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Cost of living: How to save money on energy bills in Austria

The cost of living in Austria is rising but there are ways to save money. Here's how to tackle those all-important energy bills.

Energy costs
Energy bills are rising but there are ways to cut costs. Photo: Pexels / Pixabay

It’s no secret that energy costs are rising and that households in Austria are set for even higher bills in the future.

This is due to an increase in wholesale gas prices, a surge in demand since the end of Covid-19 lockdowns and the ongoing war in Ukraine that is further hitting energy prices.

According to data from Statista, electricity prices in Austria in May were €184.52 per megawatt hour – an increase of almost 237 percent on the same month in 2021.

But the record high was recorded in March 2022 with €282.63 per megawatt hour.

READ MORE: Austria unveils €6 billion package to fight rising cost of living

 The Local also recently reported how the state-run utility company Wien Energie is planning to increase bills by 92 percent for around 440,000 households in Vienna.

The proposed price hike still needs to be evaluated and approved by the city, but a rise in bills is on the cards in the capital.

Meanwhile, the amount of gas being delivered to Austria by Russia has reduced in the past week, further raising concerns of energy shortages in the future. 

Despite the grim news though, there are ways to reduce the amount of energy we use while also cutting costs.

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

Avoid using air conditioning

Air conditioning is expensive to run so try investing in an electrical fan instead, which is significantly cheaper to power.

In fact, Der Standard reports that a fan uses 95 percent less energy than a mobile AC unit with an average cost of just €7 per summer (based on 60 days of use).

Whereas a mobile air conditioning unit could cost €170 in additional electricity costs.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to cool down an apartment is to keep all blinds, curtains and windows closed during the day to keep out the heat.

In Vienna, there are even government subsidies available to purchase external blinds and shutters for an apartment. Although permission from a landlord is required for rental properties.

The City of Vienna website has more information about this scheme.

Turn down the heating

Leonore Gewessler, Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (Greens), is advising Austrian residents to turn down the thermostat in the winter.

According to Kurier, lowering the heating from 22 to 20 degrees can save around 10 percent on gas consumption.

Additionally, removing any panelling or long curtains that cover radiators can result in gas consumption savings up to 40 percent. 

Modernise appliances 

Upgrading existing appliances can significantly reduce costs.

For example, 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.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: Where are rents rising fastest in Austria?

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

Showers are typically 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.

Introduce energy-saving habits

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.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about Austria’s climate bonus payment

Monitor energy usage

Finally, take a good look at your energy bills to find out just how much energy your household is actually consuming. This will help you to figure out where some extra 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 are set to be high for the next few year, fixed-price deals could be more economical. And any positive energy saving changes that can be made now will help to keep bills down in the future too.

What is the government doing about rising costs?

The Austrian Federal Government recently provided around four million households with a €150 voucher to discount their energy bills.

The one-off payment is part of a larger package by the government to assist residents as the country faces soaring energy prices and increasing inflation.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to claim your €150 energy discount in Austria

The bonus is directly connected to the electricity supplier. It can be redeemed by single-person households with an annual income of up to € 55,000 or residences with more people and up to € 110,000 yearly income.

In Vienna, there are also government subsidies to install external blinds or shutters on an apartment. This is especially useful for the hot summer months, but it does require permission from a landlord.

The City of Vienna website has more information about this scheme.

Then there are additional financial measures set to be introduced by the federal government to offset the rising cost of living. 

Every resident in Austria will receive a €500 payment expected for autumn, possibly October. Children should receive half of this amount.

This payment is tied to Austria’s planned “Klimabonus” payments meant to offset the costs of a CO2 tax that has not yet been implemented in the country. It was initially set at €200 per person before being increased.

The family allowance payouts per child will increase to €180 per child in 2022. Additionally, in August, there will be an additional payment, a “13th family allowance pay”.

A one-off payment of €300 is set aside for unemployed people and other “vulnerable groups”. The payments will be made automatically by the Austrian government and responsible departments.

Tax allowances will increase, especially the “Family Bonus Plus” deduction. While it is currently set at €1,500 per child per year, it should rise to €2,000.

Pensioners’ tax allowance is also increasing, at least for low to medium-sized pensions, by €500 already in the summer.

Additionally, Austria will abolish the so-called “cold progression”, the term used to describe increases in tax burdens which are based on increases in income but do not account for inflation. The changes are due to come into effect in 2023.

Useful vocabulary

Steuer – tax

Rechnungen – bills

Erdgas/Naturgas – natural gas

Strom – electricity

Gutschein – voucher

Stromlieferant – Electricity supplier

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Reader question: What should I do if I haven’t received Austrian government’s €500 payment?

People in Austria have faced a rising cost of living but should now be getting a €500 payment from the government. What if yours hasn't arrived yet?

Reader question: What should I do if I haven't received Austrian government's €500 payment?

Austria is facing increasing inflation, brought mainly by the rising energy and fuel costs, and people have also felt it as even essential goods such as food have become more expensive.

The federal government announced several measures to try and cushion or contain the rising prices, from bonus payments to a cap on electricity prices, as The Local reported. One of the most significant measures for the population is the one-off €500 payment known as the “climate and anti-inflation bonus”, or Klimabonus, for short.

Every single person who has legally lived in Austria for at least 183 days in the year is entitled to it – people under 18 years old qualify for a €250 payment.

READ ALSO: When will Austria make the €500 anti-inflation payment and how do I get it?

The government has said that payments would be paid “from the beginning of September”. Still, two weeks into the month, many people still haven’t gotten it.

What should I do if I haven’t received it yet?

The short answer is: wait a while. Payments were meant to start from the beginning of the month, but that doesn’t mean everyone would receive them on September 1st.

In fact, hundreds of thousands will have to wait until the end of the first week of October, public broadcaster ORF reported.

According to the Linz IT company Programmierfabrik, which programmed the database behind the system, the payments are ongoing. Managing director Wilfried Seyruck said: “We have been making 300,000 transfers every day since September 5th.

READ ALSO: How could Austria’s new electricity price brake benefit you?

“Therefore, it will take us 25 days until all 7.4 million claimants have received the transfer. We should be finished by the end of the first week of October.”

So, if you are getting your payment through a wire transfer to your bank account, it might take a bit longer. However, it might take even longer if you don’t have your updated information with Austria’s FinanzOnline authorities.

As the government stated when they announced the bonus, those who don’t have their bank accounts up to date will receive a voucher instead. There are about 1.2 million people in Austria in that situation.

READ ALSO: ‘I feel ripped off’: What it’s really like living in Austria right now

In these cases, it can take until the end of October to arrive by secure mail – and then people will have to trade the voucher for cash.

What if my partner has received it and I haven’t?

The payment is individual regardless of whether you and your partner or other family members share a bank account. This means that you, your partner, and your child might share a bank account and receive the payments on different dates.

Even if someone you know has received it already on the same bank account you are supposed to receive yours, you might still get it in early October.

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