Am I getting overcharged for water utilities?

21 posts in this topic

I just received my additional nebenkosten bill for 2019; it was our first year in Germany, so it covered 8 months (May-Dec). I owe 942 euros, mostly for water expenses. We were two people with a 3-year-old child, in a new building complex in Berlin, managed by a company called Allod. Apartment is 89 square meters, one bathroom. I think the water was heated by electricity. Does anything seem weird about these charges?

 

WARMWASSERKOSTEN

30% Grundkosten = 2.23 euro/sq meter x 89 sq meter = 134 euro

70% Verbrauchskosten = 18.52 euro/kubikmeter x 51.12 kubikmeters used = 946.62 euro

KALTWASSERKOSTEN

Bewasserung = 1.79 euro/kubikmeter x 142 kubikmeters used = 254 euro

Gesamtbetrag Abwasser = 2.16 euro/kubikmeter x 142 kubikmeters used = 307 euro

 

HEIZKOSTEN

30% Grundkosten = 83 euro

70% Verbrauchskosten = 188 euro

The figure that stood out the most to me was the 18.52 euro/kubikmeter for the hot water; is that high? Also it seems hard to believe that we used 580 liters of water per day. We did give the kid a bath every day and owned a high-efficiency washing machine. We are American and probably were not as mindful as we could have been with water consumption.



 

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8 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

 I think the water was heated by electricity.

Please recheck this. If true then this could be reason. But i doubt it.

8 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

 

WARMWASSERKOSTEN

30% Grundkosten = 2.23 euro/sq meter x 89 sq meter = 134 euro

70% Verbrauchskosten = 18.52 euro/kubikmeter x 51.12 kubikmeters used = 946.62 euro

 

You use 193 m3 of water, which seems to be high. However it depends upon individual uses. 

Cost of 18.52 for hot water seems to be quite high. Normally. For cold water costs around 4-5 eur/m3. Warm water costs normally double. So around 10 euros /m3 should be OK. Check with neighbour if this is true. Also check the complete bill. 

 

 

8 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

? Also it seems hard to believe that we used 580 liters of water per day. We did give the kid a bath every day and owned a high-efficiency washing machine. We are American and probably were not as mindful as we could have been with water consumption.

Don't you have water meter in your apartment? You can check the consumption yourself. Also did the meter was read and noted when you moved in?? 

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If the water is heated by electricity with a flow through heater, it would be on your electricity bill, not on the nebenkosten bill.  Do you have such a heater in the bathroom / kitchen? 

 

Some websites I checked seem to think that an average person uses between 110 and 127 liters of water per day.  Your usage seems quite a bit higher.  Check the water meter every day for a few days to get a feel for it.  Some landlords write down the meter stand on your rental contract or move in report.  Check if it's really changed by 142.  Maybe there was a reporting mistake.  I'd also try not running any water for as long as you can and check if it's changing.  Maybe there's another apartment on it or maybe there's a leak somewhere.  

 

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2 hours ago, SteveHarris said:


The figure that stood out the most to me was the 18.52 euro/kubikmeter for the hot water; is that high? Also it seems hard to believe that we used 580 liters of water per day. We did give the kid a bath every day and owned a high-efficiency washing machine. We are American and probably were not as mindful as we could have been with water consumption.

 

Bathtubs use a tremendous amount of hot water.  I track my consumption on my hot water provider‘s website, and I can always tell historically when my daughter has been with me.  Having said that - unless your kid is rolling in the mud every day, or has some other issue that requires frequent cleaning, a daily bath seems excessive.  Germany‘s climate is mild - bathing a child every day doesn‘t seem to be necessary unless the kid is always in the mud.

 

Most washing machines are connected to cold-water only, and use built-in heaters.  Unless you have a washer with a hot water input AND have it connected to a hot water tap, it is unlikely to be a source of your high consumption.

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We have a house with garden and a pond to which I have to add 1 m³ every week in summer. Our water consumption is approx. 100³/year. We are two persons.

140m³ seems a little high.

Concerning the cost for you war water: to heat 50m³ of water from 15°C to 40°C you need 1500kWh. That energy would be in 150l of heating oil.

If electricity is used than that would cost 500€.

I think, they overcharged you with the costs for warm water.

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Just found, I made a mistake. I think the warm water has to be 60°C in a rented apartment.

So, that would mean 2600kWh ->260l of oil or almost 800€ for electricity.

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16 hours ago, LeonG said:

If the water is heated by electricity with a flow through heater, it would be on your electricity bill, not on the nebenkosten bill.  Do you have such a heater in the bathroom / kitchen?

Usually in apartment blocks it is heated centrally and thus not on individual flats' electricity bills but rather in the Nebenkosten. There may well be exceptions to this, especially in smaller blocks and those without a Verwaltung as some owners after time opt to install their own heating system - usually requires approval from majority of owners. 

