Best Electricity Providers in Germany For Foreigners

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Researched & written

by Yvonne Koppen

Updated

Hey, welcome to my review of the best electricity providers in Germany in 2024.

I have spent the past four years testing various electricity providers and types of contracts in Germany. Now, I am sharing my results based on English friendliness, usability, and transparency.

By reading my guide, you will understand the three different types of electricity providers you can choose from in Germany.

Here is a quick overview of the providers we will talk about in this guide:

  • Ostrom: The best electricity provider for expats in Germany. Their service is 100% in English and digital. You can cancel anytime.
  • Grundversorger (Basic City Provider): This is the default electricity provider you will start with in Germany. Everything is in German.
  • Stromauskunft: If you’re more hands-on, then you should consider this option. It’s a comparison website where they show the best rates in your city. Everything is in German and you should be confident in understanding the fine print.
OstromGrundversorger (Basic City Provider)Stromauskunft
English Websitepro checkx iconx icon
Flexiblepro checkpro checkx icon
Transparentpro checkpro checkx icon
Easy to Sign Uppro checkpro checkIt depends
Green Energypro checkUsually notYou can choose
Tracking Via Apppro checkx iconIt depends
CostFair market priceDepends on your areaYou can select the cheapest option
PricingVariableVariableFixed per contract

Good To Know

Before we get started, I want you to know that you will never be without electricity in Germany. You will automatically get electricity from your basic city provider (Grundversorger) if you do not actively choose a provider. 

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. You should be able to choose from around 100 providers depending on the area you live in. I will show you three options to find the best electricity provider for you.

If you live in a shared flat (WG) your rent or utilities (Nebenkosten) should already include the electricity cost.

Option 1: Stay with your Grundversorger

The first option is to stay with your basic city provider (Grundversorger). You don’t have to do anything to receive electricity from your basic city provider. This happens automatically when you use electricity in your home.

However, you should take action to avoid paying for electricity consumption from the previous tenant. To do so, ask your landlord where your electricity meter (Stromzähler) is located in the house. Take a picture of it (see below) on the day that you move in.

Electricity meters in German apartment house
Electricity meters in multiple story house
electricity meter Germany
Electricity meter in Germany

Next, sign up with your basic city provider and inform them of the meter reading on the day you moved in. In cities, the Grundversorger usually carries the name Stadtwerke + city name. To find the name of your Grundversorger, you can google ‘Strom Grundversorger + your city’.

You can sign up on their website or via phone. Next to the meter number (Zählernummer) and reading (Zählerstand), you must also provide your German bank details.

Read Our Related Guide

Best German Bank For English Speakers 

Staying with the basic city provider is a solid option. The price will vary from region to region. It is usually average across the market. With the Grundversorger, you have a two-week notice period. So you are not stuck in a one or two-year contract.

My Experience As A Real Basic City Provider Customer

Our Grundversorger are the Stadtwerke DĂĽsseldorf. After our move to a new apartment in December 2022, I stayed with our basic city provider since the price they offered was very competitive. However, after half a year, they increased the price. I quickly checked the pricing from Ostrom, which was better. This is when I changed to Ostrom.

Option 2: Change to Ostrom

Ostrom is a fantastic modern electricity provider in Germany. They are a start-up founded in 2020. They are the first and only 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). It uses 100% renewable energy; it is 100% 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 pay one flat fee, and you can cancel monthly, which is very hassle-free. Their electricity plan is available all over Germany, making moving within Germany easy.

In addition 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, your monthly installment price goes down as well. Ostrom does not keep the profits, unlike most other electricity providers.

In a 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.

Thanks to their mobile app, you can track your actual electricity consumption per day or month. That way, you can adjust your monthly installments should they be too high or low. This is a very convenient feature, especially when you are new to Germany. As you have no previous experience, your first installments are just a guesstimate.

Good To Know

Be aware that you will consume more energy in the winter months than in the summer months. A monthly installment should ideally balance out over the year. That means it’s ok if you pay more than you use in summer, as you will then most likely consume more than you pay in winter.

Changing to Ostrom is easy and convenient. They cancel your previous electricity contract for you. So you literally just need to sign up and that’s it.

Our Choice
Ostrom | Energy. Just Better.
  • English website & customer service
  • Flexible - cancel every month
  • One fair & transparent plan
  • 100% digital
  • Purely renewable electricity
Get Electricity from Ostrom
Transparency: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

My Experience As A Real Ostrom Customer

In July 2023, I changed to Ostrom. The change was seamless and fully digital. Within the first three months, Ostrom lowered its electricity price twice. Never had I experienced a price reduction before with any other provider.

What I like most about Ostrom is the ownership and control its mobile app provides me. On the 1st of every month, I enter the electricity reading into the app. It gives me an overview of my actual monthly consumption compared to my installment payment. Thanks to that new insight, I realized that we consume more electricity in our new apartment. Our monthly installment was too low.

I was able to adjust our monthly payment on the spot within the app to avoid getting a larger invoice at the end of the year. I am a very happy Ostrom customer.

