Essential tips you need to know when looking for electricity providers in Germany. From how to choose the best energy provider for your budget, how much you can expect to pay for electricity in Germany, to how to sign an electricity contract, and a short review of the company we went with.
If you’re looking for electricity providers in Germany, chances are high that you’re moving into a new apartment. If that’s the case, let’s first start by CONGRATULATING you on overcoming this major hurdle! It’s not easy to rent an apartment or flat in Germany whether you’re an expat or not. Even locals complain about how challenging this task is.
And if you’re already stressing over figuring out how to sign up for electricity. Don’t worry – we promise that it’s a much simpler process if you follow the tips in this guide.
Not only will we explain how the sign-up process works. But we’ll also share the important things you should look out for when choosing an energy supplier in Germany. The best way to compare prices and how you can save HUNDREDS of Euros on your electricity bill! Plus, we’ll also share which electricity company we went with as expats living in Berlin.
Related Guide: Still in the process of finding an apartment or house to rent? Read our 12 tips for renting an apartment in Germany guide. We used these exact tips to successfully rent an apartment in Berlin in just under 3 months!
In this guidehide
- Electricity Providers in Germany
- How Do I Choose An Electricity Provider in Germany?
- Germany Electricity Prices
- How To Compare Electricity Prices in Germany
- How To Save Money When Signing An Electricity Contract in Germany?
- How To Sign Up For Electricity in Germany
- How To Change or Switch Electricity Providers
- Vattenfall Germany
- Ostrom Electricity Provider
Electricity Providers in Germany
If you’ve read our Renting Apartments in Berlin guide, you’ll probably know that utilities like electricity and gas are often not included in your ‘Warm Miete’ (German for warm rent). This is quite common when renting a long-term apartment, which means that you’ll need to sign your own electricity and/or gas contract with a utility company of your choice.
But with over 1,000 energy providers in the country, how do you go about picking the right one?
Fun Fact: Unlike in other countries, electricity is privatized in Germany. And that means that there are literally thousands of energy companies to choose from. But just because they’re all electricity providers doesn’t mean that they’re all equal. So make sure you pick the right one because it’s near impossible to get out of a contract mid-term after you’ve signed it.
How Do I Choose An Electricity Provider in Germany?
We know how tempting it is to just go with the cheapest electricity provider in Germany. But choosing the cheapest is not always the best option because it could end up costing you more in the long term. Here’s why.
The most important things you should consider when picking an electricity provider (or ‘Stromanbieter’ in German) are:
- The financial standing and track record of the company;
- How long you have to sign the electricity contract for (i.e. 12 months, 24 months, etc); and
- Whether you want to use regular (coal and nuclear-fueled) electricity or green and renewable energy.
Track Record Of The Energy Supplier
The first point is probably the most important. You should always choose an energy provider that has a strong financial standing (i.e. the company doesn’t have money problems), been around for at least 3 to 5 years and has a good track record.
This is essential because, in the past, there have been situations where customers have lost money to utility companies that later became bankrupt. This is why you should never sign-up with an electricity provider that asks you to pay your monthly bills in advance.
Related Guide: There’s been a wave of electricity providers in Germany filing for bankruptcy due to the energy crisis in Europe. If this has happened to you and they’ve prematurely canceled your contract – don’t worry. We’ve written an entire guide on this topic to help our fellow expats. Read our What To Do When Your Electricity Provider in Germany Files for Bankruptcy guide for our exact tips and recommendations.
Another easy way to choose an energy provider without having to analyze their financial balance sheets is to simply avoid the new and small electricity companies that no one really knows about.
To be on the safe side, go with one of the more well-known electricity providers in Germany like RWE, EnBW Energie, EON, Vattenfall, Yello, or NaturStrom, just to name a few. Otherwise, you should pick an electricity provider that doesn’t require you to sign-up for a fixed contract period (i.e. flexible monthly contract) like Ostrom.
