In your first weeks in Germany, you have a lot of things to do and arrange. Changing your electricity provider for your apartment is not a must; however, if you are keen on saving quite some money, you should continue reading. We explain to you how electricity works in Germany and how to find the best electricity providers in Germany for you.
When moving into your new home, you will silently agree to an electricity contract with the basic city provider by consuming electricity. This is great for the beginning, as you don’t have to worry about getting electricity to your apartment. Once you are a bit more settled in though, you should consider changing providers.
Before signing up or changing to an electricity provider, you need to have a German bank account. Once you have that, you can follow one of these three options to take care of your electricity costs.
💡 Good to know: No need to worry! You will never be without electricity in Germany. Should you not change providers or have a gap between contracts, you will automatically get electricity from your basic city provider (Grundversorger).
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3 Options to choose an electricity provider in Germany?
In a regular rental contract, electricity is usually not included in the rental price. Therefore, you will pay for electricity as an extra utility. However, you can choose your electricity provider when you have moved into your own flat or house. There are over 1.200 electricity providers in Germany and you should be able to choose from around 100 providers depending on the area you live in.
If you live in a shared flat (WG), the electricity cost should already be included in your rental price or additional costs (Nebenkosten).
Here is a quick overview of the three different options to choose an electricity provider in Germany:
|Grundversorger (Basic City Provider)||Ostrom||Stromauskunft|
|Easy to Sign Up||It depends|
|Green Energy||Usually not||You can choose|
|Tracking Via App||It depends|
|Cost||Can be more expensive||Can be more expensive||Can be cheapest option|
|Static Pricing||It depends||Can be volatile|
Option 1: Stay with your Grundversorger
The first option is to stay with your basic city provider (Grundversorger). Technically, you don’t have to do anything to receive electricity from your basic city provider, as this happens automatically. In cities, the Grundversorger usually carries the name Stadtwerke + city name, but if you are unsure, you can find out who your Grundversorger is by googling ‘Strom Grundversorger + your city’ and you should find the answer.
To avoid paying for electricity consumption from the previous tenant, you should ask your landlord where your electricity meter (Stromzähler) is located in the house and take a picture of it (see below) on the day that you move in.
You can also sign up with your city provider online or via phone. They will ask for the counter reading on the day you moved in and your German bank details. You can always cancel your ongoing contract with the basic city provider with two weeks notice. So you are not stuck in a one or two-year contract.
Option 2: Change to Ostrom
As a second option, you can consider an electricity provider like Ostrom. They are a start-up founded in 2020 that is disrupting the traditional space of energy in Germany. They are the first electricity provider to offer a website, customer service, and live chat in English. Even more attention-grabbing, though, is their product model. Ostrom only offers one plan (no more comparisons needed), 100% renewable energy, all digital and flexible. You will not get stuck in a one or two-year contract but can cancel every month.
Their mission is to be transparent, smart, and green. With Ostrom, you will no longer need to calculate your actual monthly price, minus random bonuses (you will learn more about this in Option 3); instead, you pay one flat fee, so it is very hassle-free. Their electricity plan is available all over Germany, which makes moving within Germany pretty easy.
Additional to their flexible plans, Ostrom also charges market prices. This means that if the energy price goes up, your monthly price will also increase. But more importantly, if the energy price goes down, Ostrom does not keep the profits, unlike most other electricity providers, but instead also lowers your monthly price.
In their recent case study, they showcase powerfully that even in a price-volatile year like 2022, paying the market price is still cheaper than having a contract with a price guarantee from old-fashioned electricity providers.
Unlike traditional electricity providers, Ostrom also allows you to observe your actual electricity consumption per day or month via their phone app. So you can literally witness whether consumption or device changes in your home have a direct impact on your monthly electricity bill.
Option 3: Compare Traditional Electricity Providers
The third option to save on your electricity bill is to compare various electricity providers in Germany – the traditional way. We will outline how to do so via a comparison tool like StromAuskunft below. The page is in German; however, the Chrome feature ‘Translate to English’ will help you out. We have created a small Wiki at the end of the article with the most critical translations.
By the way, when going the traditional route and not staying with your Grundversorger or choosing Ostrom, you should make changing your electricity provider your yearly habit. The electricity market in Germany is volatile, and electricity prices tend to go up each year.
When changing your electricity provider as described below, you usually benefit from bonuses for the first year only, making regular switching of providers necessary to keep on profiting.
