Information on energy consumption: Am I perhaps heating too much?

The heating hasn't turned on yet.

Information on energy consumption: Am I perhaps heating too much?

The heating hasn't turned on yet. Irrespective of this, landlords must inform their tenants monthly of how high their current energy consumption is when this is read digitally. Which is a pretty good idea in principle and especially for the coming months.

How much energy does my heating actually use when the thermostat is set to two instead of three? What are the effects if I turn them off at night? The new obligation for homeowners to provide information about the heating behavior of their tenants could provide answers to such questions.

Since January, homeowners have had to send their tenants monthly information about their heating energy consumption, as stipulated by the new Heating Costs Ordinance. In any case, if remotely readable measuring devices are already installed in the apartment. According to the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia, older analogue measuring devices will generally have to be replaced by digital ones by the end of 2026.

The regulation "is intended to increase the awareness of residents for their heating behavior," says Rolf Bosse from the tenants' association in Hamburg. Previously, they only received information about their consumption with their annual bill. "Then everything is actually already running, the tenants can no longer influence their consumption afterwards," says Bosse. "With the monthly information, they can now react more directly and quickly."

The notification can be sent in paper form or by e-mail, there are also web portals or apps with appropriate access to the data. The following minimum information must be provided:

- Consumption in the last month in kilowatt hours

- Comparison of this consumption with the consumption of the previous month and with the corresponding month of the previous year

- Comparison with the average consumption in the property or a user group

In the annual bills, information on the fuel mix used is now mandatory, as well as an explanation of taxes and levies and a comparison of the current energy consumption of the tenant with the respective consumption in the same period of the previous year.

Not all homeowners are subject to this requirement. But only those who were previously required to use consumption-based billing according to the heating cost ordinance, explains Inka-Marie Storm from the House Owners' Association

Examples: This does not apply to landlords of an apartment in a two-family house if they live in an apartment themselves. Monthly updates are also not required for units with gas heating. "But in rented apartment buildings and homeowners' associations, this information is regularly mandatory as soon as remotely readable measuring technology is installed there," says Storm.

What all this will bring remains to be seen. "This information can only provide a picture of actual consumption, and the reasons are not always identified," says Inka-Marie Storm. So it will depend on how residents and homeowners deal with it - whether they look for causes and eliminate them.

Consumer advocate Rolf Bosse also sees it this way: "High consumption is first of all an indication that something is wrong." Some things could be due to the personal heating behavior of the tenant. But there is also a lot to do with the heater itself.

It may be that the radiators have not been adequately vented and the heat is not fully getting there. Or the thermostatic valve is broken or the entire heating system is not optimally adjusted. "The heating behavior of the residents is a building block that should not be underestimated," says Bosse. "More important, however, is the technical condition of the heating and the building. Optimization here usually results in much greater savings."

However, the new regulations have one disadvantage: new registration systems and the monthly information service cost money. It is highly unlikely that this will remain cost-neutral for the tenant.

The German Tenants' Association (DMB) also assumes that the costs for the service will later be reflected in the utility bills. After all: "After three years it should be checked whether this information is of any use and how much the tenants are financially burdened with it," says Jutta Hartmann from the DMB.

Good to know: If the homeowner does not meet his new obligations, this can even result in sanctions. Tenants can reduce their share of the costs by three percent if the building owner does not install remotely readable devices in a timely manner or does not comply with his information obligations, according to the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center.

Tenant advisor Rolf Bosse therefore advises: Tenants should definitely approach their landlords now to receive monthly information if the requirements for this are met. Ultimately, they should be able to understand their consumption behavior.

"Any sanctions should be checked and enforced through the local tenants' associations," said Bosse. It is not yet clear when exactly cuts can be claimed.

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