Berlin Saves Energy – Questions and Answers


Energy Supply

  • Is the energy supply secure?

    According to the Bundesnetzagentur, the gas supply in Germany is currently stable and security of supply is guaranteed. However, preparing for the coming winter of 2023/2024 remains a challenge. With regard to the power supply, the Federal Ministry of Economics assesses the situation as stable and does not see any critical developments at present.

  • Should I be preparing for an energy crisis?

    Private households belong to the group of so-called protected customers in the gas supply. It is therefore very unlikely that they will be affected by mandatory gas supply disconnections. Generally speaking, our society is highly dependent on a secure gas and power supply. When the power goes out, the heating, computer, stove and lights, for example, no longer work. Power outages are not uncommon. However, they are usually limited to very short periods. Crisis precautions in the private sphere are sensible nevertheless. Being prepared helps bridge supply failures to some extent without having to rely on help immediately.

  • How can I prepare for an extended gas or power outage?

    Make sure there is enough water and food in the household. Flashlights with batteries and a bag with your most important documents and essential medicines are useful to have on hand. A battery-powered radio is also recommended.

    The website of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance offers formation on how to prepare for power outages and disasters, including a checklist with suggestions for emergency supplies.

    To ensure that you are warned in good time in the event of a crisis or disaster, you should install a warning app on your cell phone. The app “KATWARN “ of the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, available for Android and Apple, warns the population in emergencies.

  • What is the gas emergency plan?

    The Gas Emergency Plan (Notfallplan Gas) regulates the gas supply in Germany in crisis situations. It is comprised of several stages. The early warning stage is called if there are indications of an event that could lead to a significant deterioration of the gas supply. The alert stage is called if there is a disruption in the gas supply or an exceptionally high demand for gas that could cause a significant deterioration in the supply situation. At this stage, the market can still cope with the disruption or demand. This stage is followed by the emergency stage, which is called when the situation is so critical that the state intervenes in the market.

    The early warning stage and the alert stage are declared by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection, while the emergency stage is declared by the federal government. Currently, the alert stage applies.

  • What does the declaration of the alert stage mean for me?

    The declaration of the alert stage has no direct impact on the gas supply for private customers. Households can continue to heat their homes, cook and heat their water with gas. Nevertheless, it is important to be economical in the everyday consumption of electricity and heat within one’s means and thus contribute to the security of supply. The calculation is simple: what is not consumed now will be available later on.

  • What happens in the event of a gas shortage?

    In cases where the emergency level applies, the Federal Network Agency acts as a so-called federal load distributor. This means that the authority decides on the distribution of gas within Germany in close coordination with the network operators. The aim here is to make sure that the “vital supply” of gas is secured.

    In the event of a national gas shortage, all gas consumer gas are called upon to reduce the proportion of their gas consumption that is not vital. This applies to protected customers such as hospitals and daycare centers as well as to non-protected customers such as industry. However, the vital demand of non-protected customers is narrowly defined.

    Even in the event of a national gas shortage, your heating will not be turned off, but measures will be taken to ensure the best possible gas supply. Therefore, even in a gas shortage situation, it is not advisable to resort to an electric heater. If too many electric heaters are used in parallel, they could overload the power grids.

  • How high is the risk of a power outage?

    Power outages are not uncommon, but are usually limited to very short periods of time. They can be caused by damage to power. lines due to construction work, for example. Oftentimes, consumers do not even notice when a power outage occurs.

    Power supply interruptions are part of everyday grid operations. In an international comparison, they occur very rarely in Germany. The German power grid is one of the most reliable in the world. On average, each Berlin electricity customer was without power for 8.3 minutes in 2021. This figure is significantly lower than the national average of 12.7 minutes.

  • I am receiving care at home. How can I prepare for a power outage?

    A (short or long) power outage can be particularly critical for certain people. These include, in particular, people in home care who are dependent on electrical aids such as ventilators or suction devices. This group of people is not fully registered centrally with any state institution and therefore cannot be contacted or evacuated automatically in the event of an incident. People in home care or their relatives are advised to take private precautions to be prepared in the event of a power failure.

