Heinz B. knows what it means to take a cold shower. The first thing he does is wet his hands. Then he guides the shower head up from his feet, bit by bit, so that the body gets used to the temperature. The worst: not the hair, not the head. The upper body, says B. You can still remember how his voice shook him. B. and his wife took a cold shower for two months after the flood on the Ahr destroyed their heating. But that was in the summer. "If that happens in winter," says Heinz B. - "good night."
A new existential fear is spreading and creeping far into society. A wealthy couple from Hesse buys electric blankets. A pregnant woman from Rhineland-Palatinate imagines sitting in a cold apartment with her newborn – while her husband earns well. The hairdresser from Berlin takes just one week's vacation this year because she would rather earn money and put it aside for the utility bills. Even in summer, Germans fear winter.
Every second low-income earner has to cut back
They have Putin's war, Putin's gas energy costs let it explode, that drives up all other prices. Inflation rates between seven and eight percent. Since May. At garden parties, at the Lillet Berry, people are amazed that organic butter now costs 3.49 euros. And what will happen without a tank discount and a 9-euro ticket? What is the impact of the gas surcharge? What will the planned relief bring? Four out of five Germans the Allensbach Institute recently discovered this on behalf of the FAZthe price increases are causing great concern. According to a study by Hans Böckler Foundation every second employed person with a household income of up to 2000 euros is forced to make restrictions.
Heinz B. from Sinzig an der Ahr sleeps badly. The brand new heater they installed for him in October at insurance costs works perfectly. But what if none gas more coming? Or will it get even more expensive? "And it doesn't say that it's just one winter," says the 69-year-old. So he lies awake and thinks: What to do?
B. would prefer to replace the gas heating with a combination of photovoltaics and heat pump exchange. Then he would be self-sufficient just in case. Cost point: 50,000 euros. "A normal pensioner doesn't have something like that under their pillow," says B. "I would have been willing to give my savings for it." However, while he was looking for tradesmen, the costs rose. In the meantime he would probably need up to 65,000 euros. "That's over my budget," sighs B.
When the industrial clerk at the age of 63 in pension left, he created an Excel spreadsheet to see if he could afford the early leap to freedom. Result: With his savings, his pension would have lasted for 20 years. "The older you get, the less you need," says B. You don't go on vacation every year anyway. Go out to eat every two or three months. At the time, he sold his second car and his motorcycle straight away. "We don't live badly," says B. The fact that his wife is now drawing a pension was still a promise. Because she was employed as a mother and housewife before her time, she gets 450 euros a month. "So we thought we could afford a better life," says B. He snorts. He has long since booked the extra money as an "energy subsidy".
Presumably, all fears will skyrocket
For 30 years, R + V Versicherung has been conducting a survey every year "The fears of the Germans". The evaluation for 2022 will not come until October. However, study director Brigitte Römstedt already says: "I fear that all fears will skyrocket." In times of crisis - for example at the height of Islamist terror - a "basic mood of fear" can be determined.