The Federal Cabinet today approved two energy conservation ordinances. Both ordinances are based on the Energy Security of Supply Act (section 30), and are making a significant contribution to ensuring the security of supply. Russia’s attack on Ukraine means the gas supply situation in Germany remains tense. The Federal Government and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action are therefore doing everything they can to reduce Germany’s dependency on Russian imports as quickly as possible through resolute measures in different fields of actions. The ordinances on energy conservation are an important field of action. Both include concrete measures for energy conservation for the next two heating periods and address the public bodies, companies and households. In addition to the conservation of gas, other measures to reduce electricity consumption are also envisaged as this helps to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity. One ordinance of short-term measures will apply from 1 September 2022 and be valid for six months. The second ordinance of medium-term measures will apply from 1 October 2022 and be valid for 24 months. The latter still requires the approval of the Bundesrat.
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action said, “The Federal Government is consistently pursuing policies to become independent of Russian energy supplies. We are expediting the construction of LNG terminals so that we have an alternative infrastructure for gas. We will also provide billions of euros of assistance to ensure that gas storage facilities are filled. And we are safeguarding the functioning of the gas market and thus the gas supply, not least by rescuing one of Germany’s largest importers of gas, in which the state now has shares. All of this makes a significant contribution to ensuring security of supply. It also, however, comes down to us conserving much more gas: in public administration, in companies and in as many households as possible. The ordinances adopted by the Cabinet today will make an important contribution to this. We are facing what will be a national effort. It requires intense collaboration on the part of the state, the economy and society, on the part of the Federal Government, individual states, municipalities, social partners, trade unions, the skilled craft sector, associations and civil society. Every contribution counts.”
The energy conservation ordinances adopted by the Cabinet today will also help Germany implement the European Union’s energy conservation rules. In view of the gas shortage artificially caused by Russia, the EU countries have committed to reducing their gas consumption by at least 15% from August of this year – in comparison to the average consumption of the last five years. Germany, which was particularly dependent on Russian gas over the years, has to reduce its consumption accordingly by 20%.
The ordinances adopted by the Cabinet today mean a small but vital contribution can be achieved. According to initial estimates, the implementation of measures contained therein will result in a decrease in gas consumption of roughly 2%. The measures for households, companies and the public sector will also pay off. If they are implemented, almost €10.8 billion will be saved over the next two years.
Description of measures laid out in the two ordinances:
A) Measures laid down in the Ordinance on Securing the Energy Supply through Rapid Impact Measures ()
This ordinance contains measures that can be implemented very quickly. The measures aim at creating savings that can already start to reduce energy demand during the current heating season. A special focus is placed on measures for the public sector, through which it can serve as a role model and provide orientation for other sectors with regards to what savings measures are feasible and practicable. The ordinance is valid for six months. It will be adopted directly by the Federal Cabinet without the involvement of the Bundestag or Bundesrat and will come into force on 1 September.
- Tenants to be given more scope to save energy
Tenants are to be given greater scope for saving energy. Some tenancy agreements currently contain clauses that stipulate a minimum temperature that must be maintained in rented rooms. This means that if such tenants wish to turn down their heating to below this level, they are in breach of their tenancy agreements. These contractual obligations are therefore to be temporarily suspended for the duration of the ordinance, so that tenants who want to save energy and turn down their heating are allowed to do so. As long as tenants adequately air their rooms, any damage to the buildings should be prevented.
- Ban on the use of certain types of heating for swimming and bathing pools
In buildings and private gardens, it is prohibited to heat private indoor or outdoor swimming and bathing pools, including stand-up pools, using gas or electricity from the power grid. An exception is made if they are used for therapeutic reasons. Pools run on a commercial basis are not affected.
- Energy-saving measures in public non-residential buildings
It is prohibited to heat spaces in which people do not regularly spend time, such as corridors or large halls, foyers or technical rooms, unless there are technical or safety reasons for doing so (e.g. reasons linked to the building physics or reasons of use, e.g. in the case of storage of otherwise hazardous objects or substances). Exceptions are made for facilities where higher air temperatures are needed to maintain the health of the persons occupying them, e.g. medical facilities, facilities for the disabled, care facilities, schools or day-care centres.
- 19-degree limit for workplaces in public non-residential buildings
In order for the public sector to fulfil its role of serving as an example for saving gas, as a temporary measure, the air temperature of offices in public, non-residential buildings may not exceed 19 degrees. The minimum temperature recommended for offices to date has been 20 degrees. This reduction in the air temperature also applies to other work spaces in public, non-residential buildings depending on the degree of physical exertion associated with the activity in these spaces. Here, too, exceptions are made for medical facilities, facilities for the disabled, care facilities, schools and child day-care centres etc.
- Heating systems for drinking water in public, non-residential buildings
In public, non-residential buildings, decentralised drinking water heating systems, in particular instantaneous water heaters and decentralised hot water storage tanks, must be switched off if they are primarily intended for washing hands and if hygiene regulations do not conflict with this. Exceptions are again made for medical facilities, facilities for the disabled, care facilities, schools and child day-care centres.
- Illumination of buildings or monuments
The use of outdoor illumination on buildings and monuments is prohibited, with the exception of safety/security and emergency lighting. Exceptions are made for temporary lighting during cultural events and public festivals and, in general, all cases in which lighting is needed to maintain road safety or to avert other dangers, and cannot be replaced quickly by other measures.
- Further and more detailed information for private energy-saving measures
Gas and heat suppliers are required to inform their customers about their energy consumption and costs, about the effects of current and potential future energy price increases, as well as about any savings potential – and to do so early on, at the start of the heating season at the latest. Owners of residential buildings whose buildings are supplied with piped gas or heat must forward this information to the users (duty to pass on information). Owners of residential buildings with ten residential units or more must also provide specific information on the consumption and cost of such gas and heat for each residential unit. For every price rise, updated information must be provided.
- Shop doors and entrance systems in retail
In heated retail premises, it is prohibited to keep shop doors and entrance systems permanently open if doing so results in a loss of heat. An exception is made if the doors need to be kept open in order for them to function as an escape route.
- Restrictions on use of illuminated advertising installations
It is prohibited to operate illuminated or light-emitting advertising installations from 10 p.m. until 4 p.m. the following day. This does not apply if the lighting is needed to maintain road safety or to avert other dangers, and cannot be replaced quickly by other measures. Exceptions are therefore made for regularly illuminated advertising media at passenger shelters (or waiting halls), stops and railway subways which, for reasons of operational safety and public order, are to be treated as street lighting.
- Minimum air temperature for workspaces in workplaces
For workspaces in workplaces, the minimum temperature is now defined as the specified maximum air temperature.
This ordinance includes measures that require a longer, medium-term timeframe in order to be implemented. The measures are aimed at making energy savings in the coming and the following heating season, but also have an effect beyond this. This ordinance is valid for two years. It requires the approval of the Bundesrat and is to come into force on 1 October.
Increasing energy efficiency in public, private and corporate buildings
- Obligation to check and optimise heating systems
All owners of buildings with gas heating systems must carry out a heating check within the next two years. It makes sense to combine this check with other activities that already take place, such as sweeping and inspections or scheduled heating system maintenance.
- Compulsory hydraulic balancing for owners of large buildings with central heating supply
Owners of large buildings with a central heating supply based on natural gas must carry out hydraulic balancing if this has not been undertaken so far. This applies to companies and public buildings (from 1000 m2 upwards) as well as large residential buildings with at least six residential units. This is an effective savings measure that, depending on the building, reduces gas consumption by about 8 kilowatt hours per square metre (8 kWh/m2). As this is a maintenance activity, it is the owner/lessor who is responsible for the costs.
Energy savings in companies
- Obligation to implement economic efficiency measures in companies
Companies with an energy consumption of 10 gigawatt hours (GWh) or more per year will be obligated to implement economic energy efficiency measures from 1 October. This applies to companies that have already carried out an energy audit – i.e. an analysis of their consumption and their savings potential – in accordance with the requirements of the Energy Services Act. Rapid measures that could be considered here: replacement of existing lighting with LEDs, optimisation of work processes and technical systems, e.g. compressed air systems. It is also mandatory for companies to carry out hydraulic balancing and to replace inefficient heating pumps.
Legal obligations and voluntary action complement each other
Both ordinances are part of a package of measures. Along with the immediate effects of saving energy, the measures are to act as a signal and serve as an example to follow. They thus aim to trigger voluntary energy saving measures. Only a small amount of the required energy saving can be achieved via the implementation of the energy conservation ordinances. A national effort is required. This requires intense collaboration on the part of the state, the economy and society, on the part of the Federal Government, individual states, municipalities, social partners, trade unions, the skilled craft sector, associations and civil society.
You can find the ordinances (EnSikuMaV) and (EnSimiMaV) (in German).