    Power outages are rare in Berlin and usually only last for a short time. Nevertheless, in exceptional cases there may be a longer power interruption, for example due to a sudden damage event. Technically necessary shutdowns at the instruction of the transmission system operator cannot be completely ruled out either. We therefore recommend that people in home care in particular take precautions on their own responsibility in order to be prepared for a longer period without electricity. The battery capacity of essential electrical aids should be checked and power generators or power banks should be purchased if necessary. Those affected should also discuss possible scenarios and how to deal with them with those around them. If an outpatient care service is involved in caring for the person in need of care at home, it can be involved in crisis preparedness in an advisory capacity.

    Further information on preparing for power outages, e.g. for emergency supplies, can be found on the website of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance.

  • What do I do in the event of a power outage?

    First, check whether the cause for the power outage is in your household. In order to do this, check the fuse box of your house or apartment to see if a fuse or the RCD has blown. This may have been triggered, for example, by a defective electrical appliance or other sources of error in the household. If you were able to identify the source of the power outage in your household, please contact an electrician. If you cannot find the cause of the power failure in your own hosuehold, please contact your responsible distribution network operator. In Berlin, this is the Stromnetz Berlin GmbH.

    Stromnetz Berlin’s hotline is available around the clock, seven days a week. The corresponding telephone number is: +40 (0)800 211 25 25. Calls to this number are free of charge.

    Power supply disruptions are communicated promptly both on the Stromnetz Berlin website and via the X-channel (formerly Twitter) @stromstoerung.

  • What is a blackout or a brownout?

    A blackout is an uncontrolled failure of the power supply that affects larger parts of the grid. A blackout is not caused by a lack of power supply, but by serious disturbances and errors in network operation. A controlled intervention in the power supply, on the other hand, is called brownout. In this event, power grids are shut down regionally and for a limited period of time in order to avoid a widespread undersupply. Neither scenario is expected to occur at this time.

  • How does the power supply in Berlin remain stable?

    The best precaution is to ensure that temporary overloads do not occur. Basically, an overload occurs when the load on the power grid exceeds its capacity. In the current situation, the power supply is not acutely threatened. Nevertheless, everyone should save electricity, because this helps to reduce the consumption of gas for electricity generation. There are many ways to save electricity in everyday life, e.g. by using LED lamps, not using standby on electronic devices or buying power-saving appliances.

    In the event of an imminent overload of the power grid, a temporary and spatially limited shutdown may be necessary. This is a preventive measure that the network operator must take to prevent the grid from being damaged by the overload. It is a very unlikely scenario, but grid operators must prepare for it nonetheless – and that is exactly what Stromnetz Berlin GmbH does.

    Approximately 36,000 kilometers of power cables are laid in Berlin’s urban area. The power grid can be thought of as a series of honeycombs: If one honeycomb has to be shut down for a short time due to imminent overload, the other honeycombs can continue to be supplied with power.

  • Are power grid operators allowed to cut off the power?

    In exceptional situations, the grid operator is entitled to make targeted power cuts in order to ensure the stability of the grid. This is because grid operators have the task of maintaining the stability of their network at all times, thus safeguarding the power supply for customers.

Energy Debt

  • What can I do about debts from energy bills?

    Contact a recognized debtor and insolvency counseling center in your district as soon as possible. You can find the list of advisory services on the website of the Senate Department for Consumer Protection. Please note that some of these services may only be available in German language.

    Recipients of social welfare (Sozialhilfe) or Bürgergeld should also contact their social welfare office and the job center.

    If you have already received a disconnection notice for electricity or heating or if an energy supply disconnection has already been imposed, you might be eligible to receive a one-time subsidy from the Energy Debt Hardship Fund. All the offices mentioned above can advise you on how to apply to the hardship fund.

  • Where can I get financial aid if I can't pay my heating bill?

