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‘Semi off-grid’: Readers’ tips for coping with expensive energy bills in Denmark

Danish homes are set to see energy costs go up this winter. We asked our readers for their tips on limiting the damage of costly bills.

'Semi off-grid': Readers' tips for coping with expensive energy bills in Denmark
Adapting cooking habits is one of several areas in which savings can be made to help deal with expensive energy, our readers in Denmark said. Photo by Uwe Conrad on Unsplash

The cost of both gas and electricity is high in Denmark as inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine combine to increase the price of gas, affecting energy costs across the board.

The government has sent money to some homes impacted by high gas prices and parliament is discussing other measures, while public buildings are set to see thermostats turned down and outside illumination switched off.

While government action could provide some relief, there are things that can be done by private individuals to limit power use and therefore keep costs down.

As we’ve previously written about, tracking the cost of power and using appliances like washing machines and dishwashers at night could help to limit bills.

READ ALSO: How much will Danish energy bills go up this winter?

“See which electricity provider you are using. The different providers, their offers and conditions can be examined at elpris.dk,” advised Maksim.

“Switch off the Wi-Fi during the night,” said Lasani.

One reader, Cornelia, provided us with a bullet-point list of energy and money-saving tips that could help to balance budgets if bills go up.

These include the following:

  • Air homes with heating off and windows wide open, then close windows, not leaving them ajar
  • Dry clothes hanging up, no drier
  • Cook with vegetables, cut down on expensive processed food
  • Consider cutting down on meat, which is both expensive and energy intensive
  • Use an eco dishwasher programme which cleans just as well but takes longer
  • Don’t wash too much by hand – the dishwasher saves water
  • Defrost that fridge

She also advocated buying “reconditioned phones and tablets instead of new [ones], you save money and rare earth elements – and do you really need the newest tech gadget anyway?”

“Buy second hand: clothes, furniture, etc,” she also wrote, noting that “excellent quality” can be found in charities stores such as Red Cross, particularly in affluent areas.

Another reader said they had spent a year living a “semi off-grid life”, which they said kept electricity bills to a negligible amount of 50-100 kroner per month.

To do this, the reader said they lived in a campingvogn (caravan) “for a year as a semi off-grid life, no heater. I turned the light on only when I must read, dress up, eat or cook,” they said.

“At night, I slept inside a sub-zero sleeping bag. I didn’t use the fridge, I only bought fresh food that is enough to eat each day via the TooGoodToGo app, or otherwise, I put the fresh food in a plastic box and left the food outdoor because it is very cold,” they explained.

“I used a torch many times because I tried to use as (little) electricity as I can. I only used electricity when I needed to cook, charge my phone and my computer. I took a shower at the gym. Washed clothes with my hands and hung them outdoors,” they said.

“If anybody finds my real-life experiences are useful, they are welcome to use it,” they said.

Doing all of the above and going partially “off grid” might represent a significant and perhaps impracticable change in lifestyle for most people, but other readers who contacted us mentioned elements of it in their own strategies.

“Turn off the electric stove little early. The stove will release enough heat to finish up the cooking and save electricity,” Lalitha wrote.

“If we start using induction cooker (not rice cooker) it will save lot of cooking time and hence it is cost effective too,” wrote Swati.

Heating can be made more efficient by keeping doors closed as well as windows, Rahool noted.

“Use appliances at night. Do not mow lawns. Use public transport. Instead of vacuum cleaners, clean homes with brooms. Reduce water consumption,” he also advised.

“Don’t turn on the thermostat unless it’s freezing cold. Keep the windows closed and wear more clothes. If you have space, do a bit of yoga or exercise which requires engaging your muscles. It’ll really heat you up,” an anonymous reader chimed in.

“Turn off the heat when you leave the house and if possible turn it on slightly before you come home so that you don’t go to extreme heat when you come home,” they said.

“Try to use the kettle and other stuff when everyone needs hot water, so you don’t heat it again and again,” they further recommended.

Cooking outside was the recommendation of another reader, although this step could prove more tricky as the weather becomes autumnal.

“When it was really hot this summer, we started barbecuing enough meat to use throughout the week so we wouldn’t need to turn on the oven, and discovered how much energy we saved. We are now doing that more regularly to save on bills,” they said.

Many thanks to all readers who took the time to send their tips and advice to us.

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COST OF LIVING

At what time of the day is electricity cheapest in Denmark?

The electricity rate for customers in Denmark may vary hour-to-hour due to several factors and can fall way below the average price. So when is it cheapest?

At what time of the day is electricity cheapest in Denmark?

The price of electricity could defy the current era of soaring energy costs and fall to around 0 kroner (before transport and taxes are applied) for a short period around 2pm on Wednesday.

The electricity price per kilowatt hour could fall to zero on October 5th because of windy weather across Europe, which will result in huge electricity production from both on- and offshore wind turbines, broadcaster DR reports.

Combined with solar energy, which doesn’t factor in when electricity prices fall at night but does in the afternoon, this will force the market price of electricity close to zero, according to the report.

Additionally, heavy rain in Norway and Sweden, both of which have large hydropower production, can also help reduce the price of electricity in Denmark.

Before you connect everything to the grid at 2pm, keep in mind that electricity won’t be completely free to consumers. Transport costs and taxes of around 1.40 kroner still apply, DR notes.

The cost of electricity will nevertheless be low throughout Wednesday afternoon.

That sounds unexpected at a time when electricity costs this winter are expected to be far higher than they were in 2021 and the government has announced measures to help households pay bills. Cities are introducing their own saving measures to reduce electricity use.

“We actually expect [low daytime rates on Wednesday] to persist for a while. At the moment it looks like there will be wind until the weekend and we anticipate a lot of rain will fall,” Jack Kristensen, functions manager with Denmark’s largest energy company Andel Energi, told news wire Ritzau.

“It is predictably the hours where there’s not much consumption that it will be cheapest,” he said.

“Preceding days have been much higher in price,” he said.

Kristensen said he predicted hourly prices on Wednesday of 3 øre (0.03 kroner) per kilowatt hour from 1pm-2pm, followed by 0.2 øre (0.002 kroner) per kilowatt hour from 2pm-3pm.

The most expensive times of day – when people are waking up and around dinner time – have recently seen prices at around 1.10-1.20 kroner per kilowatt hour, Kristensen told Ritzau.

Taxes and transport costs should be added to these figures to get the overall price. In August, the total price of electricity per kilowatt hour hit a peak of 9.47 kroner on August 30th, according to data reported by DR.

People searching for electricity savings should also keep in mind that the rate falls at night.

Because drops in the hourly electricity price caused by increased wind production are highly dependent on weather conditions, they are not easy to predict.

However, apps can be used to monitor electricity prices. These include the ‘Min strøm’ app, which has been downloaded by tens of thousands of people in Denmark. Popular alternatives are the ‘Elpriser’ and ‘Andel Energi’ apps.

Lower nighttime prices can be taken advantage of by setting timers on thirsty appliances like dishwashers and tumble dryers and running them at night.

The autumn could bring about a general fall in Danish electricity prices compared to August and September because of windier weather, according to an industry analyst who spoke to DR.

“With robustly windy weather over Denmark, Sweden and Germany, we and our neighbours will be able to produce lots of cheap electricity and we will have hours with very low electricity prices during the course of the autumn,” said Kristian Rune Poulsen, senior consultant with industry interest organisation Green Power Denmark, in comments to the broadcaster.

High levels of sustainable energy production make electricity prices less dependent on gas prices because less gas is needed to produce the electricity Denmark needs.

The war in Ukraine is a major factor causing gas prices to go up, also affecting the electricity price.

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

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