HOW TO SAVE ENERGY IN GERMANY (& MONEY TOO!)
They say it’s going to be a tough winter in Germany and the rest of Europe. Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the EU reducing their energy dependence on Russia, energy, and related rent costs, are increasing dramatically. It leaves many worried about being able to pay their bills and having to change their personal habits to adjust to yet another unwanted new norm.
While Germany must do everything possible to shield the most vulnerable from the rising costs, like low-income earners and pensioners, the current reality of the war and worsening climate change makes it necessary to stop funding Russia while doing what we can to save the planet.
That said, there are numerous ways to save energy in Germany this winter while still staying warm and working to ensure you won’t get expensive energy bills.
OUR TOP ENERGY-SAVING TIPS
There’s power in knowing that the costs will be higher. It gives us time to prepare and learn what we can do to reduce our energy consumption this winter – either gas, oil, and electricity.
Here’s our list full of, obvious and not-so-obvious, tips about how to save energy in Germany this winter. Note, that some tips help you more than others, but at this point, every bit counts.
1) Change How You Heat Your Home
Some no-brainers are to keep the heat on low, only heat the rooms you’re in, and turn the heat off when you’re not home.
If you want to be fancy, get yourself smart heating switches that work with Alexa or via an app. They allow you to remotely turn on your heat before getting home from work or set a schedule to turn off the heat soon after falling asleep.
We recommend these ones that work with the typical radiators you find in German flats:
- Homematic IP Smart Home Heating Starter Set
- tado ° Smart Radiator Thermostat
- Netatmo Smart WLAN Radiator Thermostat Starter Pack
You can also get a portable space heater but only do so after researching if it’s really going to reduce your energy consumption, as it could actually end up costing you more.
Some space heaters to consider:
An unfortunate effect of keeping your house cool is the potential for mold build-up. When you’re drying clothes, do it in a big well-ventilated room, open the windows for a while to bring in some fresh air, or pump up the heat for a short time. Another tip is to air out your flat, one room at a time.
If you want to know how humid it is in your flat, think about buying a hygrometer:
- ThermoPro TP50 digital thermo-hygrometer, room temperature and humidity meter
- SwitchBot Thermometer Hygrometer Indoor
- DOQAUS Thermometer Hygrometer
I have the SwitchBot one and it’s a great way to track temperature and humidity levels at home.
2) Find Alternative Ways To Stay Warm
There’s always the option of cuddling up with a loved one, be it a canine, feline, or human companion, or piling on layers of clothes. But how else can you stay warm?
Go to bed with a hot water bottle or use an electric blanket. While the purchase of an electric blanket made me feel like an elderly grandma, I got an electric blanket a few years back and use it all of the time during winter.
For hot water bottle inspiration:
- Hot water bottle with waist warmer
- Blumtal Hot Water Bottle with Soft Cover
- BOLEi Hot Water Bottle with Soft Cover
And for electric blankets:
- Bedsure Electric Blanket with Automatic Shut-Off
- Cosi Home Luxury Electric Blanket with Automatic Shut-Off
- CAROMIO Electric Blanket with Automatic Shut-Off
You can also consider going to bed with a pair of thermal socks:
Or a plush robe:
- CityComfort Women’s Fluffy Fleece Dressing Gown with Hood
- NY Threads Women’s Fleece Dressing Gown with Hood
- Homelevel Sherpa Reversible Bathrobe
Many people are also going for weighted blankets:
3) Be Mindful Washing Dishes
In almost all cases, you save more energy by using the dishwasher versus washing dishes by hand. Of course, there are things you still need to wash by hand, like wooden cutting boards or chef’s knives, but you can bring that to a minimum.
When using your dishwasher, only run a wash when it’s full and use an eco-setting.
Similarly, if you hand wash, only wash when the sink is full. Washing several times throughout the day only uses up more water. Further to that, use warm water vs really hot water, fill the sink with a small amount of water for washing, and don’t leave the water running for long periods of time. Although I’m skeptical, expert advice even says that rinsing soap off isn’t necessary.
If you’re purchasing a new dishwasher, buy an energy-saving one.
4) Take A Shower Instead of Bathing
While I’m pretty precious about regularly having long bubble baths, I’m going to alter my behavior this winter. Common advice is to take shorter showers, at lower temperatures, and less frequently. There’s no need for a scalding hot shower. Even better is turning off the water when you’re applying shampoo and conditioner or lathering up with soap.
Another idea is to buy an energy-efficient shower head:
Or use a flow limiter:
When you brush your teeth, don’t leave the water running and the same applies when washing your hands.
You can also skip using a hair dryer and opt to towel dry it instead with a super absorbent fast-drying towel. Check out some of these:
5) Get Smart With Your Lights
If you’re not in the room, turn off the lights. Make your home more romantic and cozy by using candles.
Even better is buying LED bulbs that seem to last forever and use way less energy. While more expensive than traditional light bulbs, it will save you in the long term.
Some examples to point you in the right direction:
You can also get smart bulbs that work with Amazon and Apple home, as well as other apps. You can do things like walk into a room and say “Hey Siri, turn on the lights” or even schedule a morning wake-up call to a special colored light.
Here’s an example:
6) Deal With Your Windows
Another way to save energy in Germany is to close your windows to keep the heat in, especially at night. As much as you like fresh air, limit how often and for how long you keep your windows open.
At night when temperatures really drop, keep the curtains or blinds closed too. This encloses the heat inside your flat and ensures the cold stays out.
Consider buying a thermal blackout curtain to help even more. There are plenty of affordable options out there:
Make sure your curtains don’t cover your radiators as it will limit the flow of heat through your flat. It’s also a good idea to make sure your radiators aren’t blocked by furniture either.
7) Switch Up How You Do Laundry
While it’s time-consuming and tedious, you can hand wash your nicer items of clothing.
Only run a wash when you have a full load, use an eco-option, avoid long washes that go for hours, and don’t run a wash using high temperatures. A colder wash (40 degrees or less) can reduce energy use by up to 80%! Use detergent that cleans your clothes efficiently and won’t require a re-wash.
If you’re one of those rare unicorns who have a dryer in Germany, avoid using it altogether and hang your clothes, towels, and bedding on a rack to dry.
If you’re buying a new appliance, look for an energy-saving washing machine.
8) Refine Your Cooking Habits
Using your oven and stove less will help you reduce your energy consumption. Use some of your small appliances instead, like a microwave, toaster oven, panini press, etc.
Some people have opted to purchase hot plates/induction hobs like this:
When I moved into my new flat back in January, I used one of these for months as I waited on my new kitchen to be installed and it actually worked quite well.
Another power move (pun intended!) to help you save energy in Germany is unplugging your appliances when you’re not using them. This includes things like a blender, coffee maker, toaster, power bar, and more. Over the long run, you’ll save a significant amount of cash.
The tech-savvy among you can opt for smart plugs:
You can also add energy-saving taps around the house, which will be especially helpful in your kitchen:
Some Bonus Tips
Some other information about saving energy in Germany:
1) Reduce how much you watch TV and how long you leave it on – don’t fall asleep and leave it running all night.
2) We’ve seen advice telling people to turn off their modems when they aren’t accessing the internet. Don’t turn your modem off at night. It can mess with your bandwidth and cause issues with your modem.
4) Although not related to energy savings, do you know that if you live and work in Germany, you may be able to receive €3,000 from your employer to help minimize the financial burden from inflation and rising prices? Read our guide about the inflation bonus in Germany.
That concludes our eight top ways to save energy in Germany. Are we missing anything? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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