3 Simple Steps to change your electricity provider in Germany
StromAuskunft not only calculates the best rate for you with their electricity cost calculator but, just like Ostrom, also cancels your previous contract and arranges the switch smoothly. You will not notice any change other than in your bank account. 😉
1. Compare electricity prices
Open the comparison tool. For an accurate comparison, you need to select the number of people in your household, enter your approximate yearly consumption and postal code. Also, be sure to tick the box for ‘Germany’s best electricity providers’ so that you will only be shown reliable providers.
As per statistics, the approximate yearly electricity consumption in Germany is the following:
|Number of People||Average yearly electricity consumption|
|One Person||2.000 kWh|
|Two Persons||3.200 kWh|
|Family of 3 or more||5.000 kWh|
StromAuskunft will now compare all possible tariffs to your basic city provider (Grundversorger). Your legal notice period with the Grundversorger is two weeks to the end of the month.
2. Select a new electricity provider
When comparing the different results, you should pay attention that the tariff you choose includes the following:
- Max 12 months contract length
- Max 6 weeks notice period
- Monthly payments, no prepayments or package deals
- A short contract renewal
- Price guarantee for the entire duration of the contract
- Good customer reviews
- Bonuses need to be clearly marked as such
These characteristics allow you to react with great flexibility to changing prices and offers.
Below is an example of a good option to switch to.
As a next step StromAuskunft offers you three different options on how to change the provider:
- A simple one-time change (Einmaliger Wechsel)
- A one-time change and a reminder when it is time to switch electricity providers again (Wechselservice)
- A one-time change, a reminder when to change again, and an automatic offer to stay with the best provider and price (Premium Wechselservice)
All three options are free of charge for you. Should you choose the Premium Wechselservice, you, of course, will have to confirm the offer sent to you (usually after ten months) before StromAuskunft takes any action. This option is best so as not to get caught in an expensive second year.
3. Wait for confirmation
After you have entered all your personal details, your new electricity provider will send you a confirmation and your contract. Your new provider will also cancel the contract with your current provider.
How to pay your electricity bill in Germany?
During your provider change, you will enter your German bank account details, and thus your monthly payment will be deducted from your bank account automatically by your provider.
If you have not changed or signed up with any electricity provider after moving into your apartment or house, you should do so as soon as possible. Simply by using the electricity in your flat, you agree to a contract. You will receive a bill eventually. So it is better to consciously decide on the best electricity provider for you than wait for a bill of several hundred euros.
Should your consumption be less than the estimate you entered, you will receive your money back after 12 months. Should you use more, you will receive an extra invoice demanding an additional payment (Nachzahlung).
Be sure to cancel your electricity contract when you move out or carry your new electricity provider over to your new flat by informing them of the move and the meter reading on the day you move out.
How much does 1 kWh cost in Germany?
In February 2023, the average price for 1 kWh in Germany was 48,12 cents. The price per kilowatt hour has been increasing consistently over the past decade. However, it reached new record highs due to the current energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
The average consumption per household per year for the below numbers is 3.500 kWh. Based on that, the average electricity bill in Germany is 140,35 euros per month.
Electricity in Germany ain’t cheap, but there is a way to save several hundred euros per year on electricity. The best way is to change your electricity provider every year by comparing the current tariffs on a comparison website like StromAuskunft. Or you can choose Ostrom as an electricity provider and benefit from fair, transparent prices and English customer service.
German Wiki to change your electricity provider
- Nutzung – the type of use – private (privat) or commercial (gewerblich)
- Verbrauch – your electricity consumption at home
- Vertragslaufzeit – the duration of the contract
- Mindestlaufzeit – the minimum duration of the contract
- Verlängerung – the duration of the automatically renewed contract
- Kündigungsfrist – the notice period – how much time you have to hand in your termination notice before the end of the contract
- Vorauskasse – advance payment
- Tarif mit Kaution – tariff with a deposit
- Abschlagszahlung or Abschläge – installments
- Sofortbonus – immediate bonus/discount
- Neukundenbonus – a bonus for becoming a new customer
- Ökostrom – electricity from renewable sources
- Wechselservice – change service – notifying and canceling the contract with your old provider
- Grundversorger – the basic electricity provider from your city
- Nachzahlung – additional payment – if your consumption is higher than the estimate
- Rückzahlung – repayment – if your consumption is lower than the estimate
- Stromzähler – electricity meter measuring your consumption
- Zählernummer – the ID number of your electricity meter
- Zählerstand – the reading of the electricity meter