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Topic - Energy Transition in the Building Sector

Enhancing energy efficiency in buildings


Around 35% of our total final energy consumption goes on providing the comforts we need in the home, with most of it being used to provide heating and hot water. Where consumption is high, there is a lot of potential for energy savings.

There are many benefits of improving energy efficiency and using renewable energy to power the home. These include lower energy costs, greater living comfort, a higher property value and secure provision for retirement, as well as the valuable contribution that is made mitigating climate change. Why not start your personal energy transition now! The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will support you with a range of attractive funding programmes.

Lower costs and more convenience

Since 2000, around five million property-owners have implemented energy-efficiency measures in their buildings while benefiting from government funding. Making your home energy efficient undoubtedly saves you a great deal of money in heating costs and allows you to enjoy a pleasant indoor climate.

Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings

The Federal Government wants to make Germany's building stock virtually climate-neutral by 2050. In order to do this, more of our heating needs to be covered by renewables and our buildings made more energy-efficient.
Our Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings sets out a comprehensive strategy for this sector. It brings together the three aspects of electricity, heat and energy efficiency and provides a clear policy framework for the energy transition in the buildings sector. You can find more information here.

"Germany makes it efficient" information drive

The best and cheapest way of combating climate change is to reduce the amount of electricity that needs to be generated in the first place. This it why it really does ‘pay’ to be energy-efficient, in every sense of the word. In order to make our energy transition a success, we are seeking to become even more efficient in the way we use power and heat. Whether it’s the installation of a new heating system to replace the old one or of energy-efficient windows, the German Government is providing more than 17 billion euros of funding up to 2020 in order to help private households, companies and municipalities implement energy-efficiency measures. This is good for the environment, makes homes more comfortable to live in, and helps you save money. Information and advice on energy efficiency is available (in German) at or by calling freephone 0800 0115 000.

Advisory services

Good advice for the right modernisation

For anyone considering an energy retrofit, task number one is to obtain reliable information and expert advice. This is the only way in which a wise and informed decision can be made.

Personalised information and advice is available throughout the whole process, from gaining an initial overview right through to securing a detailed analysis.

The initial overview: advisory services provided by consumer centres

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.

"Building check" one of the services provided by the consumer centres

The ‘building check’ is a service designed for homeowners. It involves a two-hour appointment with an energy consultant from the consumer centre who will visit you at your home to take a closer look at your energy consumption and provide initial recommendations as to how you can best improve your energy efficiency. All of the energy advice provided and organised by the consumer centres is cofinanced by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Homeowners that wish to take advantage of the building check will therefore pay just 20 euros for the service. For further information, please call the freephone consumer-centre hotline on 0800 - 809 802 400.

"Heating checks" provided by the consumer centres

In addition to the ‘building check’, the consumer centres also offer a ‘heating check’ (launched at the start of October 2015), a useful service for anyone that owns a heating system. The heating check looks at the actual efficiency of the heating system when in use. It consists of a two-hour appointment with an energy consultant from the consumer centre who will visit you at home to provide you with practical tips on how to optimise your heating system, thus saving you money. This service is also part of the advisory services on energy cofinanced by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and is therefore available to consumers for the price of just 40 euros.

Practical tool: the modernisation wizard

The modernisation wizard provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is an online tool which you can use to ‘modernise’ your house on your computer. First, you need to enter data about the current state of the building by answering questions, such as: When was the building built? How big is it? What kind of heating is installed? How old is the heating system? You can then choose between different modernisation options: Do you want to insulate the outer walls? Do you want to install new windows? Or are you looking to replace the heating system? You provide the information about your building and in just a few mouse clicks, the online tool will help you assess what modernisation measures will truly pay off for you:

On-site energy consultation with energy efficiency experts

Booking a one-on-one on-site consultation will make help you identify your specific modernisation needs and put together a coherent overall modernisation strategy for the building. To make sure that everyone can afford this advisory service, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is providing part-funding for the costs. The volume of individual grants has been increased since March 2015. The energy consultant makes specific proposals on which modernisation measures suit the needs of your particular house and what government funding can be obtained to undertake these.
The on-site consultation is divided up into three steps. Please see our site (in German) Themenportal Deutschland macht`s effizient to learn more.

Figures and facts about the energy transition in the building sector

approx. 35
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per cent of total energy consumption

in Germany is used in our homes, most of it to provide heating and hot water.

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From 2006 until December 2016 4.6 million dwellings have been refurbished or newly built to be energy-efficient.

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million euros of funding per year
are provided under the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry’s Market Incentive Programme to drive forward the development of renewables in the heating market.

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per cent of the loan amount
is reimbursed to recipients of KfW loans of up to €100,000 granted for the energy-efficient refurbishment of private homes.

KfW funding

Energy-efficient refurbishment and government-funded construction

Under the KfW’s ‘Energy-efficient Refurbishment’ programme, the government supports the energy-efficient renovation of your building by covering up to 30% of the costs. As a rule, the more energy-efficient the building will be following the work, the higher the level of assistance.

