NJust under three months until the beginning of the heating period, almost five months until the meteorological start of winter, outside temperatures around 25 degrees: It is this time of year when you rarely freeze – and even less often think of winter. But this year everything is different. The war, the high gas prices, and the dwindling supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline triggered activity in Germany. The shivering begins, already in summer.
For example, there is the housing cooperative from Dippoldiswalde in Saxony. She owns 600 apartments, around 300 of which only have hot water at certain times. In the morning it flows between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., late risers have to wait for the next time slot from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. “As already announced at the general meeting, we now have to save for the winter,” says the corresponding notice, which is making waves far beyond the Eastern Ore Mountains.
Shower tips from Berlin
Although such a restriction of hot water times is actually not permitted under tenancy law, the cooperative means well. The tenants shouldn’t be alarmed by the ancillary cost bills, that’s how board member Falk Kühn-Meisegeier justified the unusual step. One would like to know how much is saved if everyone continues to shower just as much and just as warmly, just at the specified times, but Kühn-Meisegeier can no longer be reached on the phone. Perhaps he secretly hopes that the many shower tips from Berlin will also be imitated in Dippoldiswalde. As is well known, Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) needs less than five minutes to take a shower, while FDP politician Wolfgang Kubicki takes a “predominantly cold” shower.
Hamburg is not yet rationing, but at least considering it. In an emergency, hot water could only be available there at certain times of the day, the Green Environment Senator Jens Kerstan has announced. It’s only good that the self-confessed wimp Olaf Scholz (SPD) is now Chancellor and no longer Hamburg’s first mayor. From Potsdam, where Scholz lives, no rationing is known.
Inventiveness and hoarding are returning
The hardware stores are now experiencing “a real rush” – not so much for the much praised energy-saving shower heads, but above all for everything that burns and makes people looking for heat independent. A company spokesman reports that since Habeck launched the second stage of the gas emergency plan, there has been no stopping them. Firewood, wood pellets, but also gas bottles and cartridges: the shelves have hardly been filled before they are empty again. Hornbach doesn’t really want to talk about details so as not to fuel demand even further. You know that from the Corona period: The Germans are real masters at hamsters. However, the spokesman did release some figures: Between January and June, sales of wood pellets doubled compared to the same period last year. The demand for coal has increased by 35 percent. This is still the “smallest growth”.
Mobile electric heaters such as heaters are also increasingly being purchased. Theoretically, this is entirely in line with Habeck, according to which electricity should be used for heating everywhere in the future. Unfortunately, these mobile devices are far less efficient than Habeck’s heat pumps, which is why experts strongly advise against using them permanently. The answer to the question discussed on social media as to whether the oven could be a suitable substitute for a voluntarily or involuntarily throttled gas heating system is also unequivocal: No, it is not. Meanwhile, the consumer goods group Henkel is also showing itself to be inventive: it is considering sending more of its employees back to their home offices temporarily in order to reduce gas consumption.
The Haus und Grund owners’ association hopes that tenants will not overdo it when it comes to saving energy in winter. “At temperatures below 16 degrees, the risk of mold growth increases significantly,” explains Gerold Happ, member of the management board. In addition, water-carrying pipes could freeze. Heating with wood is only possible where appropriate stoves or fireplaces are available. According to the Federal Environment Agency, however, this is quite often the case. There were around 11 million “single room firing systems” in Germany recently. Many of their users are currently in the hardware store.