Why some homes in Denmark are more affected by rocketing heating bills

Huge increases in heating bills could hit households in Denmark this year, but not all homes will be affected by additional costs.

A file photo of a district heating power station near Odense. Many households in Denmark are facing drastic increases to their heating bills.
A file photo of a district heating power station near Odense. Many households in Denmark are facing drastic increases to their heating bills. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix

Energy prices – particularly oil, natural gas and electricity – are still causing spiking energy bills after significant hikes occurred in 2021.

Many Danish households may have to calculate additional energy costs into their budgets, broadcaster DR writes on Tuesday, with prices going up by as much as 1,000-1,500 kroner per month for some.

While some homeowners will feel the pinch of increased costs, others may actually see savings, DR reports.

“It naturally depends upon energy consumption in individual households, but you should expect 1,000-1,500 (kroner) per month (extra),” Lars Aagaard, director of Dansk Energi, the interest organisation for energy providers in Denmark, told DR.

However, the majority of some 1.7 million Danish homes which are heated by district heating systems are unlikely to be hit by the same expensive increases to their bills as others.

District heating, fjernvarme in Danish, is when heated water generated at a central location such as a power plant is pumped via insulated pipes to houses or apartments, where it provides heating.

Most Danish homes on the district heating system will not be affected by the high energy prices which are being passed on to other homes, according to Kim Mortensen, director of Dansk Fjernvarme, the interest organisation for the national district heating sector, who was also interviewed by DR.

“There are around 100,000 customers who will experience significant price increases and a further 100,000 who will experience small price increases,” Mortensen said.

Those numbers come from a survey of Denmark’s 370 district heating companies conducted by Dansk Fjernvarme.

The district heating companies which are raising prices are spread across Denmark, rather than being concentrated in one part of the country. Customers should therefore check with their service providers as to whether they can expect higher bills.

Companies are more likely to put their prices up if they use fuels such as gas or electricity for their pumps, Mortensen told DR.

That is because those fuels are currently affected by global price increases.

READ ALSO: Why are electricity prices increasing in Denmark?

Companies are more likely to avoid putting prices up if they have several options for their energy sources. This can include companies which use surplus heat from waste or biomass incineration.

According to DR’s report, district heating customers with North Jutland company Brønderslev Forsyning, and with HOFOR, which has 625,000 customers in Greater Copenhagen, are among those who may avoid higher bills.

On the other side of the coin, Gudenådalens Energiselskab, a company which supplies customers in central Jutland towns Ulstrup and Bjerringbro, has warned of price increases up to 185 percent. Up to 2,900 homes could be affected.

Such massive increases can wipe out a significant portion – or all – of a household’s disposable income.

Homes not on district heating networks are also vulnerable to price increases. That is particularly true for houses which use natural gas.

Around 400,000 villas in Denmark use natural gas heaters located on their own premises.

Because the cost of natural gas has increased so much, both individually and district heated homes that rely on it could see the most drastic extra heating costs.

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Why the energy crisis isn’t over yet in Denmark

Denmark has cut the majority of its consumption of Russian gas but it is too early to disregard all energy saving measures, experts advise.

Why the energy crisis isn’t over yet in Denmark

Gas stocks in Denmark remain high despite the winter having reached the halfway mark, but it would not be prudent to drop good energy saving habits, broadcaster DR writes.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 40 percent of the natural gas used by Europe came from Russia. That has now been reduced to around 8-10 percent, DR reports.

This means that the EU has moved towards its target of becoming independent of Russian gas, a senior consultant in the Danish energy sector told the broadcaster.

“We have put plans into action and with the amount of gas we are saving now, we are almost at the point of being able to go without Russian gas,” Kristian Rune Poulsen of Green Power Denmark, the interest organisation for the energy sector, said.

The reason for this is that imports of liquid gas from North America and the Middle East have been increased, but also because consumers and businesses across Europe have managed to reduce consumption.

“In Denmark, we used 37 percent less gas in 2022 compared with 2021. How much of this is actual savings and how much is from switching to other fuels, we don’t yet know for sure,” Poulsen said.

Europe currently has good gas stocks and prices are expected to be stable for the rest of the winter.

READ ALSO: Low European gas prices ‘will benefit’ energy consumers in Denmark

But it’s too early to call off the energy crisis and turn up thermostats without a care, according to a number of experts who spoke to DR.

“There’s no doubt that it’s a huge success that we’ve succeeded in saving 20-25 percent on gas and significantly increased imports of liquid gas,” Brian Vad Mathiesen, energy researcher at Aalborg University, said to DR.

“But we still get Russian gas through Turkey and Ukraine, and countries like Hungary and Romania are still dependent on Russian gas,” he said.

Moscow could therefore still use gas as leverage to drive a wedge between European countries, he stated.

A senior researcher in international relations also said that measures to conserve gas should continue.

“We’ve been good at cutting back. But if we stop saving now, we’ll run into problems next year,” Trine Villumsen Berling of the Danish Institute for International Studies told DR.

Much of the gas currently stored was originally supplied by Russia, she noted. Power plants still need to use gas to produce energy when weather conditions reduce wind output, she also said.

“We need Danes to still have those good habits. We must remain aware of how we use energy and how much we turn on the heating for quite a while yet,” she said.

“We must remember that in future we won’t get much gas from Russia and that we are only in this healthy situation because we have been good at conserving,” added Poulsen of Green Power Denmark.