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READERS INSIGHTS

‘Semi off-grid’: Readers’ tips for coping with expensive energy bills in Denmark

Danish homes are set to see energy costs go up this winter. We asked our readers for their tips on limiting the damage of costly bills.

'Semi off-grid': Readers' tips for coping with expensive energy bills in Denmark
Adapting cooking habits is one of several areas in which savings can be made to help deal with expensive energy, our readers in Denmark said. Photo by Uwe Conrad on Unsplash

The cost of both gas and electricity is high in Denmark as inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine combine to increase the price of gas, affecting energy costs across the board.

The government has sent money to some homes impacted by high gas prices and parliament is discussing other measures, while public buildings are set to see thermostats turned down and outside illumination switched off.

While government action could provide some relief, there are things that can be done by private individuals to limit power use and therefore keep costs down.

As we’ve previously written about, tracking the cost of power and using appliances like washing machines and dishwashers at night could help to limit bills.

READ ALSO: How much will Danish energy bills go up this winter?

“See which electricity provider you are using. The different providers, their offers and conditions can be examined at elpris.dk,” advised Maksim.

“Switch off the Wi-Fi during the night,” said Lasani.

One reader, Cornelia, provided us with a bullet-point list of energy and money-saving tips that could help to balance budgets if bills go up.

These include the following:

  • Air homes with heating off and windows wide open, then close windows, not leaving them ajar
  • Dry clothes hanging up, no drier
  • Cook with vegetables, cut down on expensive processed food
  • Consider cutting down on meat, which is both expensive and energy intensive
  • Use an eco dishwasher programme which cleans just as well but takes longer
  • Don’t wash too much by hand – the dishwasher saves water
  • Defrost that fridge

She also advocated buying “reconditioned phones and tablets instead of new [ones], you save money and rare earth elements – and do you really need the newest tech gadget anyway?”

“Buy second hand: clothes, furniture, etc,” she also wrote, noting that “excellent quality” can be found in charities stores such as Red Cross, particularly in affluent areas.

Another reader said they had spent a year living a “semi off-grid life”, which they said kept electricity bills to a negligible amount of 50-100 kroner per month.

To do this, the reader said they lived in a campingvogn (caravan) “for a year as a semi off-grid life, no heater. I turned the light on only when I must read, dress up, eat or cook,” they said.

“At night, I slept inside a sub-zero sleeping bag. I didn’t use the fridge, I only bought fresh food that is enough to eat each day via the TooGoodToGo app, or otherwise, I put the fresh food in a plastic box and left the food outdoor because it is very cold,” they explained.

“I used a torch many times because I tried to use as (little) electricity as I can. I only used electricity when I needed to cook, charge my phone and my computer. I took a shower at the gym. Washed clothes with my hands and hung them outdoors,” they said.

“If anybody finds my real-life experiences are useful, they are welcome to use it,” they said.

Doing all of the above and going partially “off grid” might represent a significant and perhaps impracticable change in lifestyle for most people, but other readers who contacted us mentioned elements of it in their own strategies.

“Turn off the electric stove little early. The stove will release enough heat to finish up the cooking and save electricity,” Lalitha wrote.

“If we start using induction cooker (not rice cooker) it will save lot of cooking time and hence it is cost effective too,” wrote Swati.

Heating can be made more efficient by keeping doors closed as well as windows, Rahool noted.

“Use appliances at night. Do not mow lawns. Use public transport. Instead of vacuum cleaners, clean homes with brooms. Reduce water consumption,” he also advised.

“Don’t turn on the thermostat unless it’s freezing cold. Keep the windows closed and wear more clothes. If you have space, do a bit of yoga or exercise which requires engaging your muscles. It’ll really heat you up,” an anonymous reader chimed in.

“Turn off the heat when you leave the house and if possible turn it on slightly before you come home so that you don’t go to extreme heat when you come home,” they said.

“Try to use the kettle and other stuff when everyone needs hot water, so you don’t heat it again and again,” they further recommended.

Cooking outside was the recommendation of another reader, although this step could prove more tricky as the weather becomes autumnal.

“When it was really hot this summer, we started barbecuing enough meat to use throughout the week so we wouldn’t need to turn on the oven, and discovered how much energy we saved. We are now doing that more regularly to save on bills,” they said.

Many thanks to all readers who took the time to send their tips and advice to us.

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ENERGY

French natural gas reserves full ahead of winter

France's natural gas reserves have reached full capacity, a regulator said Wednesday, warning that consumers should still reduce energy use as Europe prepares for a winter mostly shorn of Russian supplies.

French natural gas reserves full ahead of winter

France becomes the third EU nation after Belgium and Portugal to maximise its reserves, well ahead of a government deadline set for November.

Across the EU, gas reserves stand at an average level of 89 percent.

Countries have spent the months since Russia’s February 24 attack on Ukraine scrambling for alternative sources of fuel, including imports of liquid natural gas (LNG).

“The campaign to refill gas storage for winter 2022-23 is complete, with storage more than 99 percent full,” the Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) said in a statement.

READ ALSO French electricity firms offer bonuses for cutting back this winter

With 130 terawatt-hours (TWh) of gas in stock, higher than the average seen in recent years, France’s supply amounts to around two-thirds of winter consumption by small- to medium-sized businesses and households, the CRE said.

But the body also urged a “massive collective effort to reduce our energy consumption” as supplies could still run tight depending on the winter weather, saying companies, government, local authorities and members of the public must all contribute.

“To prepare for possible tense situations in the coming months, reasonable use of the reserves as well as an effort to limit consumption… seem necessary beginning immediately,” gas storage firms Storengy and Terega agreed in a joint statement.

Most of France’s gas reserves are stored in natural underground spaces such as aquifers dotted around the country.

Russia cut off deliveries of natural gas to France — which has strongly backed sanctions and military aid to Ukraine over Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour – from September 1.

Paris is expected on Thursday to present its “energy sobriety plan” aimed at slashing consumption by 10 percent in two years.

READ ALSO French minister advises: ‘Wear a turtleneck sweater this winter’

Looking to the coming months, Storengy and Terega said that the country’s gas supply could remain “balanced overall” in an “average winter” – although there was “little room for manoeuvre”.

But a severe or lasting cold snap could leave supply short of demand by around five percent, forcing measures to cut usage.

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