Wednesday, December 03, 2008



We have radiator heat in our apartment. There's a huge radiator in the living room and a smaller one in the bedroom, as well as two flat little ones in the bathroom and even the kitchen. It's gotten really cold lately but we try to keep our use to a minimum because it's quite expensive!

They measure our usage of the radiator in a very strange, old-fashioned way. There are liquid-filled meters on each radiator. When the radiator gets hot, the liquid evaporates. So the less liquid is left at the end of the year when the meter-reader comes, the more you have to pay for heat.

We didn't even realize this was how it was done until a meter-reader came last year, checked them all, and refilled them with more liquid. We thought it was a little weird and vowed to leave one radiator never turned on to see if the liquid evaporated on its own. The picture on the right is our kitchen radiator meter. It does evaporate on its own! There's got to be a better way to meter our heat!

Speaking of meters, the water meter reader was due to stop by the apartments in our building between 3 and 5 pm yesterday. A sign outside noted this and mentioned there would be a 20 EUR fee to make a new appointment for anyone who wasn't home to let the meter reader in during this time. Yes, the water meters are ever-so-conveniently located right in our bathroom above the toilet (see left - the hot and cold water meters). I made sure to be home during that time yesterday, and no one came! The sign is gone. What happened? (And why aren't the meters somewhere else anyway? And is it normal everywhere to be metered separately for hot water?)


  1. I don't even WANT to know how much you're paying for heat / gas / electricity in your apartment. We were considering living in the German economy when we moved here, but it's a good thing we changed our minds! :)

  2. Germans don't care for customer service in any form.

  3. That's what those are? I had no idea. And yeah, they are totally not full on ours, even though we've never turned on most of the radiators.

  4. This is kinda funny cause my landlord (or her son anyway, at least I think it was her son, if not I let some large creepy German man in at night when I was home alone with my kids...hmm) anyway he read our meter today. All I caught of what he said was 'wasser and kellar'. I had no warning and nearly died when he went into the laundry room - piles o laundry I didn't get to today! Not to mention my very bad habit of chucking the kids pj's down the steps to the basement where the laundry room every morning. Yeah they were still sitting there at 6 pm.

    Definitely inconvenient places to have meter thingies!

  5. Hmmm, we got switched to centralized heating this year. Single meter system in the basement for all apartments.
    Before that, we had a centralized gas-fired boiler in the bathroom. And before that, there was only a single gas-fired oven in the living room - and a wood-fired one in the bedroom. Only one meter for the gas to check - and of course all gas-fired systems to be checked annually. Mind you, that was less than 5 years ago.

    Haven't had the heater on this year yet. Unless temperature drops another 10 degrees probably won't need it this winter anyway.

  6. You need to send them a bill for not showing ....

  7. How much has the level of the non-gone-on radiator compare to that of the radiators you've been using? I mean, is it actually the fuel that costs money, or is it just having the radiator in your apt?

  8. Bchai: Yeah, it's a lot. I know many people of similar status to us (student/postdoc) who never turn on their heat because of the cost. Luckily German apartment buildings are not drafty and one can mostly get away with this.

    Jimmy: I think they care for GETTING it, but not giving it!!

    Jul: We didn't know for the first year either!

    Mama: I hate the part about letting people into our place the most! I wish the meter were on the outside and they could just walk up to it.

    Kato: We had wood heat growing up! Veeeery toasty!! :)

    Mike B: Srsly!!! There's a new sign up now that they're coming next Wednesday and they still had the gall to write on it that they'll charge us 20 EUR if we're not home. Total BS!

    Mary: The radiator that we've turned on briefly about 10 times has liquid only up to level 5 or so. It's gone down a lot considering how little we've left it on.

  9. Is it just me or do radiators never ever fully heat the house? I am always in sweatpants and hoodies, not matter what the heat is on. And you're right the bills are insane! At least we can control our own, and there are no liquid meters, and not in the old central heated places where the whole building pays together, splitting the bill.

    Btw, does Germany have exhausts in bathrooms? Because we have just open the window. Not pleasant in the winter.

  10. that boring german guy (is back!)Sunday, December 14, 2008 12:39:00 pm

    The meter readers are ordered and paid by your landlord - so technically speaking HE is that guy's customer to be cared of ;)

    The landlord uses the data to split up the maintenance and fuel costs on a fair basis between the occupants.
    So when a certain amount of liquid evaporates in any case, it should be the same amount (being the "zero line") for all renters using the same technique.

    Here at my place the landlord changed the liquid meters for wireless digital units some years ago - but still based on the same method (taking the temperature of each radiator).

    That also means someone living in 2nd floor and not using his own radiators can scrounge the heat from the 1st and 3rd floor neighbours who have to heat more for keeping the same temperature at their places.

  11. Yankee: We have a fan in our bathroom but it isn't that effective. There's no window. We had a hard time in Boston with this though - we never had a fan in our bathrooms there!!

    German Guy: Welcome back! So I can make my landlord come be here during the new 3-hour window they are now setting up for us? :) (And still they say they will charge 20 EUR if we aren't home....even though they didn't show last time!!)


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