October 1st marks the official start of the heating season. Affected households will have to reckon with high costs this year, however, because wood, electricity, gas and oil are more expensive than ever. FOCUS online says how you can get through the winter well and cheaply from now on.

Heating or stinginess? Millions of households in Germany are asking themselves this question.

Because regardless of whether it is electricity, gas, oil or wood, energy costs continue to skyrocket. For comparison: On average, suppliers charge more than 15 cents per kilowatt hour for gas. In the previous year, the average value was still around six cents.

According to a survey by Tecsom, a manufacturer of tank content measuring systems, the average price for heating oil is currently 1.52 euros per liter. In August 2021, the national average price was still 0.71 euros per liter.

While single households paid 32.16 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity in August 2021, the average is now 37.51 cents, according to the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). The price depends on consumption, tariff, region and provider.

But consumers also have to dig deeper into their pockets for wood. This applies to firewood and wood pellets. According to data from the German Pellet Institute, their average price has almost doubled since January 2021 – from EUR 238.05 at the time to EUR 431.56 per ton in June.

You can drastically reduce your heating costs without freezing. For example, you should take care of the insulation of free-standing heating pipes, the repair of old heating systems and the replacement of the outdated heating pump in good time.

insulation work

“The insulation work itself is not difficult, but the planning and preparation as well as the selection of the right materials are tough,” says Holger Schmidt from the builders’ protection association. Together with the specialist, house owners should first record the current insulation status of the house. Is it still completely uninsulated or does it already have an older insulation layer? This also has an impact on the possible savings effect. The first centimeters of insulation bring the most.

heating pump

Heating pumps that are more than ten years old consume a good 400 kilowatt hours a year, a lot of electricity. The costs add up to around 150 euros per year. For comparison: In the household, only an old refrigerator with 350 kilowatt hours eats a similar amount every year.

New heating pumps reduce energy consumption by up to 80 percent by adapting to the heating output for daily needs. They turn off in the summer and run at a previously set temperature in the winter. This also reduces the costs to just 20 euros per year.

A new heating pump costs around 200 euros. For the installation you have to reckon with a similar sum again. The new purchase paid for itself after just a few years.

If the balance of the hydraulics is disturbed, the boiler no longer heats all the radiators evenly. If you notice that some radiators are warmer than others at the same temperature, you should act. Another indication of a defective hydraulic balance is a clearly audible flow noise on the radiator.

Hydraulic balancing

The broken hydraulic adjustment causes 25 percent additional costs. With the 120 square meter example house, 200 euros easily come together.

Tip: You can also save heating costs by regularly bleeding the radiators.

Electric thermostat

With electric thermostats you can set exactly what temperature you want in which room and at what time. If you leave the house all day, the temperature will drop and only rise again when you get home. You can even control intelligent thermostats with your smartphone when you are out and about.

If you use it consciously and adjust it according to your needs, the thermostat saves 25 percent of the heating costs, i.e. 180 euros a year. The acquisition costs are 30 euros per thermostat.

Most common mistake: radiators are delivered

If furniture and large objects are in front of radiators or curtains are hanging over them, this impedes the heat dissipation into the room air. The heater then warms up the objects, the room in turn remains cool. Unnecessary energy is wasted.

According to experts from the Federal Ministry of Economics, keeping heating systems free can save up to 12 percent of the total energy costs.

The consumer centers advise that a sofa should be at least 30 centimeters away from the heater.

You heat, but it doesn’t get warm – avoid this mistake

If it feels colder than 20 degrees at home, even though the heating is set accordingly, it may also be because the thermostatic valves are covered. Then they cannot measure the room temperature correctly and regulate the heat output incorrectly.

So don’t just keep radiators free, but also thermostatic valves. This is the only way to ensure that your heating system runs optimally.

Don’t leave windows tilted for hours

In the summer months, the windows are continuously tilted or open all day. In the winter months you should air the rooms regularly to avoid mold in the rooms. However, you should only open the windows briefly. Ideally, do not tilt, but ventilate intermittently or completely crossways.

If the windows are left open longer during the heating months, the walls and ceilings around the windows cool down. This extracts additional heat from the rooms.

How do you optimally ventilate laterally and forcefully? Open opposite windows so that a draft blows through the rooms and supplies whole parts of the entire living space with fresh air.

The consulting company “co2online” advises airing windows three to four times a day. FOCUS online advises: set the alarm clock and close the windows quickly. The colder it is outside, the less time windows should be open.

As a guideline, windows remain open for a maximum of 15 minutes in autumn and five minutes in winter.

Do not leave doors open

Keeping doors between heated and unheated rooms closed saves almost ten percent on heating costs. The savings are even greater if the doors to the hallway, basement and attic remain closed. Up to 15 percent savings are possible.

Not heating is a bad idea

Households often do without heating, especially in the bathroom. But that drives up energy costs.

It is a bad idea to heat cold rooms such as the bathroom through open doors when it is warm in the surrounding rooms. As a result, it is not heat that gets into the cool room, but rather humidity. And that can encourage mold on the colder walls.

Digital thermostats

Digital thermostats can help save on heating bills. Because they can adjust the room temperature exactly to the needs of the user and external factors. Consumers can already save energy with an unconnected device.

The advantage compared to analog devices: With digital thermostats, you can select the temperature in degrees precisely and record and control the room temperature much more precisely.

Simple devices are available from 15 euros. From 25 euros you can even get digital thermostats that can be operated via Bluetooth on your smartphone. This makes it even easier to control the comfort temperature. However, their range is limited.

If you want to invest more money, you can even integrate additional components, such as wall thermostats or opening sensors, with significantly more expensive smart home systems.

For efficient heating and cooling

Place reflection plates behind the radiators

In order to prevent heat from escaping through the wall, aluminum reflection panels should be attached behind all radiators on the outside walls, emphasizes the German DIY Academy.

DIY stores and specialist stores offer different materials for this purpose. They cost about 12 euros to 20 euros per square meter.

Bargains can also use classic aluminum foil. This is first fixed to a thin board or piece of cardboard to make it easier to insert behind the radiator. Finally, the cardboard or the board is cut in such a way that this insulation can be hung on the two radiator wall brackets without any problems.

sealing strips for windows

To save on heating costs, you should check the windows. It must be checked whether the fittings close properly. If these are not correct, they should be adjusted. These measures are important:

For older windows that no longer close tightly even after readjustment, do-it-yourselfers use cheap sealing strips that are glued into the windows. They cost less than five euros per meter in hardware stores.

Sealing strips for the front door

If there is a gap under the front door, special sealing strips with small brushes prevent energy-guzzling drafts. These are available in hardware stores and online shops. You pay a good ten euros for the five meters.

You can also attach the sealing strips to windows.

Insulating shells for heating pipes in the basement

Exposed and uninsulated heating pipes in unheated rooms such as in the basement give off heat – which they should actually transport to the living areas.

But there is something you can do about it: Anyone can insulate exposed heating pipes themselves. For example with insulating shells that can be placed around the pipes. The insulation of the heating pipes in unheated rooms is even mandatory according to the Building Energy Act of 2020.

Also read: