direct debit may be set up.
Meters are read once a year. Following the annual meter reading, payments are adjusted according to actual consumption, and over payment is reimbursed or additional payment is requested by the landlord or the electricity or gas supplier.
Some older buildings still have stove heating, fired by briquettes and coal and useful for burning rubbish to decrease the amount of household waste generated. Rental properties with stove heating usually have lower rents. Coal is sold at a coal merchant, a builders' merchants (Baumarkt) and DIY shops. Some offer a regular delivery service although it can be bought in small quantities and transport by the homeowner/tenant themselves. Most of the older buildings with stove heating will have a cellar (Keller) for storing fuel.
Water in Germany is usually supplied by the local waterworks (kommunale Wasserwerke). Water costs are determined based on a individual usage and the charges are levied with the rent as part of the additional rent costs (Nebenkosten). In this case there is no need to set up an individual account.
If it is necessary to set up a new contract, contact the relevant water supplier. Most websites have details of customer service centers (Kundencenter) and some have an online facility for registering (anmelden) as a new client.
In many parts of Germany the water quality is very hard and it is strongly recommended that limescale protection products are used in dishwashers and washing machines. Water filters are also very popular for drinking water to prevent limescale build-up in kettles.
Water consumption readings are taken annually. Any additions or deductions are reflected in the final bill. In rental properties, the actual consumption is reflected in the rent charges for the following year. Some properties have individual water meters, but most water costs are calculated at a fixed rate. Drinking water and waste water are often charged separately. For further information on how costs are calculated, Berliner Wasserbetriebe.
Motardstr. 35, 13629 Berlin
Tel: 0800 292 7587
Tel: 0231 438 02
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