NINE EASY STEPS TO SAVE MONEY WHEN HEATING YOUR GERMAN HOME
Winter is coming.
I’ve never watched a single episode of Star Wars, but I’ve been seeing the quote bob around the internet, so I thought I’d join the cool cats and kittens and use it anyway.
Oh well, just let it go, because no matter who said it first, winter IS coming, although it has never really left Germany this year in the first place. Just like those new neighbors who seemed pleasant at first, so you invited them over for dinner, and realized that they’re actually slightly drab, puppy-hating, mouth-breathers who are still parked on your couch with their feet up at 3.30 am on a weeknight, asking for their 4th wine refill, while flaunting pictures of their six cats wearing hand-crocheted Halloween costumes.
Not judging, though, if that’s what tickles your pickle.
So, after teaching you How To Keep Your German House Cool During Summer, it’s now time to show you the nine best tips for heating your home without breaking the bank. Just remember to do the opposite of all this next time Margo and Todd are popping by.
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HOW TO HEAT
Please note that Germany uses various heating systems. There are radiators, heated floors, heated ceilings, heated walls, heated pineapple shrimp, coconut shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp salad… you get the drift.
To simplify, I’ll focus on how to cost-efficiently heat your German home with radiators, as that’s one of the most commonly used systems, and you may be able to transfer many of these techniques to other heaters, too. So please continue reading – even if you don’t have radiators – and pick what works best for your home.
1. EVERY DEGREE COUNTS
Two or three degrees can make a big price difference – so consider each room individually:
In the kitchen, your stove and other electric appliances will add to the overall room temperature and you can set your radiators to a lower number (more on that later).
Since it’s healthier to sleep in cooler temps, an average of 17°C / 63°F is sufficient for bedrooms.
About 22°C / 72°F are ideal for bathrooms and around 20°C / 68°F for all other rooms.
2. A NUMBERS GAME
Fun fact: Cranking your radiators up won’t make them heat more rapidly. The numbers tell you how warm your room will get, not how much force your heating system will be applying.
The lines in between the numbers stand for one degree each. Here’s how to read that dial:
*: ~ five degrees Celsius / 41 degrees Fahrenheit or frost protection
1: ~ 12°C / 54°F
2: ~ 16°C / 61°F
3: ~ 20°C / 68°F
4: ~ 24°C / 75°F
5: ~ 28°C / 82°F
3. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
And I encourage you to mirror that in winter: Prevent the outside air from creeping in and inside temps from slipping out, by closing your Rolläden – almost similar to when you were Keeping Your German Home Cool – the only difference being timing.
Start sealing everything up as soon as it gets dark (not in the morning, like you would in summer), since that’s when it gets nipping. Doing so can save you up to 50 Euro in heating cost per year!
During the day, keep your Rolläden up, employ Mrs. Sun to help you warm up the house, and save even more.
4. MIND THE MOLD
To Avoid Accidentally Growing Any, keep your interior doors closed and heat all rooms separately. Open doors may transport moisture and thus cultivate those vile fungi.
5. LÜFTEN LÜFTEN LÜFTEN
Speaking of mold: You still have to air out your rooms several times a day, however, do NOT keep your windows cracked in the winter! That way, the walls around them will cool off, moisture will settle, and sooner or later you’ll be growing mold – the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
So, again, do what you did last summer, open your windows, and create a draft. Will it get glacial for a moment? Yes. But you only have to leave them open for about ten minutes each time and this will help you justify buying some additional cute blankets.
Rooms you don’t heat much have to be aired out particularly carefully. Get a hygrometer (or several) to keep track of humidity, the ideal being 40-60%. I use this one and I am very happy with it: ThermoPro TP50 digitales Thermo-Hygrometer *.
6. NO DRAFT
Close up drafty windows and doors by getting some rubber seal Gummidichtung (for example this one: tesamoll P-Profil Gummidichtung*) or a Zuglusftstopper (Lyvanas Zugluftstopper*) respectively, to avoid heating the outside.
7. FREE THE RADIATORS
Don’t block ‘em! No beds, no desks, no laundry, not even a curtain!
In a nutshell: don’t put anything in front of your radiators, so that the warm air can easily spread throughout the room without having to overcome any extra obstacles.
8. KEEP IT UP!
Don’t let your temperatures drop too low. Warming cold air takes longer, which makes your heating costs shoot up. Cooler air also doesn’t absorb moisture well, so the water stays on your walls – and guess what? Surprise: mold!
You can absolutely turn down the heat when you’re gone for a longer period, at night, or while you’re at work. Most heating systems have an option for that – just don’t let it plummet below 16°C / 61°F.
9. BLEED YOUR RADIATORS
Do this once they start gurgling, or when you notice spots that no longer get warm. This may happen more frequently on the top floor.
You can buy keys that should work for most radiators (3x Entlüftungsschlüssel*) – but always double-check with your landlord first.
Check out this video to learn how to bleed your radiators:
GOOD TO KNOW
Your landlord is obligated to turn on the heating system from October 1st until April 30th, possibly earlier, if inside temps plummet and stay below 16°C / 61°F for an extended period of time.
So, even if the cold doesn’t bother you anyway, follow my tips to heat your home correctly, so you can avoid growing mold without breaking the bank, then lean back and forget about your worries and your strife. Hakuna Matata!