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WIESBADEN, Germany - With rising energy costs, utility customers are being warned to expect higher year-end bills.

European utility companies often charge estimated monthly amounts based on prior usage at the residence. At the end of a 12-month period they will then request a meter reading from the resident to calculate charges based on actual usage. If the monthly estimated amount was too low, the customer will owe money. If the monthly estimated amount was too high the utility will refund the difference. With utility costs going up in Europe monthly pro-rated amounts will most likely not be enough to cover actual usage. The result may then be a large year-end bill. Customers should be aware and prepare for such a scenario.

What are some things customers can do now to plan ahead and avoid a surprise bill at the end of the year?

Pay extra attention to conserving energy

Turn off the lights and appliances when not in use, eliminate transformers wherever possible, be mindful of thermostat settings and weatherize your home to stop drafts. These are just a few ideas to help with conserving energy, check out more tips from U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria at or the Department of Energy at

Submit out-of-cycle meter readings to your local utility and track your usage

Utility providers usually keep monthly rates the same until the billing cycle ends and usage is reconciled. Households can submit additional out-of-cycle meter readings at any time during the year to the utility supplier and discuss usage levels versus monthly payments. This will ensure monthly pro-rated amounts are adjusted if needed and are where they should be, not too low or too high. Actual meter readings can be provided to electricity suppliers via the Internet (in some cases), telephone, returning a filled out meter reading postcard, or by giving the meter reading to your garrison tax avoidance program office for forwarding. Regularly tracking usage also can help customers plan for what their end-of-year bills may look like and save them from surprise costs.

Adjust your monthly prorated amount with your utility supplier or garrison tax avoidance program office to cover increasing costs

Contact your garrison tax avoidance program office to adjust your utility deductions. Customers who do not use a garrison program for utilities should contact their utility provider directly.

Request a Living Quarters Allowance reconciliation

Living Quarters Allowance is granted to help defray housing costs at foreign posts where housing is not provided. Rates are designed to substantially cover the average employee’s costs for rent, utilities and other allowable expenses. LQA reconciliation is required 12-15 months after moving into a new residence. If there is a significant increase or decrease in utility costs, customers can also request a voluntary reconciliation. For more information on LQA reconciliation, visit (CAC required).

Take cost of living surveys

Cost of Living and Overseas Housing allowances are determined by several surveys throughout the year. It’s important to participate in these when they are available to ensure allowances are adjusted based on actual living costs. Keep an eye on garrison news sources for information on upcoming surveys.