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Article - Energy Efficiency

‘Germany makes it efficient’


Energy efficiency pays off: the cleanest and cheapest energy is energy that we don’t use in the first place. In order to make our energy transition a success, we need to become even more efficient in the way we use power and heat.

The objective is to make more out the energy we use. We want to do what we do with as little energy as possible – and make sure that most of the energy we use is renewable energy. This is what the German energy transition is all about. We’re moving in the right direction: according to the first extrapolations by the Working Group on Energy Balances (AGEB), primary energy consumption was lower in 2018 than in 2008. But we still have a long way to go. After all, the energy transition will only succeed if all of us work together to improve energy performance and reduce our energy consumption.

Energy efficiency benefits all sides – and also saves money

First of all, a better energy performance benefits the climate. Better energy efficiency means lower carbon emissions. It can also save private households, companies and municipalities some real money. It is therefore not surprising that returns on investments in energy efficiency tend to be higher than returns on secure investments in the capital market.

Using less energy to generate more growth

Improved energy efficiency will also put German companies in a better position to compete globally. Businesses that produce more products using fewer resources and that cut their emissions are able to operate at a lower cost than their rivals. Furthermore, energy efficiency is a driver of new business models and innovative technologies and services that give German businesses an edge over their competitors from abroad.

Figures and facts at a glance

Symbolicon für Wachstumskurve

per cent
less primary energy is to be consumed in Germany by 2050 (compared with 2008).

Symbolicon für Hasuhalt

per cent
The percentage of power consumers save when using appliances rated A+++ compared to ones rated A+.

> 200
Symbolicon für Netzwerke

new energy efficiency networks
have already been formed, bringing together industry, trade and the skilled crafts.

Symbolicon für Heizen

million heating systems
in Germany are more than ten years old – and often very inefficient.

Advice and funding

Energy: making more out of less

The Federal Government operates a raft of consulting and funding programmes to help individuals and companies reduce their energy consumption by improving efficiency.

Energy efficiency pays off: for private citizens, companies and municipalities. Before you invest in improving the energy efficiency of your home or business, having the right information is key. The German government is providing a wide range of different information services and funding programmes.

Energy-efficiency hotline

As part of its ‘Germany makes it efficient’ campaign, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action has launched a freephone service hotline. Individuals and companies can call 0800 0115 000 to learn more about the many programmes Germany has launched to support the move towards greater energy efficiency. For more information and practical tips, please go to (in German).

Services for consumers: initial advice and energy audits

If you’re looking to gain an initial overview and tips on how to conserve energy, the consumer centres are a good place to start. They offer a wide range of information services on their websites, over the phone, and can even come to your home. You can also have an energy audit at your house, which will allow homeowners and tenants to learn how to conserve energy at home. For further information, please click here.

The Label Guide (in German) and a range of infographics and checklists (in German) help consumers to find the appliance that best suits their needs. The consumers can also benefit from tips on how to use their existing equipment in a way that saves more energy, thus cutting their electricity bills.

Energy audits and funding for companies

Like private consumers, companies also stand to save a great deal of money if they invest in energy-efficient machinery and processes. SMEs in Germany can benefit from a whole raft of advisory services and funding programmes that are all tailored to help them improve their energy performance. These include funding for energy management systems, systems to prevent and/or use waste heat, support with investments in energy-efficient and climate-friendly production processes, and support for energy advice for companies. For an overview of all the different programmes available to companies, please click here.

Reaching the target more quickly: the energy efficiency dialogue

We can only get more companies, municipalities and private households to understand and use the funding available for energy efficiency measures and progress the energy and heat transition if we work together and exchange experience with multipliers. The energy efficiency dialogue therefore addresses stakeholders like associations and chambers, energy agencies, Länder and municipalities, and banks. It aims to identify shared communication channels in order to give energy consumers targeted information about energy efficiency measures. Find out more here (in German).

Getting hold of funding more quickly and easily

The “Energy efficiency and heat from renewables support strategy” (in German) is a comprehensive concept for a reform of the funding. Under it, the various support programmes are being gradually (from 2017 to 2020) restructured, packaged together thematically and targeted at specific audiences. Interested parties – whether they are citizens, companies or municipalities – should thus be able to quickly find the right funding programme for them and easily complete the application process.

In parallel, an “efficiency path-finder” is being built up which guides applicants to tailored funding programmes and provides them with all the necessary information in an easy-to-understand form.

Energy-efficient products and the efficiency label

The greener, the more efficient

Energy labelling indicates products’ energy consumption levels and makes it easier for consumers to choose energy-efficient products. This also creates greater competition among manufacturers.

The colour-coded efficiency label introduced by the EU gives consumers better information about products’ energy consumption, helping them choose energy-efficient products.

