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    Important innovation for district heating customers


    From April, consumers should be able to compare prices for district heating nationwide. But what's the point of that?

    From April, property owners across the country should be able to compare prices for district heating. The head of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), Kerstin Andreae, told the digital media company Table.Media that around 150 district heating companies would take part. “We cover almost the entire market.” The Association of Municipal Companies and the District Heating Working Group are taking part in the comparison platform.

    What are the benefits of the platform?

    With the new offer, the associations are responding to criticism of district heating prices, where there are large differences that are difficult for customers to understand. “We know that there is a problem with the transparency of prices,” said Andreae. “Comparability is difficult. The industry will now address this.” The prices should therefore be uploaded to the new platform in a standardized form in order to make them easier to compare.

    Unlike other energy products, the prices for district heating have recently continued to rise sharply. While the prices for heating oil, electricity and natural gas fell in January despite the removal of price controls and a higher CO₂ price, district heating was 13.3 percent more expensive compared to the same month last year, as the Federal Statistical Office announced last week.

    How can consumers defend themselves?

    Andreae now hopes that the new offer will also lead to lower costs for consumers. Unlike electricity or gas, district heating customers cannot change providers. “Transparency and comparability are definitely helpful,” she told Table.Media.

    She encouraged consumers to defend themselves against high prices: “Anyone who believes they are paying too much can also object,” said the BDEW boss. The suppliers are bound to “appropriate pricing”. “Customers are comprehensively protected by the existing antitrust law.”

    However, it happens from time to time that consumer advice centers and the Federal Association of Consumer Advice Centers (vzbv) take legal action against district heating suppliers. This particularly applies to non-transparent price adjustments. If consumers have the feeling that they are paying too much, that the price adjustment has been too high or that they are being charged with inexplicable additional costs, they can use the portal offer in the future and carry out appropriate research. This can help you, for example, to object to the price adjustment. Alternatively, this also increases the chance of withdrawing from the supply contract – which usually runs for up to ten years – and looking for an alternative, cheaper and more independent heating method.

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