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EXPLAINED: How to keep energy bills down in Austria

The first snowfall has already hit the Alps, which can only mean one thing – winter is on its way. Here's how to save money on energy bills in Austria as we head into the heating season.

EXPLAINED: How to keep energy bills down in Austria
Energy bills might be going up in Austria, but there are ways to save money. (Photo by BOOM / Pexels)

It’s no secret that the cost of living is high and set to get even more expensive as we head into a cold Austrian winter.

But it’s not all doom and gloom as there are some simple ways to save money and energy in Austria.

Here’s how.

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

Reduce the heating temperature

Turning down the heating can have a big impact on energy bills. But in a cold country like Austria, it can also affect people’s wellbeing.

This is why many are opting for a compromise and lowering the temperature of central heating by just one or two degrees.

Harald Proidl, Head of the Eco-Energy and Energy Efficiency department at E-Control, told the Wiener Zeitung: “Just one degree less room temperature results in savings of five to six percent, depending on the building standard.”

Proidl says 21 degrees is the best energy-saving temperature for heating in a house or apartment. However, for most people, 23 degrees is the ideal setting for health and wellbeing.

Review electrical appliances

Households are full of electrical appliances that guzzle energy – sometimes unnecessarily. 

Fridges are one of the main culprits, and big savings can be made by slightly increasing the temperature without compromising on food safety.

The recommended temperature for a fridge is between zero and five degrees, with four degrees often tipped as the magic number. 

READ MORE: 29 ways to save money in Austria (but still have fun)

Experts also say defrosting the freezer on a regular basis can help save energy. If the ice inside a freezer is more than 3cm thick, it’s time for a defrost. The ideal temperature for a freezer is -18 degrees.

Additionally, turning off devices like a PlayStation, Xbox or speaker system at the socket can significantly save energy and reduce electricity bills.

If possible, unplug these devices when they are not in use or invest in an electric socket bar that can be switched off.

A refrigerator can really use a lot of energy, especially it it’s not well-maintained. (Photo by nrd on Unsplash)

Use the dishwasher and washing machine less

Like fridges and freezers, dishwashers and washing machines are essential household items but they also use a lot of energy. 

E-Control expert Proidl said: “If you only run the washing machine or dishwasher twice a week instead of four times, that reduces electricity consumption by two kilowatt hours.”

Simply by being more considerate with how these appliances are used can make a difference.

Switch to energy saving shower heads

Many energy experts say that savings can be made by switching to a more energy-efficient shower head (also known as eco shower head).

These devices can save around 20 to 30 percent of water per shower, which translates to big energy savings with hot water. The Austrian Federal Government is also recommending that people lower the water temperature when showering to further conserve energy and save money.

Energy-efficient shower heads can be easily picked up at hardware stores like Obi, Bauhaus and Lagerhaus.

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

Insulate house/apartment

Investing in insulation (also known as thermal building renovations in Austria) is a great way to save energy and still feel warm while at home.

The Austrian Federal Government website says a well insulated home can reduce the need for energy by 40 percent. As a result, there is funding available for individuals and businesses to upgrade their properties through insulation.

The government scheme can cover up to 30 percent of costs for work such as refurbishment or replacement of windows and external doors, and insulation of outer walls or ceilings.

The deadline for applications for the €650 million scheme is December 31st 2022.

Photo by Hayden Scott on Unsplash

Use a fireplace instead of an electric heater (if possible)

Many people in Austria have been asking if using an electric heater instead of gas radiators can save money on energy bills this winter, as reported by The Local.

But in a recent report by ORF, electric heaters were described as having “very poor overall efficiency”. This is because electricity is produced in power plants that produce emissions, and electric heaters don’t retain their heat for long after being switched off.

Instead, a wood burning stove is recommended as a cheaper alternative to electric or gas heating. 

READ NEXT: Milk, cheese and eggs by 19.5 percent: How food prices in Austria are rising

What else is the government saying?

So far, the Austrian Federal Government has avoided making tough demands on the public to save energy, despite fears of possible gas shortages this winter.

Instead, the government recently launched the “Mission 11” campaign to help the country’s residents reduce energy consumption by eleven percent. The aim is to introduce “small changes in our behaviour” amid the global energy crisis.

As part of the initiative, the government announced several tips to keep houses warmer, save energy and improve efficiency.

The main advice includes reducing indoor heating by two degrees, cutting showers to four minutes, switching off electrical appliances at the mains and switching to public transport.

You can read The Local’s full report on Mission 11 here.

Find out more about saving energy in Austria

Book an appointment with an energy consultant at an Energy Advice Centre in Vienna.

Read energy saving resources and guides from the Austrian Federal Government.

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UPDATED: Will Austria have enough gas for this winter?

Austria's gas storage tanks are filling up as gas consumption remains low. Here's what it means for the coming winter season.

UPDATED: Will Austria have enough gas for this winter?

On Tuesday, Austria’s Climate Ministry confirmed the country’s gas storage tanks are now 80 percent full. 

The milestone was reached one month ahead of schedule and the amount is equivalent to the country’s average gas usage during a winter season.

Austria reached the target amount after more Russian gas flowed into the country than is currently being consumed, which means the storage levels will continue to increase.

READ ALSO: Energy costs: Vienna to support 200,000 households with up to €500

In a statement, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said: “We pulled out all the stops to fill our large storage facilities and create this security of supply. 

“Today, we can say we are well prepared. Our storage facilities are 80 percent full and continue to fill up.”

Nehammer also confirmed that Austria’s dependence on Russian gas has been reduced from 80 percent to 50 percent, reports the Kronen Zeitung.

But despite the good news, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) said the situation “remains tense”, adding that Russia is not a “reliable counterpart”.

Earlier this year, the Austrian Federal Government set the 80 percent target to ensure the gas supply for the winter months amid fears the gas supply could be disrupted.

FOR MEMBERS: READER QUESTION: When should I turn on my heating in Austria this year?

Even the storage facility at Haidach (the Salzburg-Upper Austrian site that borders Bavaria in Germany) is filling up after RAG, the largest gas storage operator and energy storage company in Austria, overtook management in August. Previously, Haidach was managed by Russia’s Gazprom unit and the facility had not been refilled since last winter.

This is good news for Austria as Tyrol and Vorarlberg’s gas supply comes from Bavaria, reports Der Standard.

How much gas can Austria store?

Austria can store 90 terrawatt hours (TWh) of gas when the storage tanks are full.

READ ALSO: ‘Mission 11’: Austrian government reveals tips on how to save energy and fuel

However, only around half of the gas stored in Austria is for domestic consumption because gas for Slovenia and Germany is stored in Austria. 

According to ORF, Austria recorded 77 TWh of gas in storage on October 2nd. Last winter, Austria’s gas consumption from October 2021 to March 2022 was around 65 TWh.