They've been talked about for a long time, and now they're finally here: The energy price brakes for gas, electricity and district heating will come into effect on March 1st. They relieve private households of energy costs retrospectively as of January 1st and at least until the end of the year. Consumers automatically benefit from the billing or from lower advance payments - they don't have to do anything for it.
Nevertheless, it can now be worthwhile for electricity and gas customers to take action. An astonishing development has been observed on the market for a few weeks. While most providers increased their prices drastically at the end of last year, some are now again advertising significantly lower prices for new customers. The result: By switching, some households can save hundreds of euros a year on electricity and gas, according to the comparison portals Verivox and Check24.
It is a paradoxical situation: just at the moment when the state partially caps the prices for electricity (at 40 cents per kilowatt hour), gas (12 cents) and district heating (9.5 cents), suppliers are flooding the market again which are significantly lower in price. Some customers can save significantly more by switching than by the state relief on their expensive existing customer price. The fact that new customers are once again being lured in with cheaper prices is because the exchange prices for electricity and gas have fallen significantly as a result of well-stocked storage facilities and a relatively mild winter – providers can therefore currently buy energy more cheaply again.
According to Verivox, households that receive basic services can benefit the most. This is traditionally considered expensive, but was temporarily the cheapest choice for many customers last year because the prices of alternative tariffs shot up. Now there are cheaper providers again – and the basic service can in principle be canceled with a notice period of two weeks.
According to Verivox, a family with a power consumption of 4000 kilowatt hours can currently save an average of 345 euros a year if they switch from the basic supply to the cheapest provider. The price brake for the more expensive tariff is already taken into account in the calculation, otherwise the savings would be even higher. Verivox calculates a similar savings potential for gas: A household in a single-family house with an annual consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours can save an average of 363 euros by switching, and the savings also apply here in addition to the price brake.
The comparison portal Check24 breaks down the savings potential for gas in a current analysis in more detail by city. According to this, a family in Zwickau can even save a whopping 979 euros a year when switching from basic services to the cheapest provider. In Cottbus it is 788 euros, in Moers 722 euros and in Düsseldorf 678 euros. "Consumers pay less for gas tariffs from alternative suppliers than they have since the end of 2021," explains Check24.
Comparing tariffs can therefore be worthwhile again. However, electricity and gas customers would do well to do so with a cool head. Because: The fact that the comparison portals are so cheering for the return of cheaper offers for new customers is also due to the fact that they collect a commission with every switch. However, consumers should pay close attention to customer reviews and contract details.
In the price comparisons, low-cost providers sometimes appear at the top again, with whom customers have had a lot of trouble in the past and who are known to drastically increase prices after the price guarantee has expired. Some providers currently only give a one-month price guarantee anyway, so that the cheap electricity and gas can be over very quickly.
The electricity providers Rabot Charge and Tibber are even pushing their way onto the market with new dynamic tariffs, whose end customer prices are supposed to adjust every month according to fluctuations on the electricity exchange. The new providers advertise that their model allows them to immediately pass on the currently favorable exchange electricity prices to customers. And should the price skyrocket, it would be capped by the state price brake. However, the price brake only applies to 80 percent of the previous year's consumption, the rest customers have to pay in full. And it expires as planned at the end of 2023 or in April 2024.
The contracts with monthly fluctuating electricity prices - despite very short notice periods - have their pitfalls for customers who do not keep an eye on them all the time. On the other hand, with long contract terms, you can currently also block the chance of further falling prices. The consumer advice center recently wrote: "It is to be expected that many providers will pass on the falling prices if the lower price level lasts. However, a price guarantee prevents you from receiving a price increase shortly after the change and having to change again." After all, customers always have a special right of termination in the event of price increases.