The environment-friendliest and cheapest kilowatt hour is the one we do not consume at all. The more consciously and efficiently we use electricity and heat, the less we need to generate. This saves money while improving supply security and helps us achieve our climate targets. That is why energy efficiency makes up the twin pillar to renewables expansion in the energy transition. Our aim is to make a 20 per cent reduction in primary energy consumption by 2020 compared with 2008 and halve it by 2050.

To reach this target, the German Federal Government launched a comprehensive strategy on 3 December 2014: the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE). All the measures under NAPE adhere to a common principle: Supply information - Provide support - Demand action.

Why is energy efficiency so important?

Investments in energy efficiency are good for the environment, but they also make economic sense. In the long term, they can save citizens money! Making investments in energy efficiency, for example, usually yields a higher return than on capital markets. Higher energy efficiency also makes our business and industry more competitive internationally - because consuming fewer resources and emitting less CO2 affords companies a cost advantage. The economical use of energy will also give rise to new business models and innovative technologies and services, where German industry can gain a lead on international markets.

Supply information - Provide support - Demand action

With NAPE, we are looking to motivate all social actors to make more economical use of energy - local authorities, enterprises and consumers alike - because energy efficiency is a task for all of us. But citizens, businesses and municipalities can only improve their energy efficiency if they actually know where they can make savings. In NAPE, we therefore place emphasis on supplying more information and advice. Another priority is the purposeful and innovative promotion of efficiency investments: Besides granting tax incentives for efficiency measures in residential buildings and special depreciation allowances for commercially-used electric vehicles, this is why NAPE also includes a new kind of competitive tendering scheme. The third NAPE principle is to call on industry to make its contribution: The Action Plan obliges large-scale enterprises to conduct energy audits and sets standards for new installations and buildings. In up to 500 energy-efficiency networks, enterprises will also be expected to define joint efficiency targets themselves and implement these as a group.

The NAPE measures will have impacts in the short, medium and long term: The Action Plan comprises short-term measures that will already take effect as of 2015 as well as longer-term work processes for the remainder of the legislative term.