The extent of the explosion in gas prices for private consumers is becoming ever clearer. An average four-person household could face additional gas bills of several thousand euros a year. The new gas levy is to apply for a year and a half from October 1st. The ordinance of the federal government should enable gas importers to pass on the sharp rise in purchase prices due to the throttling of Russian deliveries to all gas consumers.

It is still unclear how high the additional costs for the levy are. “We expect that it will be between 1.5 and 5 cents per kilowatt hour,” said Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Thursday on the sidelines of his summer tour in Saxony-Anhalt. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke last week of two cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), which would correspond to an additional annual burden of 200 to 300 euros for a family of four. How high the levy is depends on how the gas market prices and thus the losses for the gas importers develop. “The bitter news is that it’s definitely a few hundred euros per household,” said Habeck.

However, the surcharge is only part of the additional costs. In addition, industrial customers and private households have to cope with the already rising gas costs. According to the portal “Check24”, an average household with 20,000 kilowatt hours of consumption per year would now pay an average of 3415 euros per year for gas if a new contract was concluded – three times as much as in the previous year.

“With a surcharge of five cents per kWh, including VAT, there would be additional costs of 1190 euros,” says “Check24” when asked by the Tagesspiegel. The average household would then pay 4605 euros – an increase of 254 percent compared to the previous year. When the price increases reach households varies greatly due to the different contracts. Some households have to do it today, while others won’t be able to pass it on until next year.

Social associations are therefore now sounding the alarm. “Additional costs of several hundred euros for gas are ruining poorer private households,” said Verena Bentele, President of Germany’s largest social association VdK. Even now, people with low incomes do not know how to pay for their purchases. “Therefore, the housing allowance urgently needs to include a flat-rate heating fee,” Bentele told the Tagesspiegel and also called for a “moratorium on termination” from politicians. “When it gets colder, landlords shouldn’t throw anyone out on the street because they can no longer pay their heating bills.”

The President of Caritas, Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa, also warned: “Anyone who has always had to use special offers to make ends meet has no buffer.” She called on the traffic light government to relieve the burden in a more targeted manner than with the tank discount happened. “The amount of the planned citizens’ benefit must be sufficient to secure a living, correspond to the current price level and its calculation must be adjusted in a timely manner,” Welskop-Deffaa told the Tagesspiegel.

Economists meanwhile consider the price increase to be too low. “The price signal comes much too late,” said Klaus Schmidt, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Economics Ministry, in a press conference. He called on the government to give more incentives for private energy saving.

For example, a regulation could be created that would guarantee consumers the old gas prices for 80 percent of their previous year’s consumption. Anything beyond that would then have to be paid for at a significantly higher market price. “The most effective and efficient rationing mechanism is the price mechanism,” Schmidt said. And further: “How scarce gas becomes in winter has not yet arrived at all in society.”