Bonus Tip: If you need to sign a contract for both gas and electricity, then try your best to pick a utility provider that offers both. That way you can save yourself tons of admin by killing two birds with one stone.
Length of Electricity Contract
Most energy utility companies will require you to sign a contract for 12 or 24 months. The pro for signing a contract for a longer period is that most electricity providers in Germany offer a price guarantee. This means that you’ll pay the same X amount per kilowatt for your entire contract period. So if electricity prices increase, you’ll continue paying the lower rate.
But the flip side is that you’ll continue to pay the higher rate when electricity prices reduce. Yup! That’s why price guarantees aren’t always a good thing. And you can even end up paying higher electricity prices than you should when you fall for companies that offer ‘price guarantees’.
How exactly does that work? Find out why German electricity prices are more expensive when provider’s offer price guarantees.
The other con is that you can only cancel the contract at the end of the contract period. This means that if you, for some reason, want to switch to a new electricity provider in Germany, you won’t be able to until your existing contract ends (unless you leave the country).
So there really is no best contract length to sign up for. It’s entirely up to your personal preference. The only important thing to watch out for is making sure that the company you choose accepts monthly payments in arrears.
Bonus Tip: Want to sign a longer electricity contract but worried that you won’t be able to cancel it when moving to a new apartment? Don’t worry – you can always ‘take’ your contract with you. Just call your energy company to let them know you’re moving to a new address.
Electricity Providers in Germany with Flexible Contracts
If you’re not comfortable with committing to a 12 or 24 month electricity contract. Don’t worry – we’ve got a solution for you! Ostrom is one of the only electricity providers in Germany that offers a flexible monthly contract.
This means that you’re not required to sign a contract for any length of time. The only requirement is that you give a 4 week notice when you want to cancel. That’s it!
It’s a great option for those who have moved to Germany for work, studies or even digital nomads who are not sure how long they’ll be living in the country for.
Don’t believe us? Then check out Ostrom’s official website and see for yourself. And if you do choose to sign up with them, make sure to use our referral code: NOMADLOV35 to get a €35 bonus!
Regular vs Renewable Electricity
Lastly, but just as important is whether you want to use regular or renewable (green and eco-friendly) electricity. Yes – there are renewable energy providers in Germany! So now there’s really no excuse to not live a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
And the best part? Choosing to use 100% green energy powered by wind, solar, hydro, and biomass costs just a few extra Euros per month. This is the option we personally went for and the extra cost to use 100% sustainable vs regular energy, is less than a cup of coffee per month! Now that’s what we call a REAL bargain.
If you’re looking for renewable electricity providers (or Ökostrom anbieters in German), here’s a few companies you can look at:
Renewable Electricity Providers in Germany
Related Guide: Ever wondered why electricity prices in Germany are THE highest in the world? What the average energy bill is or how it’s calculated? Or whether it’s true that it’s cheaper to use electricity at night? We answer expats 8 most frequently asked questions in our Electricity in Germany guide.
Germany Electricity Prices
According to Statista, Germany has the highest electricity prices worldwide followed by Denmark and Belgium. And that’s because nearly half of its electricity prices are made up of taxes that are used to invest in sustainable and renewable sources of energy.
And exactly how much you can expect to pay for electricity in Germany will depend on where you live and how much infrastructure has been built for your city or town.
Related Guide: Electricity does not come cheap in Germany. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to lower your electricity bill. Here’s 9 tips to reduce and lower German Electricity costs!
How Electricity Bills Are Calculated in Germany
We’ll use electricity prices in Berlin to give you an idea of how much you should budget for. But before we get into that, let’s first explain how your monthly energy bill is calculated.
Unlike in other countries, your monthly bill is calculated based on your estimated electricity consumption, not your actual consumption. This happens because you only receive your electricity bill annually in Germany when your actual meter reading is taken down by your provider.
But to avoid people having to fork out a huge bill at the end of 12 months. Energy companies use an estimated electricity usage amount to calculate what you should pay monthly. So when you finally receive your monthly bill, you’ll either get money refunded to you because your usage was less than estimated. Or you have to pay extra for using more than your estimated energy consumption.
