The first energy suppliers have massively raised gas prices. On the annual consumption, there are now very high payments on account. In many cases, the monthly gas bill increases tenfold. FOCUS online tells you what to do if the bill explodes.

It is a letter that the approximately 30 million gas customers in Germany fear. Gas providers use the new gas surcharge and the lower tax rate to turn the price screw. In many cases, a new monthly gas advance payment is also determined.

Depending on the provider, place of residence and tariff, consumers can expect the costs to increase tenfold in the worst case. For example, prices at GASAG natural gas in Berlin went up by 30 percent. However, because some gas customers recorded higher gas consumption for their apartments in winter 2021, the provider has now increased the down payment tenfold.

Instead of the previous almost 190 euros, she should now pay over 1000 euros a month. As a reason, the provider states in the letter: “We want to avoid you having to make a very high additional payment at the end of the billing period.” The ongoing payments on account would “correspond to the current energy costs”.

From a legal point of view, the gas payment on account must be based on the previous year’s consumption.

If the down payment is too high, you must contact the gas supplier as soon as possible. The provider is legally obliged to justify the higher deductions in detail. If you lodge an objection in writing by registered mail, please state at the same time that this objection to the proposed advance payment does not correspond to a special termination.

Tell the company that you had a significantly higher consumption last winter and that this will not be the case this year. Possible reasons include replacing the heating, saving energy, a child has moved out, you had to look after a relative last winter, and others.

Have you received your new gas discounts these days? We would like to speak to you about this and report on your situation. Please write to us at how high your previous deductions were and how much you should pay in the future and when and how we can best reach you. Thank you, your FOCUS online editorial team!

If you lodge an objection in writing, state how high your advance payment was in the previous year. Make a note of “I did the math and see that my monthly down payment of around XXX euros will increase slightly this year to around XXX euros as a result of the current price adjustment. In addition, I have prepared the heating energy-efficiently for the winter. My consumption will drop significantly. Please reduce the down payment.”

The Federation of German Consumer Organizations explains on its website that an objection may also result in termination. The provider could see this as a special notice and announce a delivery cessation.

Here, too, it is important to react quickly.

Submit an objection as soon as possible by registered mail and ask the provider to continue to supply you with energy under the contractually agreed conditions.

The consumer advice center lists a sample text:

Good to know: If your gas contract is terminated, you will switch to alternative supply. Here you have the cheapest tariff. After three months you slip into basic care. The following applies here: Try to get better terms by telephone.

Consumer centers throughout Germany warn against setting the down payment too high. If the provider goes bankrupt, the money is gone. Therefore, only increase the payments on account so that you do not have to fear any major back payments.

The guideline is: Multiply the annual consumption from the previous year by the current gas price (gross) and divide by 12 months. Add 20 percent to that. You should definitely still be able to pay rent and groceries.

If you don’t have enough money, contact the respective city or district administration, specifically the housing benefit authority, as soon as possible.

There you can apply for housing benefit, a rent subsidy or, for owners, the so-called load subsidy. Application forms are available in paper form or online on the city or county website.

The authority responds to the application with a written decision within eight weeks.

If you had a very high consumption, step on the gas brake immediately. Lower the temperature when heating water, insulate pipes in the basement and turn down the heating control.

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