Below, you can see two screenshots from my Ostrom mobile app. The image on the left shows our consumption vs. our monthly installment. Ostrom reduced the price in September (and August, which you can see in the image on the right). In November, I increased our monthly payment to 91 euros since our consumption was higher than estimated.

At the end of February 2024, Ostrom will yet again lower its unit price as well as the grid fees.

Screenshots of Ostrom App

Option 3: Compare Traditional Electricity Providers

The third option to save on your electricity bill is to compare various electricity providers in Germany. This is the best option for finding the cheapest electricity provider in Germany. I will outline how to do so via a comparison tool like StromAuskunft. The page is in German; however, the Chrome feature ‘Translate to English’ will help you out. I have created a small Wiki at the end of this guide with the most critical translations.

When choosing this option, you should make changing your electricity provider your yearly habit.

When changing your electricity provider, as described below, you usually benefit from bonuses for the first year only. The second year will be much more expensive. That’s why regular switching of providers is necessary to maintain a low price.

3 Simple Steps to change your electricity provider in Germany

StromAuskunft calculates the best rate for you with their electricity cost calculator. They also cancel your previous contract and arrange the switch smoothly.

Before signing up or changing an electricity provider, you need to have a German bank account. Once you have that, you can follow these three simple steps to change your electricity provider:

1. Compare electricity prices

Open the comparison tool. Select the number of people in your household or enter your approximate yearly consumption and postal code. Be sure to tick the box for ‘Germany’s best electricity providers’ so that you will only get reliable providers in the results. 

As per statistics, the approximate yearly electricity consumption in Germany is the following:

Number of PeopleAverage yearly electricity consumption
One Person2.100 kWh
Two Persons3.400 kWh
Family of 3 or more5.400 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 using comparison tools, electricity providers will offer high bonuses for new customers. A Sofortbonus you get paid right after signing the contract. However, a Neukundenbonus usually only gets paid after you have been a customer for a year. Oftentimes, the electricity price is more expensive for the second year. So it is hard to grasp what your actual price is. It simply is intransparent. These pricing models make a true comparison quite complicated.

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, although you would only get the bigger bonus after being a customer for 12 months.

Screenshot of the best electricity provider in Germany according to StromAuskunft
📸 Screenshot / Source: stromauskunft.de

As a next step, StromAuskunft offers you three different options on how to change the provider:

  1. A simple one-time change (Einmaliger Wechsel)
  2. A one-time change and a reminder when it is time to switch electricity providers again (Wechselservice)
  3. 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. With the Premium Wechselservice, you will have to confirm the new offer sent to you. This usually happens 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.

My Experience As A Real StromAuskunft Customer

From 2019 to 2023, I used StromAuskunft to compare and change electricity providers almost every year. Some of the providers that I used were eprimo and eon. However, I grew tired of changing every year. Also, I heard more often on the news that providers started rejecting customers if they had been a customer before, only for one year. It makes sense, they lose money by offering the great bonuses for the first year, hoping that you will become a long-term customer.

That’s when I started looking for a more long-term, hassle-free, yet price-oriented offer. Ostrom checks all the boxes for me, and I don’t plan on changing providers any time soon.

How to pay your electricity bill in Germany?

You pay your electricity bill in Germany via monthly direct debit (Lastschrift) from your German bank account. Your monthly installment acts as an estimated pre-payment. Once a year, you will receive the invoice for your actual electricity consumption.

Should your consumption be less than the estimated pre-payment, you will get the difference back. Should you use more, you will receive an extra invoice demanding an additional payment (Nachzahlung). For the following year, your monthly installment gets adjusted accordingly.

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 and start paying monthly installments. You don’t want to be surprised with a bill of several hundred euros.

Be sure to cancel your electricity contract when you move out. Unless your provider also services the area of your new home.

Ostrom, for example, services all of Germany. You must inform them of your move by providing the meter readings in your old and new apartment on the day of the move.

How much does 1 kWh cost in Germany?

In November 2023, the average price for 1 kWh in Germany was 45,73 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.

I currently pay 27,31 cents per 1 kWh as a unit price with Ostrom This shows how competitive their electricity plan is.

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 133,38 euros per month. 

Price graph for electricity in Germany
Source: bdew.de

Conclusion

Electricity in Germany ain’t cheap, but there is a way to save several hundred euros per year on electricity. If price is most important to you, comparing the current tariffs on a comparison website like StromAuskunft is your best option. If a transparent, modern English offer sounds more like what you are looking for, Ostrom is your best option.

German vocabulary 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
  • KĂĽndigungsfrist – 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 (usually only paid after completing 12 months of being a new customer)
  • Ă–kostrom – 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
  • RĂĽckzahlung – 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

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About the Author

Yvonne Koppen is a researcher and writer at Simple Germany, focusing on demystifying German bureaucracy for international skilled workers.

She has lived and worked abroad, which helps her understand how difficult a move to a new country can be. Beyond her professional pursuits, Yvonne loves to plan and go on road trips, puzzle, and do a triathlon here and there.

She is committed to creating accessible, empowering content through her writing and YouTube videos. Yvonne's passion for continuous learning and her ability to simplify complex topics make her an invaluable resource for expats seeking to navigate their new life in Germany.