Your monthly bill for the following year will then be adjusted lower or higher based on your actual energy consumption in the previous year.
It all sounds a bit confusing. But it’s quite simple once you wrap your head around the concept. Plus, the upside of this method is that it can make budgeting for your cost of living in Germany a little easier since your monthly bills are a constant pre-determined amount.
The downside, however, is that you need to keep your energy consumption at a consistent level so that you don’t get any surprise bills to pay later.
Related Guide: Ever wondered how much it costs to live in Berlin? Read our Cost of Living in Berlin guide to find out what monthly expenses you should budget for.
How Much Can You Expect To Pay For Electricity in Berlin?
How much you can expect to pay for electricity in Berlin (or anywhere in Germany) will depend on the number of people living in the house or apartment, the area you live in, and the size of your apartment.
In general, German energy companies will estimate an average consumption of 1,500 kilowatts a year for one person. For every additional person living in the same household, an additional 1,000 kilowatts per year is included.
But the actual consumption will, of course, vary depending on your lifestyle and how many electricity-hungry appliances you have at home.
On average, you can expect to pay around €50 to €70 per month for electricity if you live alone in Berlin. This assumes that you’re using 125 kilowatts of electricity per month or 1,500 kilowatts per year.
And for 2 people sharing an apartment in Berlin, budget around €40 to €50 per person per month. This assumes that together you’re using 208 kilowatts of electricity per month or 2,500 kilowatts per year.
How To Pay Electricity Bill in Germany?
You can pay most electricity providers in Germany via bank transfer or by debit order. Some might only offer the debit order option. In that case, you’ll need a German bank account to pay your monthly energy bills.
Don’t have a German bank account? Don’t worry! Find out how you can easily open a German bank account (no Anmeldung required) for FREE in less than 10 minutes.
How To Compare Electricity Prices in Germany
With over 1,000 energy suppliers in Germany, you’ll want to compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal before signing a contract.
The best way to compare electricity providers is to use price comparison websites like Check24 or Verivox. Then simply insert your postal code, select your district, and how many people are living in the apartment to compare prices.
Bonus Tip: Many energy companies offer discounts and bonuses to attract new customers. These bonuses range from getting cashback to free smartphones and even washing machines.
How To Save Money When Signing An Electricity Contract in Germany?
Many expats living in Germany don’t know this. But you can save HUNDRED of Euros on your electricity bill every year by doing this one simple thing.
Signing a new contract with a different energy provider when your current contract ends! This way you can benefit from the once-off bonuses which often equate to more than €200 of savings per year!
And the cherry on top? It’s super quick and easy to do too. All you got to do is choose your new electricity provider. Then they’ll contact your current provider and do all the admin and run around for you.
Bonus Tip: This is essential to do when you’re moving into a new apartment. Otherwise, you’ll be paying more than you need to if you just continue with the contract the previous tenant left behind. So make sure to call your energy provider of choice to create a new contract as soon as you’ve signed your new lease.
How To Sign Up For Electricity in Germany
How you sign up for electricity in Germany will vary depending on which provider you go with. But the process should be fairly similar and easy to do. Make sure you have these documents and information ready before you contact your utility provider of choice.
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What Documents Do You Need to Sign Up For Electricity
- Your address (Anmeldung document is not required)
- The identification number of your electricity meter (or Zählernummer in German);
- The meter reading on the date that you moved into the apartment or the date when you want to start your new contract (also called ‘Stand’ in German)
- Full names of the individuals who will be paying the monthly utility bills
- Estimated yearly electricity usage (optional)
- German bank account number if you want to set up a debit order right away (optional)
And that’s it! Once you have all these details, simply give your provider of choice a call and say that you want to sign a new contract.
What To Expect After Signing Electricity Contract
If your German isn’t great, then make sure you find a company that provides English customer support. Vattenfall and Ostrom have a dedicated English customer support line, which is one of the main reasons why we recommend expats go with them.
