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Deregulated utilities in Germany When moving into a new apartment in Germany, most people keep the same electricity provider used by the previous tenant. Be sure to take a look at your electricity meter and write down its status at the time you move in. Otherwise, the electricity company may simply estimate your bill for the first month based on the previous tenant’s habits.

Utilities have been deregulated in Germany, and there are hosts of providers for electricity. If you want to use a different provider than that of the previous tenant, contact a power company by phone. Yello Strom and E.ON Energie are both established companies with nationwide service. Providers will tell you all about their rates and offers - including ecologically-friendly and water-powered electricity. Some even allow you to mix the types of electricity according to how it is generated to suit your wishes. To compare prices, check out the German-language website (run by two Britons in Heidelberg) www.verivox.de.

Much like the rough–and–tumble world of telecommunications, it is also "buyer beware" when it comes to choosing an energy provider. Many energy companies will offer you a cheap rate in the first year of your contract and then quietly increase rates in the second year. Contracts typically run for 12 months, so be careful to make note of the renewal deadlines. Once you have made your choice, you will have to fill out and sign a contract, and the energy company will take it from there. You may notice that Germans are particularly energy efficient and often switch off the heating at night or while they are away. Once you get your first utility bill, you may understand why. Tips for saving include showering instead of bathing, loading your dishwasher full and unplugging electrical items not in use.

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