The vast majority of washing machines and dishwashers are hooked up to cold water only and heat up the water using privately paid electricity.

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That does seem excessive.

 

Reading your own meter multiple times after different water-using activities as suggested above would give you a good idea of where you stand for next year, or whether it is worth fighting this bill.

 

We used to live in job-provided accommodation where the utilities were subsidised, and I thought I was great with all that stuff, and then our first year in our own house with 'proper' German bills, I had to pay a shocking extra amount like you. 

 

We learned from that experience and became (arguably too) frugal.

 

An actual daily bath for a 3 year old is too much here. If they require daily cleaning all over because they have indeed been mud-bathing or are just smelly, then we would call it a 'cat-lick' and use a flannel/face cloth/sponge and wipe the child all over from a sink/container of water. 

 

There was someone came on years ago (American) to complain about his energy bills and claimed to use average amounts eg. a 10/15 minute shower a day - which led to hilarity/horror because here really, that's going to cost a bomb.

 

Ship shower rules - get wet, tap off, get soapy, tap on, rinse off. I try to get my kids to use the new showers at the sports hall at school after sport, but no, they would rather use my hot water than the Stadt provided stuff. You can only do what you can do ;)

 

Also in the summer, those things people do for their kids with a constantly running hose down a slide or whatever are also going to cost mega bucks eventually, but I assume your apartment doesn't lend itself to that kind of thing anyway :)

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You can check if the pipework is ok by turning off all your taps (bathroom, kitchen etc) and then look carefully at the meter(s). Are they still moving? Wait a while (best a few hours). Then check again.

 

This would allow you to confirm that no other flat / neighbour is using your water. 

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You could also save a lot of money if you mix the 60°C hot water with cold water until the water temperature is 38°C, instead of bathing your 3 year old in 60°C hot water (which would explain the high hot water consumption).

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9 minutes ago, AnswerToLife42 said:

You could also save a lot of money if you mix the 60°C hot water with cold water until the water temperature is 38°C, instead of bathing your 3 year old in 60°C hot water (which would explain the high hot water consumption).

 

God, does anyone prepare a 60 degree bath for a 3 year old?  Except a mad carnivore trying to make child sous vide?

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26 minutes ago, AnswerToLife42 said:

You could also save a lot of money if you mix the 60°C hot water with cold water until the water temperature is 38°C, instead of bathing your 3 year old in 60°C hot water (which would explain the high hot water consumption).

 

13 minutes ago, snowingagain said:

God, does anyone prepare a 60 degree bath for a 3 year old?  Except a mad carnivore trying to make child sous vide?

One would hope not and that the comment was sarcasm.

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Does your apartment have a water meter of it's own or is there only one for all apartments and the total water consumption is appropriated according to an algorithm?

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SteveHarris,

 

Here are the numbers from my apartment in Berlin. I did not include my usage and size of apartment as it’s not used full time.

 

WARMWASSERKOSTEN

30% Grundkosten = 0.9222774 euro/sq meter

70% Verbrauchskosten = 6.699338 euro/kubikmeter

KALTWASSERKOSTEN

TOTAL (including water service, waste water, etc.) 4.494583 euro/kubikmeter

 

Warmwasser is central and heated from natural gas.  Your usage seems high, but if you're using water like you're back in the US, then maybe not?  

 

You should have a breakdown of Kalt and Warm water on your annual bill.  Cold water charges are the sum volume of cold and warm water.  Using your numbers, your cold water meter should show 90.88 cubic meters and the warm water meter should show 51.12 cubic meters with a total of 142 cubic meters (warm + cold) water.  

 

142 cubic meters of water works out to 37,500 gallons.  If you were there for 8 months, that's roughly 240 days using 156 gallons of water a day.

 

You might try to read your water meters each week to keep track of your useage.  I always take a picture of mine with my phone, so I know the date and time.  

 

S.  

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Hi everyone — Thank you so much for your thorough responses.  The short answer is that we used way too much water and need to be more mindful, but also that the cost per kubikmeter of hot water being charged for my building is much higher than normal.  I checked with a neighbor, and he was being charged the same rate.  I have written to the management company and Techem (the utility company) for an answer about the cost per kubikmeter for hot water.  I will update the thread when I get an answer.  Thank you!!! 

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15 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

I have written to the management company and Techem (the utility company)

Techem is not a utility company. They just provide the service of establishing your share of the cost (think providing the meters, reading them and doing the calculations).

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Thanks for clarification @jeba ... Would Techem have the answer as to whether the cost per kubikmeter is fair/accurate?  The invoice I got shows cost and usage for the whole building, which they then use to calculate the cost per kubikmeter. 

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10 minutes ago, SteveHarris said:

Thanks for clarification @jeba ... Would Techem have the answer as to whether the cost per kubikmeter is fair/accurate?  The invoice I got shows cost and usage for the whole building, which they then use to calculate the cost per kubikmeter. 

Only once the property manager provided them with the utility bill.

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