    If you are unable to pay your heating bill or demand due to increased prices, the following applies:

    • For citizens with low incomes: Contact the job center and apply for for benefits according to SGB II (Citizens’ Income/Bürgergeld). Even if your income usually covers your needs and you are therefore not permanently entitled to benefits, a high heating bill or high additional charges can justify a one-time claim for unemployment benefit II or social welfare. It is important that you file the application for subsistence benefits for a single month by the end of the third month after the due month. The job center will check whether the costs or your energy consumption are reasonable and whether you are entitled to benefits based on your income.
    • For retirees with low pensions: Contact the social welfare office in your district and apply for basic benefits according to SGB XII (social welfare/Grundsicherung). Even if your pension usually covers your needs and you therefore do not have a permanent claim to basic security benefits, a high heating bill or additional charges can justify a one-time claim. It is important that you file the application for basic benefits in the month in which the additional payment is due. The social welfare office will checks whether the costs or your energy consumption are reasonable and whether you are entitled to benefits based on your income.
  • Why are my heating costs only partially covered?

    For your heating costs to be covered in full, they must be considered reasonable. This is calculated with the help of the nationwide heating index. If the limit values are exceeded, there will be an examination checking whether higher heating costs are also appropriate in the individual case. The examination of the appropriateness of heating costs according to the Second and Twelfth Books of the Social Code is based on annual consumption. The costs for heating are generally considered reasonable if individual consumption does not exceed the limits (AV Wohnen).

    If your consumption is higher than the amount deemed reasonable, it will be examined whether there are demonstrable individual reasons (such as illness or a poorly insulated apartment) that justify exceeding the limit. If your consumption exceeds the limits without good reason, you will be informed and asked to adjust your consumption. If you do not comply, the costs will no longer be covered in full.

Heating Cost Subsidy for Oil, Wood Pellet, Coal and Liquid Gas Heating Systems

  • I heat with oil, wood pellets or coal. Is there any financial support for me?

    The Berlin relief package provides subsidies for households that heat with coal, oil or pellets. 75 million euros have been earmarked in the state budget for the Berlin heating cost assistance program. In addition, further funds from the relief package planned by the federal government are to strengthen the program. According to the Königstein Key, the state of Berlin expects to receive a further 93 million euros.

    Households and business owners whose heating costs for oil, pellets, coal or liquid gas increased at least 1.7-fold in 2022 receive a subsidy of €100 to €2000. In order to claim the subsidy, applications can be submitted online from January 31, 2023. The subsidy amounts to 80% of the heating costs that exceed 1.7 times the costs for the year 2021.

  • How much is the heating cost subsidy for oil, pellet, coal and liquid gas heating?

    When calculating the subsidy, the 2021 heating cost average serves as a reference value. The heating cost subsidy amounts to 80% of the 2022 heating costs in excess of 1.7 times the 2021 costs.

    Example 1:

    A household spent €1000 on heating with coal in 2021. In 2022, consumption remained the same but the bill was €2200. This corresponds to an increase by a factor of 2.2. The household is therefore eligible to apply for the subsidy. The amount of the grant is 80% of the difference between €2200 and €1700 (increase in heating costs in 2021 by a factor of 1.7), i.e. 80% of €500. Thus, the household receives €400.

    Example 2:

    A household spent €1200 on heating with liquid gas in 2021. The cost for 2022, assuming consumption remains the same, is €2160. This corresponds to an increase by a factor of 1.8. The amount of the subsidy is 80% of the difference between €2160 and €2040 (increase in heating costs in 2021 by a factor of 1.7), i.e. 80% of €120. Since the calculated sum (€96) is below the de minimis limit of €100, no subsidy is paid.

  • What do I have to do to benefit from the heating cost subsidy?

    If you heat with coal, pellets, oil or liquid gas and your heating costs in 2022 were at least 1.7 times as high as in 2021, you can apply online for the subsidy. The application will be available on the website of the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) from January 31, 2023.

Hardship Fund for Power and Heating Cut-Offs

  • My power or heating is about to be cut. What can I do?

    To avert or lift electricity and heating energy cut-offs, you can apply for a benefit from the Energy Debt Hardship Fund, provided certain requirements are met.

    Applications are submitted online via the service portal of the State of Berlin.

    The State of Berlin offers numerous assistance and advisory services in the that can help you with the application process. You can find a list on the website of the Senate Department for Consumer Protection.

