Saving Energy at Home: Tips for Citizens

Waschmaschine mit Energielabel

The energy supply in Berlin is currently secure. Nevertheless, saving energy is always a worthwhile goal – regardless of the crisis situation:

  • You save money.
  • You save resources.
  • You protect the climate.

If, despite all your efforts, you are threatened with debt due to high energy prices, you can turn to a debtors’ and insolvency counseling center.

Some simple measures are often enough to save a lot of energy at home. The greatest potential for energy savings lies in heating, which accounts for 73 percent of a household’s energy consumption on average. However, when it comes to electricity consumption, small changes can also lead to big effects. You can your own money without any larger sacrifices and make a contribution to resource and climate protection at the same time. Here are some energy-saving measures you can personally implement in your household.


Gas: Heating Properly and Economically

When it comes to your energy consumption, your heating behaviour offers significant potential for adjustments. A good place to start is to take a look at your radiators. Bleed your radiators regularly. The more air there is in the heating circuit, the more energy is needed to reach the set temperature. Clear the radiators of furniture or curtains, which prevent them from giving off the heat to the room in the most efficient way.

Try to lower the temperature at home if possible. For orientation: The Federal Environment Agency recommends a room temperature in living areas of no more than 20 degrees during the day. At night, the value is 18 degrees Celsius. Check whether the heating can be switched off completely at night and in unused rooms. This is often the case in well-insulated buildings. If you have shutters, close them overnight. Closed curtains also help keep the heat inside your home.

Programmable thermostats also help to save gas and heating costs. Intelligent control ensures that rooms are only heated when desired and only as much as necessary. If you have the option, you can replace the thermostats yourself. Programmable thermostats are installed in the same way as conventional, manual thermostats. The gas boiler itself also offers potential for optimisation. It should be cleaned and adjusted regularly by a specialist.

Economical heating also includes proper ventilation. Instead of leaving the window tilted open all day, it is better toair out a room several times a day – two to three times a day and for no more than five minutes in winter. If you are at home during the day, ventilate three to five times a day. Cross-ventilation is particularly effective. Turn down the heating before ventilating and open the windows as wide as possible.

Those who rely on fan heaters and infrared heaters to heat their home with electricity instead of gas should consider a few things. Heating with electricity is currently much more expensive than heating with gas. Electricity in itself is expensive. Furthermore, fan heaters are inefficient and only suitable for small areas. Infrared heaters are considered efficient, but they cost a lot of money. Even with them, you can’t heat the whole apartment.

Please note: Since October 2022, owners of buildings with gas heating are obliged to carry out a heating inspection.


Alternative to Gas Heating: Tips on Fan Heaters, Fireplaces and Coal Stoves

In view of high gas prices, consumers sometimes consider using alternative heating sources. However, these are not always cheaper.

Anyone who relies on heating fans, oil radiators or infrared heating to heat their home with electricity instead of gas should bear a number of things in mind. Heating with electricity is currently still significantly more expensive than heating with gas. Fan heaters are also inefficient and only suitable for small areas. Even with infrared heaters, you can’t heat the whole apartment. In addition, Berlin’s power grid is not designed for a larger number of electric heaters used in parallel. If too many electric heaters are used in parallel, the power grids could overload.

If you want to heat with wood or coal as an alternative, there are also some points to consider. If the fireplace or tiled stove has been out of operation for some time, you may first have to ask your landlord for permission. Then the chimney and system must be approved for use by a chimney sweep. The same applies if you want to install a new wood stove, although several approvals are usually necessary. Even if the fireplace or stove was only not used over the summer, the chimney should be checked and cleaned if necessary before it is put into operation. Keep in mind that wood and coal stoves produce more particulate matter than gas heaters. According to the Federal Immission Control Ordinance, limits and other requirements must be observed. Furthermore, you should install a carbon monoxide detector during the heating period.


Hot Water: Reduce Consumption

Your hot water consumption also offers potential for saving. If you can, reduce the boiler temperature to 60 degrees Celsius. Normally, the water is heated to 70 degrees by default to kill legionella. To ensure that the water is safe even at 10 degrees less, increase the storage tank temperature to 70 degrees Celsius once a week for a short time.

If you are only at home in the mornings and evenings, you can set your heating-internal timer so that the water is only heated when you are at home instead of over and over again around the clock. Furthermore, a lot of energy is lost when hot water is circulated. Therefore, if you can, stop the unnecessary circulation of water temporarily or completely. It is also sometimes possible to lower the circulation temperature.

Showering is more water-efficient than taking a full bath. Water-saving shower heads make an additional contribution to your energy- and water-saving efforts. Taps with aerators are recommended, as is washing your hands with cold water. As long as you use soap and wash your hands as thoroughly as usual, your hands will be just as clean as with warm water.


Electricity: The Proper Way to Handle Appliances

To save electricity, you can take a look at the many electricity consumers in your household, adjust their settings or replace individual appliances. Refrigerators and freezers use quite a lot of electricity. For your refrigerator, a temperature of 7 degrees Celsius is sufficient. The freezer should be set to -18 degrees Celsius to prevent food from spoiling. Defrost your freezer regularly – a thick layer of ice increases electricity consumption considerably. Your dishwasher and washing machine should only be run when fully loaded. Line drying your laundry is the free alternative to using a dryer.

Switch off standby appliances completely. If the plug is hard to reach, power strips with a switch and timers can help. Laptops and tablets use less power than desktop PCs. Smartphones are even more economical. Leave the television switched off as often as possible. This saves a lot of electricity – especially in the evenings and at night, when solar energy cannot be fed into the grid.

Replace old light bulbs and energy-saving bulbs with LED light bulbs. Consider replacing old appliances in your household with new products, which are often much more energy-efficient. If your landlord allows it, you may be able to install a balcony power plant. These plug-in solar power systems must be registered with the Federal Network Agency and with your own network operator.

Fenster in einem Altbau

DIY: Saving Energy with Little Effort

Even if you are not very handy with tools, you can save energy in your apartment or house in no time at all by making small adjustments, The following do-it-yourself ideas are reversible and do not require permission from your landlord.

Special window films create an additional layer of insulation on the glass and provide extra insulation, especially for single glazing or old double-glazed windows. The thermal films are usually stuck to the cleaned window with double-sided adhesive tape and smoothed out with the help of a hairdryer. Foils and adhesive residues can later be removed from the window without leaving a trace using water and a glass scraper .

Insulating the wall behind the radiator also saves energy. You can even do this without removing the radiator. For this DIY energy-saving measure, you need either insulating wallpaper or metal-coated bubble wrap and double-sided adhesive tape. If there is enough space behind the radiator, you can also insulate the niche with two layers of foil or wallpaper. The project requires four hands and some skill.

Sealing cracks in windows and doors is always a good idea. Draught stoppers and sealing tape from the hardware store not only keep the heat inside, they also keep cold air, dust, noise and insects out. Porous window sealing profiles can be replaced by a glazier. Often, the landlord will pay for this replacement. If this is not the case, you can use special sealing tape. A thick fabric curtain or thermal curtains also make a difference.

Related Content


Help and support for households experiencing financial hardship

Rising energy prices pose considerable challenges for many households. Relief and hardship schemes are being prepared at both federal and state level. More information


Berlin saves energy – Questions and answers

Emergency gas plan, energy price flat rate and gas levy: Questions and answers on the energy crisis. More information