FOR MEMBERS

Rising energy prices: How to save money on bills in Austria

Rising energy prices: How to save money on bills in Austria
Photo: Michael Schwarzenberger / Pixabay
In Austria, the winters are long and cold, which means most people are used to expensive energy bills. But this year prices are set to be higher than usual.

After 18 months of a pandemic and the many challenges that go along with it, the news that gas bills are set to soar in Austria this winter is not what most people want to hear.

The good news is that the rise in gas prices is not just happening in Austria – it’s a global issue as a result of the higher than usual demand during the pandemic that has cut into gas supplies.

The bad news is that prices are not expected to drop until spring 2022 and the burden is being placed on consumers, with countries like Germany and the UK already reporting an increase in gas prices for autumn and winter.

In Austria, the gas price index (ÖGPI), which is calculated by the Austrian Energy Agency, is currently five times as high as in September 2020.

Price increases in the standard tariffs have not yet been publicly announced but people are already taking to Twitter to ask questions about the rising costs.

Additionally, Karina Knaus, head of the Center for Economics, Consumers and Prices at the Austrian Energy Agency, told broadcaster ORF that it could be assumed prices will continue to rise in Austria as well.

Knaus said: “Since the price movements of the past few months have been very pronounced and unusual and there is currently no trend reversal in sight, it can be assumed that prices may rise here in the coming weeks and months as well.”

But Knaus added that sharp spikes should not be anticipated. 

She said: “In general, household gas prices in Austria are rather sluggish, so temporary and short-term movements on the wholesale market – neither upwards nor downwards – are usually not immediately passed on to the households, since procurement in this segment is also long-term.”

It’s still not good news though, which is leading many people to wonder how they can save money on energy bills in Austria.

Here’s what you need to know and what you can do. 

Energy consumption in Austria

According to the latest figures from Statistik Austria, the most commonly used energy source in Austria is electricity at 24.3 per cent, followed by fuel wood (19.3 percent), natural gas (18.6 percent) and district heating (13.5 percent). 

However, between July 2019 and June 2020, the average person used 25,140 gigajoules (gj) of natural gas compared to 7,841 gj of electricity.

Natural gas is also the second most popular energy source nationwide for space heating after fuel wood. 

This means a significant rise in gas prices will have an impact on household budgets this winter.

Modernise appliances with timers

Although energy prices are rising, this doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save money – such as modernising appliances with timers.

By connecting a heating system to a timer you can avoid using heating when there is nobody at home, or you can set it to come on just before you arrive home. A timer can also set heating to a lower temperature overnight.

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Similarly, an energy efficient shower head can help to save money on energy bills.

Showers are known for using less energy than baths, but taking a warm shower for more than 10 minutes actually uses more energy than filling a bathtub.  

This is because a regular showerhead lets through 20 to 30 litres of water every minute. Whereas an energy efficient shower head typically uses less than 12 litres of water per minute.

Energy cost savings can also be made without an energy efficient shower head by simply taking shorter showers at a lower temperature.

Be mindful of energy usage

Most of us consume energy at home all the time without thinking – especially if people work from home.

Instead, try being more mindful about energy use by turning the lights off in a room or switching off appliances when they are no longer needed.

Other money saving tips include making sure windows are closed when the heating is on, insulating any doors or windows that let in a draught and closing doors to stop the heat from escaping.

Additionally, use energy saving light bulbs and unplug unused electrical appliances.

READ ALSO: Eight ways to save money living in Vienna

Finally, take a good look at your energy bills to find out just how much energy your household is consuming. This will help you to figure out where some savings could be made.

If your energy bills seem unreasonably high, then consider shopping around for a better rate and switching your provider if possible.

With predictions that energy prices won’t start to go down until spring next year, fixed-price deals could be more economical for the winter.

Taxes and government subsidies on energy in Austria

In July, the Austrian parliament voted in favour of the Renewable Expansion Law.

The new law sets the goal of switching to 100 percent renewable electricity production by 2030, but for this to happen Austria has to invest in capacity expansion to create an additional 27 TWh of electricity generation.

In August, the Austrian Federal Government then pledged to provide a further €20 million to the Climate and Energy Fund. This provides one-off subsidies of between €150 and €250 per kWp for the installation of solar Photovoltaics (PV) systems of up to 50 kW.

The investment aims to help more small and medium sized businesses, as well as individuals, switch to renewable energy.

When it comes to tax on energy in Austria, the amounts are levied within the framework of the 2003 European Union (EU) Energy Tax Directive.

The Directive sets the minimum rate for the taxation of energy products in EU member states.

Useful vocabulary

Steuer – tax

Rechnungen – bills

Erdgas/Naturgas – natural gas

Strom – electricity

READ MORE: Gas bills set to soar in Austria


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