Cost of living For Members

Reader question: Should I buy an electric heater in Austria this winter?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
Reader question: Should I buy an electric heater in Austria this winter?
As the cost of gas continues to rise in Austria, some people are wondering if an electric heater could be cheaper to run this winter. Photo by Kübra Arslaner / Pexels.

With gas prices on the rise in Austria, is it worth investing in a small electric heater rather than cranking up your home heating system?


As gas prices skyrocket in Austria, mostly fuelled by decreasing dependence on Russian gas and worries that the country could turn off the taps completely, many are worried that they won’t be able to foot their heating bill this winter.

A year ago, the cost of a megawatt hour of gas in Austria was around €41. By February, it had risen to around €77 per megawatt hour, by May it was €101 and as of August 1st it had hit €202, according to data from the Central European Gas Hub.

With no sign of prices slowing down any time soon, there are now fears that bills could be as much as eight times higher than before when the colder months come.


READ MORE: Inflation at 9.2% in July: How to beat rising prices in Austria

Local readers have been asking us if getting a small electric heater would be a bit cheaper than using gas heating. 

Electricity or gas heating: The big question

The question of how to cut energy costs is one that many people across Austria will be asking themselves as the autumn and winter months approach.

However, energy consultant Herbert Bednar from Energy Workshop in Klagenfurt, is advising against switching from gas to electricity-fuelled sources of heating, if possible.

In a report by ORF, electric heaters were described as having "very poor overall efficiency". This is because electricity is produced in power plants which produce emissions and electric heaters don't retain their heat for long after being switched off.

Bednar said: "With electric heating, it is basically the case that one kilowatt hour of electricity produces one kilowatt hour of heat."

FOR MEMBERS: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Instead, Bednar recommends a wood burning stove as a cheaper alternative to electric or gas heating.

He said: "A tiled stove is ideal because it doesn't go cold again after a few hours, but gives off the heat throughout the day."

But for people that live in an apartment and don't have a wood burning stove, that option is not available.


Another consideration for those trying to save money on energy bills is an infrared panel heater.

These devices fared slightly better in Bernard's analysis, as infrared generates heat on the body and can more effectively keep people warm. Bernard also estimated that heating from an infrared panel can be 10 to 15 percent cheaper than a radiator.

Yet infrared panels are still powered by electricity which has to be paid for and is also going up in price.

Figures from the Austrian Energy Agency show that the Austrian electricity price index (which monitors wholesale electricity prices) went up by 13 percent for August when compared with July of this year. However, when compared with August 2021, the index is up by 247 percent.

READ MORE: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

The current price for electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh) in Austria is between 18 and 72 cents, according to e-Control. Prices fluctuate based on the location, energy provider and consumption.

Electric heaters are known as 'energy guzzlers'. (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)

In July, electricity prices per kWh in Vienna were 38 cents with the cheapest provider, 73 cents with the most expensive and just 24 cents with a provincial supplier.

Other methods to save energy (and money)

In recent months, the Austrian federal government has appealed to the Austrian population to save energy where possible. 

Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler has specifically asked households to lower their heating in the coming autumn and winter season by one or two degrees. This is mostly to save gas consumption amid fears that Russia could switch off the supply to Austria, but it can also work to save money on energy bills.

READ ALSO: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

Additionally, the government recently agreed to impose an electricity price cap from this autumn to relieve some financial pressure on households, as reported by The Local.

The aim is to “support the Austrian population to ensure affordable energy supply for a certain basic need”, according to a statement released after the announcement in July 27th. The government didn’t provide further details but said that the conditions for the price cap would be developed by the end of August.

Other methods to save money this winter are wearing layers and warmer clothes while inside, ensuring windows and doors are insulated and not letting out precious heat, taking shorter showers at a lower temperature and switching off electrical appliances at the plug when they are not in use.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also