    In addition, you can also get assistance directly from the customer center of your energy supply company.

    The hardship fund’s approval office will inform you via e-mail whether your application has been approved or rejected. You will be asked to seek energy debt counseling. The payment of the benefit is independent of this. In your own interest, however, you should definitely comply with the request. Small changes can help you in dealinf with the price development and in avoiding future distress. These include, for example, agreements with your energy supply company to adjust your deductions as well as energy saving tips and tricks.

  • Which requirements do I have to meet to receive a grant from the Hardship Fund?

    The most important requirements are a residence in Berlin and a statement from your utility company documenting an effective or impending cut-off from the heating energy or power supply for your private residence. Furthermore, you must declare that you cannot cover your energy debts with your income. Your household income must be below a certain limit. In order to make sure if you are eligible for a grant from the Hardship Fund, just submit an application. For more information, including information on income limits, visit the Service Portal.

Further Aid and Support

  • How are corporations and businesses being supported?

    The State of Berlin supports Berlin businesses and corporations with a number of relief measures. These include, the loan program Liquidity Assistance Energy, the Energy Hardship Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, the Heating Cost Assistance and the State Program for Energy Consulting. The offers are aimed at companies and self-employed persons in Berlin who have run into financial difficulties due to rising energy costs.

    Detailed information can be found here: Aids and Relief Packages for Corporations

Deutschland Ticket & Sozialticket

  • Will the 29-euro ticket be continued?

    The Senate is currently working on an attractive follow-up solution for the 29-euro Berlin AB ticket. The reintroduction of the 29-euro subscription is planned for early summer 2024.

  • What will change with the Sozialticket?

    The price for the Berlin social ticket (Berlin-Ticket S) was reduced from €27.50 to €9 per month on 1 January 2023. The price is initially valid until the end of 2025. Berliners who receive state benefits such as citizen’s allowance, social assistance, basic security, housing allowance, benefits under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act or victim’s pensions are eligible.

    In order to use the Sozialticket-S, you need a proof of eligibility and a VBB-Kundenkarte Berlin-S, which you can currently only apply for online at BVG.

  • How much is the Deutschland Ticket?

    The ticket costs 49 euros a month and thus 588 euros for a yearly subscription. The amount will be debited on a monthly basis.

  • Which means of transport can I use with the Deutschland Ticket?

    The Deutschland Ticket is valid on local public transport services in Germany, which include trams, local buses, light rail trains, underground trains, S-Bahn trains and some local ferries. It is also valid on regional trains (RE, FEX, RB and IRE) regardless of the operator.

    The Deutschland Ticket is not valid on long-distance trains (e.g. IC, EC, ICE, Flixtrain) and long-distance buses. It is also not valid on means of transportation that are operated predominantly for tourist purposes, such as museum railroads, sightseeing buses or excursion boats.

  • Is the Deutschland Ticket included in the Berlin school student ticket?

    Public transportation in Berlin will continue to be free for school students, but the Berlin school student ticket does not include the Deutschland Ticket. Children (6 years and older) who want to use the Deutschland Ticket have to purchased it at regular price. For children under 6 years, public transportation in Berlin is free of charge anyway.

Renewable Energy

  • How expensive is a plug-in solar device (balcony power plant) and is the purchase financially worthwhile?

    The device prices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so comparing prices is worthwhile. In addition to the acquisition costs, the device’s location, orientation and service life and the amount of the generated electricity consumed in the household are the deciding factors for the device’s profitability. For rented apartments with an annual consumption of about 2,000 kilowatt hours (2-4 persons), up to a quarter of the annual electricity consumption can be generated with the plug-in solar device. This corresponds to savings of up to 150 euros per year.

  • Where can I apply for subsidies for a balcony solar system?

    The subsidy for plug-in balcony solar systems is an extension of the SolarPlus subsidy program. Applications can be submitted online via the IBB Business Team website (in German).

  • How much is the subsidy for a plug-in solar device?

