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Danes change habits to cut energy use at home by over 12 percent

People living in Denmark reduced their electricity consumption by 12.2 percent in September compared to a year earlier.

Danes change habits to cut energy use at home by over 12 percent
Switching off unused freezers is one of a number of methods by which Danes may have cut their electricity consumption. File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Private energy consumption figures from state company Energinet, reported by newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, show that 12.2 percent less electricity was used last month compared to September 2021.

Additionally, the total energy consumption by private homes was just under 9 percent lower in the first 8 months of this year compared to 2021.

“Danes are saving electricity especially at the times of day when it is most expensive,” Jesper Kronborg Jensen, senior business developer with Energinet, told Kristeligt Dagblad.

Consumption has primarily fallen during daytime hours and less so during the night.

Energinet only measures production and consumption and cannot therefore give precise reasons for the change in consumption habits.

But the drop-off is likely because Danes have begun using high-power appliances like dishwashers and washing machines at night, when the cost of electricity is lower, Jensen said. Charging of electric vehicles follow the same pattern, he said.

“Consumption in the private sector has fallen, but mostly in the daytime. It has not fallen significantly at night. And that is probably because Danes are washing clothes and charging their electric cars at the times of day when electricity is cheapest,” he said.

“In my time at Energinet we have not seen the curve of consumption swing as much as it is doing now. It’s an interesting trend,” he said.

Many people in Denmark have sought to reduce their electricity consumption to offset increasing prices of energy and heating, which are expected to persist this winter.

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An expert from Aalborg University pointed to other areas in which savings may have been made in comments to Kristeligt Dagblad.

“I also think that some people have looked around and looked at whether they have redundant appliances that are eating up power. For example, an extra chest freezer,” Kirsten Gram-Hanssen, professor at the university’s Department of the Built Environment, said.

But she noted that energy saving is less straightforward for some households than others.

Families with small children might find it “impossible to wash clothes at night and hang it up in the morning, because they have to be out of the door,” she noted.

“There are some people who have a better understanding of the electricity market than others. It makes a difference if you can navigate it,” she said.

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COST OF LIVING

Danish prices could leave ‘thousands’ of homeowners unable to pay bills

An analysis by an organisation representing Danish banks has concluded that the effects of inflation and high energy prices could leave thousands of people in Denmark struggling to pay bills in 2023.

Danish prices could leave 'thousands' of homeowners unable to pay bills

Increasing interest rates are a third factor that could makes bills harder to pay for many households next year, according to the analysis by banks’ interest organisation Finans Danmark, reported by broadcaster TV2.

Higher monthly overheads are set to continue in the foreseeable future, according to the analysis, in which Finans Danmark calculated expected disposable incomes for people living in Denmark in 2023.

According to the organisation, two in three families who own their own homes face extra costs of between 1,500 and 5,000 kroner per month.

Families with expensive heating systems – such as those in homes heated by individual gas heaters – could face paying between 2,500 and 6,000 kroner more each month.

READ ALSO: Danish Energy Agency advises homes with gas heating to conserve

Families most vulnerable to high energy bills and interest rates on their loans could pay as much as 4,500 to 9,500 kroner more per month. Around 120,000 families fit with this description, according to Finans Danmark.

“We are concerned. I don’t ever recall previously seeing a change to an outside circumstance, such as gas prices, which has eaten up so much money from Danish households,” the organisation’s CEO Ulrik Nødgaard told TV2.

Analysts have recently predicted that economic conditions will result in a higher number of people being out of work in Denmark next year.

“It’s obvious that when people are spending money on interest and gas that there is less money for other things, and demand in society will therefore fall, and subsequently something will happen to employment,” Nødgaard said.

Many families in Denmark will be able to cope with increased costs, however, he also said. That is because households will be able to fall back on savings in some cases.

The Finans Danmark CEO also told TV2 that there is a “need to consider targeted solutions in relation to helping the weakest,” in reference to the impact of high costs on people with the lowest incomes.

Banks are ready to help customers who are struggling, he said.

“We would basically like to help people through this. Banks have already reached out to their customers and said: ‘If you think things are looking difficult, pick up the phone and contact us, and we’ll find solutions,” he said.

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