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How people in Denmark are changing their energy use to keep bills down

Energy consumption in Denmark has fallen by almost 10 percent, according to a media report, as the country experiences record high prices.

How people in Denmark are changing their energy use to keep bills down
Price-tracking apps and using appliance at night are among methods used by Danes to soften the blow of high energy costs. File photo: Vibeke Toft/Ritzau Scanpix

Evidence suggests that using appliances at night is among a number of ways Danes are limiting their energy consumption amid record prices.

The Nordic country has seen increasingly high prices on energy, electricity and gas throughout this year due to a combination of factors including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ongoing inflation.

As a result, electricity is now more expensive than ever before. The price on August 23rd was 7.72 kroner per kilowatt hour compared to 2.87 kroner per kilowatt hour on January 3rd.

READ ALSO: Why next week could be crucial for Danish heating this winter

The government has attempted to address the issue by paying out relief to around 400,000 households affected by high heating bills, but individuals are also adapting daily habits to reduce consumption and thereby limit the effects of high prices on their wallets, broadcaster DR reports.

Energinet, the company responsible for Denmark’s electricity network, told DR that private energy consumption in the first seven months of 2022 was 9.86 percent lower than in the same period last year.

This has corresponded with a rise in popularity of apps which can be used to monitor electricity prices. These include the ‘Min strøm’ app, which has been downloaded 70,000 times according to the broadcaster. Popular alternatives are the ‘Elpriser’ and ‘Andel Energi’ apps.

Energy prices as high as 7.7 kroner per kilowatt hour can still fall to as much as 3 kroner per kilowatt hour at night, and this can be checked using tracking apps, which monitor the kWh price by the hour.

Danish residents are also making more of an effort to take advantage of times during the day when electricity costs less. These occur during the night as well as for a short period during the middle of the day (due to solar power).

“Electricity consumption is primarily falling during the day and less, or not at all, during the night,” Energinet senior business developer Jesper Kronborg Jensen told DR.

This could be “interpreted” as people moving their electricity-demanding activities to nighttime, he said, but noted Energinet can only see the change in consumption times, not the reasons for this.

Other measures taken by Danes to reduce energy use include not making meals that require long oven time; using slower but more efficient washing programmes on dishwashers and washing machines, and running them at night; and avoiding the tumble dryer.

Overall, energy consumption in Danish homes in the first seven months of this year totalled 5.16 million megawatt hours, according to Energinet. In 2021, it reached 5.73 million megawatt hours in the corresponding period.

Total energy consumption for the country also fell, from 21.16 million megawatt hours to 20.79 million megawatt hours.

Factors other than cost may be related, Jensen noted in comments to DR.

“There is no correction for the corona lockdown at the start of 2021, which may have meant a higher electricity consumption in private homes, for example because of more home working,” he said.

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How will Nord Stream pipeline leaks affect gas bills in Denmark?

Gas prices increased on Wednesday morning in the wake of gas leaks from the Baltic Sea Nord Stream pipelines and Russian threats to close off remaining gas supplies to Europe.

How will Nord Stream pipeline leaks affect gas bills in Denmark?

The stock market price of gas rose from 15 kroner per cubic metre on Tuesday morning to 18 kroner per cubic metre on Wednesday, according to energy analyst Kristian Rune Poulsen of Green Power Denmark.

“The gas leaks in the Baltic Sea have made the market nervous and prices increase by 5-10 percent in the wake of that,” Poulsen told news wire Ritzau.

“But on top of that, [Russian state gas monopoly] Gazprom has threatened to shut off supplies to Europe through Ukraine and that has made the price of gas go up even more,” he said.

The two Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia and Europe were hit by unexplained leaks, Scandinavian authorities said on Tuesday, raising suspicions of sabotage.

The three gas leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were visible Tuesday in waters off Denmark with huge areas of bubbling spreading from 200 to 1,000 metres in diameter, the Danish military said.

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The leaks occurred off the Danish island of Bornholm in Danish and Swedish economic zones, but in international waters.

“The Nord Stream pipelines were already inoperative for an indefinite amount of time, so the reaction on the market has been limited,” Poulsen said.

Russia is still sending some gas to Europe – around one-fifth of pre-war levels, the analyst said.

If Gazprom follows up on its threat to shut off another pipeline – which travels through Ukraine – the remaining amount would be halved, he said.

“That would hit the sparse supplies we actually have,” he said.

Gas prices are still some way from a peak on August 26th, when the price reached 30 kroner per cubic metre.

“Since August 26th, the trend has in fact been downwards, and the price was roughly halved [compared to the August peak] up to yesterday,” Poulsen said.

Consumers who use gas to heat their homes in Denmark will nevertheless feel the impact of Wednesday’s price hike, however.

“Consumers cannot follow gas prices hour by hour like with electricity prices,” Poulsen said.

“If the price is high, their gas bills will also go up. But they will not see that until three months from now when the next heating bill comes,” he said.

The analyst said he expects gas prices to remain high at around 20 kroner per cubic metre throughout the winter, and even during the following winter.

“The next two winters look like they will be very expensive if you use gas,” he said.

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