After you have confirmed all your details telephonically, you should expect 2 letters. The first is a confirmation letter to make sure that all your details have been logged correctly. All you’ve got to do is double-check that the identification number of your electricity meter, starting meter reading, and your names are correct.
If not, then give your utility provider a call to update your details. And if it’s all correct, then you can just wait for your second letter.
The second letter contains the actual terms of the contract as well as your monthly estimates of what you need to pay for electricity. Both letters will likely be written in German (even for Vattenfall) so make sure you use Google Translate’s camera function to easily translate it to English.
If you prefer signing your contract in English, then go with Ostrom. Not only is everything conducted in English (contract and all communication), but everything is done on their app so there’s no paperwork at all!
Bonus Tip: If you’re moving to a new apartment, make sure that the name on your postbox has been changed so that you can receive your letters from the utility provider. You’ll also need to redirect all your other essential mail to your new address. Find out how to do this for FREE in under 5 minutes – read our Mail Forwarding in Germany guide.
How To Change or Switch Electricity Providers
Changing or switching electricity providers in Germany is surprisingly easy and quick to do. All you got to do is choose your new utility provider. Then they’ll contact your current provider and do all the admin and run around for you.
We recently switched from Vattenfall to Ostrom and the process took less than 5 minutes to do! Simply head to their website, insert all the information listed earlier (mentioned under documents required), and Ostrom will contact your ‘ex’ (energy provider) to cancel your old contract.
We signed our first electricity contract with Vattenfall when we first moved to Berlin. We chose Vattenfall’s Natur24 plan. It was slightly more expensive than their Easy plans. But we wanted to do our part in being more environmentally friendly. So we chose the 100% renewable energy option. The Natur24 plan was also cheaper on a monthly basis than the Natur12 plan so were happy to get the price guarantee for 2 years.
Plus, when we added the instant and loyalty bonus we get as first-time clients. Our monthly energy bill was only €2 more expensive than the unsustainable, regular option.
But one thing you should know though is that the instant bonus is not really ‘instant’. Your instant bonus only kicks in after 2 months into the contract. Whereas your loyalty bonus is only paid out after 12 months.
The upside though, is that Vattenfall actually pays both these bonuses as cash into your German bank account. Other energy companies may not do this and will simply offset the discounts against your monthly payments.
Vattenfall Strom Review
Overall, we’ve been pretty happy with the service provided by Vattenfall. The fact that they have a dedicated hotline for English-speaking customers is really helpful for expats like us who are still in the process of learning German.
Their online platform is also easy to use. We like that we can easily log on to update our details, change our payment information or record our monthly electricity meter readings so we can track our monthly consumption.
The only downside to Vattenfall is that it required back and forth paperwork during the sign-up process. All the contract terms and agreements are only available in German, so it takes longer to translate and read it. And lastly, it’s not easy to adjust our monthly utility payments to match our actual consumption.
Ostrom Electricity Provider
If those downsides are a deal-breaker for you, then you should consider Ostrom. This electricity provider is completely disrupting the energy sector in Germany.
Not only is Ostrom a renewable (green) energy provider, but they’re expat-friendly too (i.e. provides both German and English customer support). Plus, they’re one of the only utility companies that offers flexible contracts with no 12 or 24 month lock-ins. You just need to give 4 weeks notice to cancel – no questions asked!
That’s not all. You can completely skip the whole paperwork and ‘snail mail’ process with Ostrom because everything is done on their app. This includes making adjustments to your monthly payments. So you don’t need to wait 12 months to get your money back OR get a nasty surprise bill (‘Nachzahlung’) later.
We can finally make the switch to Ostrom now that we’ve reached the end of our 24 month contract. Don’t make the same mistake as us! Save money and the potential heartache, and sign a flexible, month-to-month contract with Ostrom.
Get €35 bonus with Ostrom using our referral code: NOMADLOV35 and try it for yourself!