Gas transfer station in Hamburg
Daniel Reinhardt / dpa
You know that, from toilet paper to toothbrushes to the right batten in the hardware store.
Not welcome as a customer?
You are also familiar with this when you, as a saver, want to deposit 50,000 euros in the call money account and the providers only react with defensive conditions, for example with penalty interest.
And now you will have the same experience with gas.
Hundreds of gas suppliers have raised their prices in the past few months.
Often juicy, sometimes moderate, sometimes with a lot of subtlety.
Eon, a gas giant since the takeover of Ruhrgas, stopped accepting customers for a week in October and then only offered significantly higher prices.
Quite a few municipal utilities have completely stopped selling across the border of the region.
At the moment there is a real rush of new customers to gas providers, as reported by eco-providers such as the Green Planet Energy cooperative.
Nevertheless, the biogas market still only accounts for three percent of the total market in Germany, according to the industry association Zukunft Gas.
EWS Schönau in the Black Forest offers 100 percent biogas from the waste of a neighboring paper mill.
It's as ecological as you can imagine - but for over 15 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
A short time ago the biogas cost 12 cents.
The price of just under 12 cents (11.64 cents / kWh) for biogas is still available from the competitor Naturstrom, but only with a ten percent share of biogas;
the rest is fossil natural gas.
The Schönau eco pioneers also had this on offer - at a time when classic natural gas, i.e. not at all eco, cost consumers 5 to 6 cents per kWh.
The old rules no longer apply
If, as a gas customer, you receive an increase these days, you have a special right of termination. In the past few years I have usually advised in such cases: After the increase, make a price comparison at »Finanztip«. Then you will find a cheap provider in our database.
The tariffs recommended by my »Finanztip« colleagues had a maximum term of one year, after which you could have canceled quickly. You could have got a price guarantee for the year and could even have looked for an organic gas tariff that wasn't as expensive as it is today. Perhaps even knowing that biogas is often not that ecological because it comes from farmers who cultivate maize. Because only a few eco-gas providers actually bother like Schönauer or Green Planet eG from Hamburg, which actually only generate their gas from waste and are not in competition with food production.
The production costs for biogas have actually not increased.
Nor does it have to be bought from Gazprom or anywhere else on the world market.
With the prices of last year, biogas could currently even compete well with the world market prices for classic natural gas.
But biogas is also offered at a higher price today.
The price increase is significantly less than for fossil natural gas, but it is noticeable.
Because the producers of biogas have also noticed that there is a run on their product.
And that they not only sell fuel, but also the green certificate.
Such certificates are very popular with industrial customers.
Because that way, higher overall revenues can be achieved.
"In any case, 90 percent of biogas is burned in gas-fired power plants or combined heat and power plants to generate electricity and is not available for the gas market," says Johann Schmidt, head of the energy industry and thus chief buyer at Green Planet Energy.
The price development for you and me as the end customer depends above all on the purchasing policy of the gas supplier. The classic municipal utility buys the gas for its regular customers with long-term contracts. It also secures the gas it needs at lower prices on the spot market, which is a today-and-now market. In the meantime, however, the price ratios have changed. Long-term gas orders are cheap, the spot market is incredibly expensive. New customers, for whom the gas would then have to be bought on the spot market, shred the previous calculation. This problem applies even more to a number of low-cost providers who have saved themselves the long-term contracts with their capital commitment and now have to buy large parts of their gas on the spot market at the highest prices.
Some municipal utilities in the Ruhr area are now dividing their customers into two groups.
On the one hand, there are the old customers in the basic supply, on the other hand, new customers in the replacement supply who have been thrown out by their previous provider or who are fleeing from its sharply increased prices.
The municipal utilities concerned now demand significantly more money from these flight customers than from regular customers.
The state cartel office in North Rhine-Westphalia has already approved the actions of the municipal utilities in Essen, Dortmund, Krefeld, Bochum and Oberhausen.
In fact, customers who are new to the basic supplier often have to pay double what these municipal utilities charge from existing customers.
The labor prices that Stadtwerke Essen, Krefeld or Oberhausen call for new customers for basic and replacement supplies for completely conventional gas are in some cases even higher than the price of biogas at EWS Schönau's Ökos.
With a hefty increase, what can you do now as a customer?
You don't necessarily know straight away whether the provider is increasing prices moderately or excessively.
Prices increased by 20 percent can still be lower than any other tariff offer.
So you need to go a step further.
They mark the increased price of your old provider.
Then compare the price with the prices of competing providers who are still looking for customers - like at »Finanztip«.
AND you see what your local basic provider takes in the basic tariff and which special tariffs they offer.
We have created an overview for 40 large cities.
Because if you get the old basic tariff, it is currently often cheap.
You are not immune to price increases in a few months, but you can cancel at any time with two weeks' notice.
Many municipal utilities also offer special contracts that are cheaper than the prices in the basic supply - often with an initial term of two years.
Your new weighing then runs roughly as follows:
Your provider has increased the price for your consumption (for example 17,500 kWh) to 2000 euros and offers a price guarantee until the end of 2022.
The basic supplier wants - as of today - 1000 euros for the same gas consumption, but can increase it at any time.
And a particularly cheap provider from the database only wants 1850 euros for the gas, but requires you to sign a two-year contract with a price guarantee until the end of 2023.
EWS or Bürgerwerke currently charge 2500 to 2900 euros for this amount of biogas - and guarantee the prices for a full year.
The gas market is now asking you to place a bet, i.e. a decision without complete information.
Even so, the scenario in itself is still simple: in three cases you know what the gas will cost you in the coming year;
in one case you don't know.
And in one case you already know what the gas will cost you in 2023, whereby the increasing costs for the CO2 price are usually not taken into account (0.11 cents per kilowatt hour more in 2023 compared to 2022).
For once, I would opt for the 24-month contract. Provided that the contract also includes a price guarantee for 24 months and is actually significantly cheaper than the 12-month offers. Of course, this consideration of between 24 and 12 months also applies to a biogas tariff. If the 24 month contract is significantly cheaper, that would be my choice.
For your chances of betting, it is important that you - despite the uncertainties - have as much information available as possible.
For example, you should know that from the coming March gas providers will only be able to offer contracts that can be terminated at any time with one month's notice after the first term has expired.
So it could be that a three-month basic rate in the new year and a subsequent 12- or 24-month contract are even cheaper for you than switching immediately.
But no one can guarantee you that at the moment.