Electricity, oil and gas
After you move into your new home or office, there’s lots to care take of. Electricity and gas are privatized in Germany. You can choose from a wide range of providers. The default provider is Hamburg Energie, but it’s simple and quick to change to a different provider, as most offer to unsubscribe you. Typically, you pay your utility expenses at a monthly rate. Overpayment is reimbursed or you will be notified if the monthly rate is too low. However, most of the correspondence nowadays happens online, so you can monitor your energy consumption easily.
Some older houses and office buildings (e.g. creative spaces) in Germany still have wood stoves, sometimes in addition to modern heating. They are fired by wood or briquettes, which can be bought at one of Germany’s many DIY markets or delivered to your door. If your house is heated by fuel oil, you need to monitor your consumption and, about two to three times a year, order oil from one of the many private providers in Hamburg.
Hamburg Wasser is responsible for your water supply. The tap water in Hamburg is perfectly drinkable. What else would you expect from the continent's first modern sewage system?
Usually, there is a fixed rate per qm and clients pay for their actual consumption and sewage.
Telephone and Internet
There is strong competition between telecom companies. Finding the best deal can be exhausting. It has been reported that for some of the more popular companies it can take up to six weeks to hook you up. In urgent cases, it might be best to choose the company that offers the fastest service. If you have more time, it can be helpful to check for special deals, such as international, weekend or evening rates. It's also worth noting that calling a cell phone is rather expensive, unless on the same network. Oh, and for some strange reason, cell phones in Germany are called 'Handy', pronounced English.
Cable television is often provided along with telephone and internet. Note that only PAL systems are able to receive German television.
Broadcast License Fee
Every household or office in Germany is legally obliged to pay a monthly broadcast license fee, the so-called Rundfunkbeitrag (see PDF) . The fee is set at €17,50 per month, per household or business, and is mandatory ─ regardless of the amount of TVs or radios you own and whether or not you ever use the broadcasting service. After you've registered your residence with the city, you can expect an invoice in your mailbox within a few weeks.
Recycling is advanced in Germany, and can be a complex matter! Ideally, you dispose of the following items separately:
- Organic waste: Food leftovers go in the green bin.
- Bottles and cans: There is a considerable deposit, 'Pfand', of 8,15 or 25 cents on most bottles and cans. Recycling is facilitated by supermarkets where dedicated collection machines return €-vouchers for your containers. Deposit-free glass containers should be recycled separately at public collection stations. Take a walk around your neighbourhood or ask your landlord to locate the ones nearest to your home or office. At serviced offices, cleaning and waste collection is provided by facility management.
- Plastics and items marked with a green point (Grüner Punkt): Should be recycled in the yellow bin or in a yellow bin bag. Bags are available at supermarkets.
- Paper and cardboard: They go in the blue bin or in containers labelled 'Papier/Pappe', which you can typically find next to the glass containers at your collection station.
- Clothing: Leave clothing and shoes of acceptable condition in one of the 'Deutsches Rotes Kreuz Kleiderspende' containers.
- Large items: For the disposal of bulky items such as furniture, you can call Stadtreinigung Hamburg and arrange an appointment for pick-up.