Water: Water is normally billed based on usage and charged with the rent. Water in Germany is generally hard, but there are a number of filter systems available to reduce or eliminate the calcium ( Kalk) that builds up on heating elements and in pots and pans.
Electricity and gas: Each tenant must register with the local gas and/or electricity company. The landlord, house manager or caretaker can tell you who is responsible for supplying the gas and electricity and where you should register.
Electricity rates in Germany are among the highest in Europe. The easiest thing to do is register with your local electricity supplier, but you can also chose from a range of alternate providers. There are often major price differences depending on which company supplies your electricity. Some suppliers offer discount tariffs late at night ( Nachttarif) and you can also make ecological choices (such as environmentally-friendly electricity or nuclear!) There are consumer advice centers and websites that provide information on electricity and costs, including www.billig-strom.de, www.stromtarife.de and www.stromtip.de.
If you have a property where solar panels can be installed, you might want to consider this as there are several programmes which provide subsidies for their installation - professionals can provide advice, here are some solar panel installers.
Electricity outlets: 220 volts - 50 Hz AC. Two-pin standard European plugs will fit all outlets. Depending on the nation you come from, you might need adapters and transformers.
Oil and Coal heating: The costs of central heating are also included in the overall rent costs. Single storey heating, coal heating, gas and oil heating are charged separately. The tenant is responsible for payment and ensuring adequate supplies (as long is this is not included in the Warmmiete).
Generally high levels of environmental consciousness mean it is common in Germany to separate rubbish for recycling and disposal. There are normally several different bins in each apartment block. Paper, glass and packaging are often collected separately. Packaging often has a Grüner Punkt symbol to show it can be recycled. Food and organic waste is collected separately for compost. Finally, there is Restmüll (other rubbish) which is what doesn't fall into other categories.
Chemicals: All rubbish containing poisons or chemicals (e.g. fridges, paints, batteries, etc.) have to be taken to specials depots and cannot be put in regular rubbish bins. These depots are run by the local garbage disposal companies. Batteries can also often be disposed of in supermarkets or electrical goods stores.
Bulky waste: Old furniture and large electrical goods are picked up by garbage disposal firms and are classified as Sperrmüll (bulky waste). The days when such goods are picked up are published in the local town hall or your Bezirksamt (district office). In some towns, a date can be arranged personally with the garbage disposal firms.
Clothes: Old shoes and clothes can often be disposed of in large containers in towns and cities across Germany. Several times a year the Red Cross and other organisations call on citizens to dispose of their old clothes and donate them to charity. You can find the addresses in the Yellow Pages or at your post office.