The EU Energy Labelling Regulation stipulates that the label is to be used for all products that use relevant amounts of energy. This applies not only to whiteware, but also products used commercially and products that don’t use energy themselves but have a strong impact on the amount of energy consumed elsewhere (i.e. insulated windows). Heating systems and boilers are another important group of products that are now being labelled.

Save energy and money by using highly efficient appliances

The EU energy label not only provides information about the efficiency of the respective appliance but – depending on the type of product – also provides information about aspects like the water consumption (in the case of washing machines and dishwashers) and the noise level. In this way, the label helps consumers to compare different appliances. The explanatory film "Das Energielabel – Wegweiser zum Stromsparen im Haushalt" (in German) briefly summaries the key points.

The Label Guide (in German) is part of the National Top Runners initiative (in German) and helps consumers to understand the energy label, which is a transparent aid to decision-making and highlights the key features of energy-efficient appliances. Also, the information provided by the Initiative guides consumers step by step towards the best appliance for them, and shows them how to use their appliances in a way that saves energy. The information can be found here (in German).

For further information on the energy performance of products, please click here.

Efficiency label for old heating systems

Some 35% of the energy consumed within the building sector in Germany is used for heating and hot water. Since January 2016, Germany has been rolling out a new efficiency label to be used on all boilers that are more than 15 years old. This is to inform consumers about their boiler’s efficiency rating and about the advisory and funding services that are available – and to ultimately encourage them to have a new and more efficient boiler fitted. The labelling is to increase the rate at which older heating systems are being replaced and to persuade consumers to conserve energy. Heating technicians, chimney sweeps and certain energy consultants have been licensed to issue the labels and it has been mandatory for district chimney sweeps to do so since 2017.

Energy consumption labelling for passenger cars

The Ordinance on Energy Consumption Labelling provides information on the energy efficiency of passenger cars. Prospective car buyers can go to to find answers to questions including: Which car is the right one for me? Which are the most efficient car models within each class of vehicle? What vehicles exist with alternative propulsion and how do they compare to vehicles with internal combustion or diesel engines? What are the running costs for my dream car? The colour-coded CO2 efficiency scale compares a vehicle's CO2 efficiency to other models. Efficiency rates are calculated from the vehicle’s carbon emissions, taking into account the weight of the vehicle. The scale ranges from 'A+' (very efficient) to 'G' (rather inefficient). The running costs for cars listed in the 'green' efficiency categories A+, A and B are particularly low, thanks to the lower vehicle-tax rate that applies and lower fuel costs.

The website also has some practical tips for car dealers, including how to read the energy-efficiency label for electric cars, and on how to display this information in the showroom. For more information on the passenger-car label, please click here.

European framework

Making energy efficiency a European objective

Conserving energy is one of the key objectives adopted by the European Union. The EU Member States have agreed to cut their primary energy consumption by 32.5% by 2030.

A key steering instrument at European level is the EU Efficiency Directive (EED).

There is massive potential for better energy conservation across all sectors in Europe. In 2018, the EU Member States agreed to cut their primary energy consumption by 32.5% by 2030 (compared with a reference development without fresh measures). In 2018, the European Union adopted the new version of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), thus taking extensive action to lower Europe’s energy consumption. A key element of the Directive is the obligation for Member States to roll out state measures to generate annual reductions in final energy consumption.

Countries and markets

Finding new markets

The Energy Export Initiative provides support for small and medium-sized energy companies in Germany, and helps them access new markets abroad.

The initiative targets companies that provide solutions around renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and energy storage. The focus is also shifting to new technologies like power-to-gas and fuel cells. So why don’t you use this export initiative to boost your company’s exports? For more detailed information about the initiative and its various components and for an events calendar, please click here or visit the Export Initiative website.

Networks and platforms

Joining forces for better energy efficiency

The German government has signed an agreement with various business associations and organisations, introducing energy efficiency networks across all of Germany.

Energy efficiency networks – a platform for companies to share their expertise

The aim behind this alliance is to create around 500 new networks by the end of 2020, thereby making an important contribution towards raising energy efficiency performance in industry, the skilled crafts sector, trade, and commerce. Each energy efficiency network consists of at least 5 member companies. Since the initiative was first launched, more than 200 new networks have already been set up, involving more than 1,800 companies. Click here for more information about energy efficiency networks.

The Energy Transition Platform on Energy Efficiency

Improving a country’s energy efficiency performance is a task for all of society that can only be shouldered if all the relevant stakeholders are prepared to do their bit. Since 2014, the German government has used the Energy Efficiency Platform to discuss new strategies for better energy efficiency in Germany with all the relevant stakeholders. Within the Platform there are various working groups that focus on developing various aspects of energy-efficiency policy, including financial aspects, legal aspects, and advice and consulting. For more information about the Energy Efficiency Platform and its working groups, please click here.

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