KfW programmes for energy-efficient construction and refurbishment are already a driving force for energy efficiency in the buildings sector and a central instrument of the energy transition. Homeowners, businesses, municipalities and social institutions that make use of these programmes all benefit from low-interest loans and attractive grants to improve their building’s energy performance or to have a new, energy-efficiency building erected. An updated version of the KfW programme for Energy-efficient Construction came into effect on 1 April 2016. The KfW programme for Energy-efficient Refurbishment has been extended to include a heating and ventilation package, with the updated programme coming into effect on 1 January 2016. The extended programme includes funding for two special combined solutions that are to generate further savings and are designed to prevent damage to the building, (e.g. mould).

One in three retrofits benefits from KfW funding programmes

Roughly one in three retrofits in Germany benefits from KfW funding programmes. And nearly half of newly-built dwellings receive assistance from the KfW, and are thus being built to a better standard than is required by the Energy Saving Ordinance.
For more detailed information on KfW funding programmes and funding options, please click on one of the following links:

FAQs about thermal insulation of buildings

1. Is it really worthwhile for owners of houses and flats to insulate their property?

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2. Why does the improvement of the energy performance of the building stock influence the success of the energy transition?

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3. Does the manufacture of the insulating materials use up more energy than the insulation itself actually saves?

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Heating with renewable energy

Attractive funding assistance under the Market Incentive Programme (MAP)

Renewable energy has made major inroads in transforming the electricity market, but much potential still remains on the heating market. At the same time, Germany uses too much energy for heating: more than two thirds of all heating systems used in Germany are inefficient, and around 10 million boilers in the country are more than 15 years old.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has therefore improved its Market Incentive Programme (MAP) to encourage more owners of houses and apartments, as well as companies and municipalities, to use solar, biomass and geothermal energy for their heating needs.

More funding for solar thermal energy, biomass and heat pumps

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s MAP provides funding assistance for the installation of solar thermal installations, biomass heating systems and heat pumps for private individuals, providers of professional services, and companies. It also supports the construction of new, larger-scale heating plants which use renewable energy, such as deep geothermal installations and district heating networks to distribute heat generated from renewable energy, e.g. neighbourhood systems provided by municipalities.

MAP: two types of funding

With a funding pot of over €300 million per year, the MAP is a central instrument for expanding the use of renewable energy on the heating market. It makes an important contribution towards advancing the energy transition, since it encourages private individuals, companies and municipalities to invest in sustainable heating technology and to use renewable energy to meet their heating and cooling needs.
There are two types of funding available:

The main objective of the programme is to modernise existing buildings and commercial/industrial processes. In the case of new buildings, in contrast, funding is only available for certain innovative types of installations. This is because new buildings are already required to use renewable energy under the Renewable Energies Heat Act.

For more information on MAP funding assistance, please click on the following link:

Frequently asked questions about the Market Incentive Programme (MAP)

How can renewable energy be used to heat a building?

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What is the Market Incentive Programme (MAP)?

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Who can benefit from the Market Incentive Programme?

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Energy Efficiency Incentive Programme

Targeted funding for more investment in comfort and efficient heating in the home

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is promoting energy efficiency and climate change mitigation: the Energy Efficiency Incentive Programme expands the existing support available – to encourage more investment, better comfort and more efficient heating in people’s homes.

As part of its National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE), the Federal Government has already introduced a range of measures to boost energy efficiency and the energy transition in the buildings sector. On 1 January 2016, the new Energy Efficiency Incentive programme was also launched, providing a package of support for the modernisation of heating and ventilation systems that run on fossil fuel and renewable energy. The heating package provides funding for the replacement of inefficient heating systems with particularly efficient ones, and also offers a range of additional measures to help with optimising the heating system as a whole. The ventilation package provides support for the installation of ventilation systems as well as the modernisation of the building envelope, thus helping to prevent damage occurring to buildings (e.g. mould) and to improve the indoor climate.

For persons wishing to install a heating system that uses fossil fuels, applications for support from the ventilation and heating package can be made under the KfW Energy-Efficient Modernisation programme, with funding issued either in the form of a grant or a loan. For those wishing to install an energy-efficient heating system that uses renewable energy, applications for support can be made under the Market Incentive Programme for the use of renewables in the heating market (MAP).

In August 2016, the Energy Efficiency Incentive Programme was further extended, with the addition of the Energy-efficient Construction and Modernisation – Fuel-cell Grant operated by KfW. The programme covers stationary fuel-cell heating systems which have a power output of up to 5 kW. In a first step, funding will be provided for planned investments in construction and renovation projects undertaken by private owners of residential buildings and homes (natural persons). The fact sheet for this programme, together with all other important information (e.g. on how to apply) are available on the following homepage:

For more information, please go to:

Consultation on energy efficiency; Quelle: Ute Grabowsky/Photothek/Getty Images

© Ute Grabowsky/Photothek/Getty Images

Heating Optimisation Programme

Optimise your heating system and replace the pump to save energy

The Heating Optimisation Programme launched in 2016 has helped widen the energy transition to include household boilers. The programme is intended to boost the number of energy-efficient pumps being installed and to encourage the optimisation of existing heating systems.

