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MONEY

How much does working from home in Germany hike up your electricity bill?

Lots of people in Germany have been working from home during the pandemic. As well as having a shorter commute from your bed to desk (or couch), it also has an impact on your wallet.

People have to pay more for electricity when working from home.
People have to pay more for electricity when working from home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

A new study sheds some light over how much working from home pushes up the cost of electricity bills. 

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, lots of workers have been doing ‘home office’ instead of going into their office, to help control the spread of infections. 

Spending more time at home means you consume more electricity. But how much more expensive is it? Experts from a comparison portal have done the maths.

While working from home, an employee’s electricity bill can increase by around up to €94 a year, says comparison portal Check24.

READ ALSO: How households in Germany can tackle rising energy costs

According to their calculation, the use of a laptop, monitor, desk lamp, kettle or coffee machine and the use of an electric cooker or microwave oven result in additional costs of around 25 to 43 cents per day.

For the calculation, researchers assumed that:

  • An employee, minus holidays and public holidays, works 220 days a year from home and pays an average price of 33.9 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity
  • During this time, they operate a laptop for eight hours a day (0.12 kWh), a monitor (0.24 kWh) and an LED desk lamp (0.056 kWh)
  • They also use a kettle (0.33 kWh) or a coffee machine (0.25 kWh) for 10 minutes and an electric cooker for half an hour at lunchtime (0.5 kWh)
    or a microwave for five minutes (0.066 kWh)

When it comes to phone charging, experts say it doesn’t make much of a difference to household bills. “Charging a smartphone barely plays a role in the additional costs in the home office, because only 0.3 cents is due per charging process,” the authors of the study explained.

Calculated over the 120 days that serve as the basis for the home office allowance (more on that below), an employee pays €30 to €51 more for electricity.

German households pay some of the highest costs for electricity in the world. 

Electricity prices for consumers reached an all-time high in December.

Since the year 2000, household electricity bills have on average doubled in price.

A three-person household in Germany now pays an average of €93 a month on their electricity bill, up from €41 twenty years ago.

READ ALSO: German electricity prices ‘among highest in the world’

“If you use more electricity in your home office than you previously thought, you can increase your monthly rate with your provider to prevent larger additional payments at the end of the contract,” said Steffen Suttner, Managing Director Energy at Check24.

“It’s also worthwhile for consumers to compare whether other providers offer cheaper prices for higher consumption.”

Additional costs for heating, water or Internet push bills up even further. 

Should Germany have a permanent home office flat rate?

During the pandemic, workers can reduce their annual tax bill with the home office allowance (Home-Office-Pauschale). It allows people to claim €5 per working day (up to €600) in the home office for a maximum of 120 days per year. The lump sum is in place for the years 2020 and 2021. 

The German government introduced it to help compensate employees for the higher electricity, heating and internet bills they face due to home office.

Bavarian finance minister Albert Füracker called on the new federal government to permanently continue the allowance, which expires at the end of this year. 

People want to know “what they can or have to prepare for next year”, said the CSU politician.

Füracker said Bavaria is committed to a lump sum of €1,000 per year because the working world had changed as a result of the pandemic.

As The Local has reported, Germany’s Labour Minister Hubertus Heil wants to permit more remote working in future.

READ ALSO: German Labour Minister wants to allow remote working after pandemic

Vocabulary

To consume – verbrauchen

Additional costs – (die) Mehrkosten

Average price – (der) Durchschnittspreis 

How much more expensive is it per year? – Wie viel teurer wird es pro Jahr?

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. Would be interesting to see if there was any increase at all in total outgoings resulting from home office working when you consider the savings made on commuting costs, especially with the high costs for petrol and diesel…..working at home for me means that I am no longer driving 500 Kms/ week to and from work…

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MONEY

Why are card payments getting rejected in Germany?

People are currently unable to pay by card in a number of major German retailers. Here's what's going on.

Why are card payments getting rejected in Germany?

Since Tuesday, numerous retailers in Germany have been operating under a cash-only policy after a major brand of card payments terminal stopped processing payments.

The problem was initially announced by the Konsum retail chain in Dresden, who wrote on Facebook on Tuesday morning: “Attention, an important notice for you! Due to a Germany-wide malfunction, card payments are currently not possible in our stores.”

According to the latest information from Focus Online, several branches of Netto, Edeka and a handful of Rewe branches are affected by the issues. There have also been reports of problems at Aldi Nord, Rossmann and DM as well as some smaller, independent retailers and petrol stations.

People who have tried to pay by credit card, debit card or EC card at these places have reportedly been turned away. 

What’s going on?

The problems with card payments seem to be linked to a commonly used card payments terminal from US company Verifone. According to reports, H5000 card machines at multiple retailers and businesses experienced a software malfunction that stopped them processing payments. 

“As things stand, it will be necessary to install new software updates on all H5000 terminals, which the manufacturer will provide as soon as possible,” the payment service provider Payone said.

“The disruptions are ongoing,” a spokesperson for financial services provider Concardis said on Thursday afternoon. “We’re still waiting for updates from Verifone.”

As of Friday morning, there was no indication of when the problems would be solved, but the card payments processor appeared to be working on a solution.

“We will soon provide a software update for our customers to fix the problem and will inform our customers as soon as it is available,” a Verifone spokesperson said. 

READ ALSO: How Germany’s EC card is set to go digital

How widespread is the problem? 

According to Verifone, thousands of card machines at different retailers, petrol stations and banks across the country are affected. The H5000 terminal is mainly used in Germany, they added. 

However, the Association of German Banks clarified that, though the H5000 terminals were completely out of action, this specific model only accounts for a small proportion of all card machines in Germany. 

“Network operators and technical service providers are working intensively on troubleshooting,” it continued.

Payments processing service Payone confirmed that it was facing issues with the specific H5000 card machine and said that the issues were happening throughout the country. 

“Like other network operators, we are currently experiencing considerable restrictions in the processing of transactions with card payment terminals of the type H5000 from the manufacturer Verifone throughout Germany,” Payone said on Wednesday. 

Financial service provider Concardis warned businesses not to try and fix the problem themselves by rebooting the devices since the card machines needed to be connected to the network in order for the problem to be solved by the manufacturer. 

He said Payone and Concardis were in contact with Verifone and were working to fix the problem.

What should customers do? 

Since card payments may not be possible, it’s a good idea for people to make sure they have cash on them when they go to the supermarket or petrol station in the near future. 

ATMs are apparently unaffected by the problems, so people should still be able to get access to cash. 

Customers are also being advised to clarify in advance at the checkout whether card payments are possible or not – preferably before picking out items.

If card payments aren’t possible, supermarkets and other shops are likely to put up signs at entrances or near the tills, so customers should keep an eye out for those. Petrol stations generally put stickers and signs directly on the pumps when equipment is out of order. 

If customers get caught out with no cash at a retailer where no card payments can be processed, they will generally have to leave the items behind – though some cashiers will be willing to hold the items for when the customers return. 

Things can get trickier at petrol stations, where identity cards, driving licences and health insurance cards can be retained in the event that somebody fills up their tank and is unable to pay straight away.

In some cases, the police can even be called.

READ ALSO: What to know about starting your personal banking in Germany

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