    The subsidy for a plug-in solar device amounts to up to 500 euros per apartment. If the device costs less than 500 euros, the subsidy will cover the actual costs. Tenants with a primary residence in Berlin are eligible to apply.

  • How does the subsidy program for balcony solar systems work?

    Before ordering or purchasing your plug-in solar device, you first need to complete the full application process of the subsidy program. Follow these six steps and generate your own electricity with a plug-in device from your balcony:

    1. Obtain landlord’s consent
    2. Apply for subsidy
    3. Purchase plug-in solar device
    4. Register plug-in solar device with Stromnetz Berlin. If your household does not have a bidirectional meter or a meter with a backstop, one will be installed free of charge by Stromnetz GmbH or by a specialist company commissioned by Stromnetz GmbH. This measure is required by law.
    5. Register the system in the market master data register of the Federal Network Agency (link in German)
    6. Connect and put your plug-in solar device into operation one week after registering with Stromnetz Berlin
  • Is my balcony suitable for a plug-in solar device?

    Before you purchase a balcony solar system, you should check whether your balcony allows you to sensibly set up and fasten the device. The following tips can help:

    • Orientation: a plug-in solar device can deliver the highest yield when installed on a south-facing balcony. However, east or west facing balconies are also suitable. You can increase the yield significantly by installing the solar module at an oblique angle (about 30 degrees) to the sun instead of vertically.
    • Shading: Shading reduces the yield. Also, consider that the sun is lower in winter and therefore shadows are longer.
    • Mounting the device: It is especially important that the modules are securely fastened so as not to endanger anyone and to avoid damage.
  • How do you connect a plug-in solar device?

    Do not use a multiple plug under any circumstances. If several devices are plugged into a multiple socket, the feed currents will add up. This can lead to an overload and cause a fire hazard.

    The plug-in solar device must be connected to a suitable circuit to avoid danger. You can find out whether the circuit is suitable from your landlord or a specialist electrical company. The rules of the VDE (Verband der Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e.V.) specify that it must be ensured that no parts of the plug through which current flows can be touched. Plug-in devices are safe if the parts through which current flows are covered and thus cannot be touched. Permanently connected plug-in solar devices are also safe.

    The German Society for Electricity (DGS) considers the connection of plug-in solar devices via a normal protective contact plug (Schuko plug) to be safe if the DGS safety standard is met. The DGS product overview shows which devices currently meet the DGS safety standard (website in German).

    There is currently no product standard for plug-in solar devices. A draft is available and is expected to be adopted in the course of the year.

Saving Energy

  • I would like to save energy, but I don't know how. Where can I get help?

    Regardless of the energy crisis, saving energy always pays off – for your wallet and for the climate. You can start by checking out the easy-to-implement tips on our energy-saving page. If you need further support and professional expertise, you can contact the respective advice center in your district or arrange a free energy consultation with the Verbraucherzentrale Berlin. Please be aware that most consultations are only offered in German language.

  • Is heating with electricity a worthwhile alternative to gas heating?

    No. In view of high gas prices, it is natural to consider using other heating sources. However, electric heating is not a good alternative here. Heating with electricity is still significantly more expensive than heating with gas. In addition, fan heaters are inefficient and only suitable for small areas; the same applies to infrared heaters. In addition, Berlin’s power grid is not designed for a large number of electric heaters used in parallel. If too many electric heaters are used at the same time, the power grid could become overloaded.

  • Do I need to have the efficiency of my gas heating checked?

    According to experts, many gas heating systems in Germany are not optimally adjusted and consume unnecessary amounts of energy. Since October 1, 2022, owners of buildings with gas heating in Germany are required to have their heating systems checked. Thus also in Berlin all gas heatings must be examined whether they are energy-saving enough adjusted.

    The efficiency check of gas heating systems is part of the federal government’s measures to secure the energy supply in the current gas shortage situation. It is regulated in a federal ordinance (EnSimiMaV). According to § 2 of the ordinance, all gas heating systems in Germany must be inspected to determine whether they are set to be energy-efficient enough. If the inspection reveals that the current settings cause unnecessary energy losses, building owners are required to have the necessary adjustments made to the heating system settings by September 15, 2024 at the latest.