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Der sogenannte Normalbürger merkt das nicht zuletzt daran, dass die Nebenkosten zum Wohnen, die größtenteils durch Gas und Rohöl verursacht werden, stetig steigen.

The phrase merkt das nicht zuletzt daran confuses me, because after searching through a few online dictionaries I still couldn't find the meaning of it.

My second question is, what dass die Nebenkosten zum Wohnen..... refers to? is it either das or daran in the aforementioned phrase?

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  • What meanings did the dictionaries give that confuse you? LEO gives "not least" and "if nothing else".
    – RHa
    Jul 16, 2022 at 8:10

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Let's break down the sentence:

Der sogenannte Normalbürger merkt etwas.
The so-called Joe Sixpack ("normal citizen") becomes aware of something.

Der sogenannte Normalbürger merkt das.
The so-called Joe Sixpack becomes aware of that. (probably referring to the previous sentence)

Der sogenannte Normalbürger merkt das daran, dass ...
The so-called Joe Sixpack becomes aware of that by the fact that ...

For example,

Es regnet. Der sogenannte Normalbürger merkt das daran, dass er nass wird.
It's raining. The so-called Joe Sixpack becomes aware of that by the fact that he's getting wet.
It's raining. The so-called Joe Sixpack becomes aware of that because he's getting wet.

Back to your problem sentence,

Der sogenannte Normalbürger merkt das daran, dass die Nebenkosten stetig steigen.
The so-called Joe Sixpack becomes aware of that by the fact that the extra expenses (in addition to the rent, for utilities etc.) keep rising and rising.

So, the "das" refers to what the subject becomes aware of, and the "daran" refers to the subclause that spells out the reason why the subject becomes aware of it.

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