Buildings account for around 35 per cent of Germany’s energy consumption and around one third of its greenhouse gas emissions. There is a lot of potential for saving energy in the buildings sector, particularly when it comes to heating. This has to do with the fact that many of the heat pumps installed in buildings are outdated and therefore use more electricity than is necessary. By installing state-of-the-art high-efficiency pumps, electricity consumption can be reduced by up to 80 per cent. Hydraulic balancing – which means making an existing heating system run more efficiently – can help bring down energy consumption even further, and does not require any construction work to be undertaken.

Heating Optimisation Programme launched

In August 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched its Heating Optimisation Programme, giving a fresh boost to drive to improve energy efficiency through funding. The programme is based on the “Guidelines for funding heating optimisation through the use of high-efficiency pumps and hydraulic balancing” (PDF: 367 KB, in German only).

By optimising heating systems to make them run more efficiently, homeowners, businesses and clubs can save both energy and money and help to drive forward the energy transition. The funding programme helps improve energy efficiency in buildings, making a key contribution to ensuring that Germany’s energy supply is efficient, secure and climate-friendly, and to meeting the goal of achieving a building stock that is close to being climate-neutral.

Funding under this programme is provided for the following two measures:

  • Replacing pumps
    The German government provides funding for the replacement of old heat and hot water pumps with high-efficiency ones.
  • Optimising heating systems
    The German government also provides funding for persons wishing to submit their existing heating systems to a process of hydraulic balancing. This involves a specialised company coming into the home to synchronise all the different components of the heating system in order to optimise it for use in the particular building in question. In addition to hydraulic balancing, funding is also provided for investing in existing heating systems or optimising them in other ways (like replacing thermostat valves).

It is, of course, possible to replace the pump and to optimise the heating system all in one go as well – a combination of measures that makes good sense. The German government also provides funding for combined action of this kind, covering up to 30 per cent of the optimisation expenses up to a maximum of 25,000 euros.

More information on how to apply for funding or on what measures are eligible for government funding can be found on the website of the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA). For more information, please visit:

Relevant regulations

Modern energy conservation legislation

The German government employs a host of measures to encourage greater energy conservation in the buildings sector. Public funding can however only be provided to support measures which go beyond what is legally required. The legal requirements in terms of energy conservation are laid out in energy conservation law. This legislation is continuously adjusted to take account of the latest technical possibilities and political goals or requirements, while fully respecting the principle of economic viability. A revision of the legislation is currently underway.

The regulations from Germany’s energy conservation law aim to strengthen energy conservation in buildings of all kinds and to foster the use of renewable sources of energy. This will reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and on imports of such fuels, strengthen security of supply and protect the climate.

The Energy Conservation Act (Energieeinsparungsgesetz) provides the legal basis for the following regulations:

  • Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV)
    The Energy Saving Ordinance stipulates all applicable energy standards for all types of buildin.
  • Renewable Energies Heat Act (EEWärmeG)
    The Renewable Energies Heat Act (EEWärmeG) defines the share of renewable energy that is to be used in buildings.
  • Heating Cost Ordinance (HeizkostenV)
    The ordinance stipulates that the dominant share of the costs to be billed for heating and warm water is to be determined by the user’s level of consumption.

You can find out more about the relevant legislation and ordinances here.

Buildings platform

Working together to foster the energy transition in the buildings sector

The Energy Transition in Buildings Platform works together with stakeholders from real estate, commerce, industry, consumer groups and the public sector to identify the many different ways in which the energy transition can be applied in the buildings sector and to develop appropriate measures based on these.

The plenary session of the Buildings Platform brings together the relevant stakeholders from commerce, civil society, science and the appropriate government ministries. In view of the many substantive links to the responsibilities of ministry in charge of the buildings sector, the plenary session is jointly co-chaired by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. The plenary sessions are used to discuss buildings-related findings and updates from the working groups of the two Energy Transition Platforms on Energy Efficiency and Buildings. Talks also take place with the Länder parallel to this.

In August 2016, the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry published a Green Paper on Energy Efficiency, thus launching a consultation and discussion process on political viewpoints and measures. Discussion of these matters was also taken up by the Buildings Platform. The Paper sets out key questions and points for discussion concerning the most important fields of action and the primary challenges that are faced when attempting to reduce energy consumption in the long term.

Detailed information on the work and findings of the Energy Transition Building Platform can be found here.

Further information

  • 01/08/2016 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    Press release: “We are bringing energy efficiency into the home”, Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on the launch of two new programmes for funding heating optimisation and fuel cell heating systems.

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  • 08/07/2016 - Press release - The Energy Transition

    Press release: Gabriel: The next phase of the energy transition can now begin

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  • 11/04/2016 - Joint press release - Energy Transition in the Building Sector

    Press release: New research initiative fosters energy transition in buildings and cities

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Scaffolded building symbolizes enhancing energy efficiency in buildings; Source: