Article - Energy Efficiency

What consumers need to know




Under the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE), there are several programmes that help individuals save money in the long run – from renovating their home to replacing an old heating system to buying energy-saving electrical devices. Below, we describe the new programmes for households and explain where you can get more information and advice.

Germany has around 18 million residential buildings with 40 million dwelling units. Many were built before 1979 and tend to be energy-inefficient. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy plans to step up energy consulting in order to highlight all the ways to lower energy consumption and costs and to stimulate investment in making buildings energy-efficient. This way, private households and commonhold associations can receive reliable, unbiased information that will help them understand and gauge their own energy consumption better.

That is why the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will be bolstering and improving its On-Site Consulting programme as of 1 March 2015. The first major change: an increase in funding. In the future, 60 per cent of consulting costs will be subsidised (previously 50 per cent). The subsidy ceiling will rise from EUR 400 to EUR 800 for single- and two-family homes and a sizable EUR 1,100 for buildings with three or more dwelling units. Starting March 2015, advisors will receive up to EUR 500 extra for advising a commonhold association since they have to present and explain their report not only to the property manager, but also at association meetings - several times, in many cases.

The second major change: Building owners can ask the auditor either for a plan to do all of the retrofitting in one go or for a roadmap for an extensive, but incremental modernisation approach with coordinated one-off measures or a set of combined measures. The ‘tailored modernisation roadmap’ provides individuals with an easy-to-understand overview of all the modernisation measures that need to be undertaken in a particular building. The roadmap points to untapped possibilities for energy conservation and the use of renewables, and also gives an estimate of the relevant investment costs and of the savings that could be achieved in terms of heating costs and carbon emissions. For further information on the tailored modernisation plan, please click here.

Qualified energy experts can be found here (only in German).

For house/flat owners: Simulating the modernisation of your building (only in German)

The "On-Site Energy Consulting: Sound advice for the best-possible modernisation" fact sheet is available here (PDF: 398 KB).

In April 2015, a new edition of the Market Incentive Programme (MAP) came into force. This new programme marks another important step towards implementing the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency. With new elements such as output-based support for solar thermal power and with more rigorous efficiency criteria, the MAP has set new benchmarks for the heating industry. The Market Incentive Programme has an annual volume of more than €300 million, making it the most important instrument designed to promote the use of renewables in the heating market.

Under the MAP, funding is provided for private consumers who decide to get on board the energy transition and have their heating system retrofitted to run on renewables. Funding is provided for the installation of solar thermal installations (with a collector area of up to 40 square meters), biomass-based heating systems (with a nominal heating capacity of up to 100 kW), and heat pumps (with a nominal heating capacity of up to 100 kW) and comes in the form of an investment grant which is paid out by the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (in German). The funding programme places a special focus on setting up new installations in existing buildings. In the case of new buildings, in contrast, funding is only available for certain innovative types of installations. Persons who set up installations that exceed the capacities mentioned above can also receive funding, namely under the ‘KfW Renewable Energy Premium programme (271)’ (in German). This funding comes in the form of repayment grants for low-interest KfW loans.

New procedure for applying for funding from the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control from 1 January 2018

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has revised the procedure for making applications to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, making it even clearer and easier to understand for those applying for funding, and harmonising all funding areas. From 1 January 2018, all applications for funding under the Market Incentive Programme need to be made before work on the heating system starts, i.e. before a contract with the heating technician is made. However, this does not apply to planning services. These can be ordered and provided prior to the application. As soon as the new heating system is operational, applicants can submit the required documents to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, which will then pay out the funding amount.

All applicants who start using their heating system in 2017 have nine months to submit their application for funding from the time the system starts operating.

For more information on the new application procedure and the rules that apply during the transition period, please call the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control at +49 (0)6196 908 2156 or +49 (0)6196 908 2721 (MAP division).

You can also find additional information about the Market Incentive Programme (MAP) on this website (in German) and in our FAQ section.

If you want to find out more about how you can apply for KfW funding, please go to (in German) or call the KfW Infocenter on freephone +49 (0)800 5399002.

If you want to receive general information about funding under the Market Incentive Programme, please consult the website of the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (in German) or call +49 (0)6196 908 1625.

On 1 January 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched its new Energy Efficiency Incentive programme (APEE), under which funding will be provided for the modernisation of heating and ventilation systems in the home. It was introduced instead of previous efforts to provide tax breaks for the energy-efficient retrofitting of buildings. The aim of the APEE is to create a stimulus for innovation and investment in efficient and renewables-based heating systems in the home. Under the APEE, a total of €165 million in funding will be available each year for a period of 3 years. This funding will be provided in the form of low-interest loans and grants.

The Energy Efficiency Incentive programme will build upon and strengthen the range of funding schemes that is already available. Home owners who would like to replace their heating system or install a ventilation system are eligible to apply for additional funding. For the very first time, support will also be provided for efficient combi-solutions.

The heating package will make funding available for the installation of particularly efficient heating systems, including measures to optimise the heating system as a whole (including radiators and pipes). This serves to promote a changeover to more efficient gas-based heating systems or heating systems based on renewables. The support provided for the installation of ventilation systems, combined with modernisation of the building envelope, will also help prevent damage occurring to buildings (such as mould) and for improving the indoor climate.

Persons wishing to install a heating system that runs on fossil fuels can apply for funding under the ventilation and heating package by using the same application procedure as under the KfW Energy-Efficient Modernisation programme (in German). Funding is available either in the form of a grant or as a loan. Under the heating and ventilation package, grants, for example, will be raised from 10% to 15% of the investment costs. Funding for fuel cell heating systems is available under the heading Energy-efficient Construction and Retrofitting - Fuel Cell Grant (in German). This scheme complements the existing funding programmes on energy-efficient construction and retrofitting (the Federal Government's CO2 Building Modernisation Programme). Private home owners have been able to apply for funding under the scheme since August 2016. In July 2017, the scheme was extended to non-residential buildings, meaning that the programme is now also open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), contractors, charities and local authorities. In view of the high investment costs for fuel-cell heating systems compared with conventional heating appliances, we want to assist the market roll-out.

Further information on the specific terms that apply can be found at (in German). Alternatively, you can call the KfW Infocenter on freephone 0800 5399002.

Persons wishing to install a heating system that runs on renewable energy can apply for funding under the ventilation and heating package by using the same application procedure as under the Market Incentive Programme (MAP) for renewable energies in the heat market. Those applying for funding under the heating package are also eligible to apply for a further 20% of the level of the funding amount that has previously been granted for heating-system replacements under the Market Incentive Programme (in German), and for a further €600 for heating system optimisation. The legal framework for this is provided by the Guidelines Promoting the Accelerated Modernisation of Heating Systems Using Renewable Energies. Further information on the specific terms that apply can be found at (in German). Alternatively, you can call the hotline set up by the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control at +49 (0)6196 9081625.

In order to promote investment, APEE will also include an extensive efficiency campaign.

Press releases

  • 30/06/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    Innovation in the heating market: funding for fuel cells will be expanded and 4th generation heating networks will be particularly promoted

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

    “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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The CO2 Building Modernisation Programme, under which funding is provided for the KfW programmes for energy-efficient construction and retrofitting, has been a great success. Over 4.6 million homes have been built or modernised to be energy-efficient since 2006, representing nearly €283 billion in total investment. As such, the programme has played an pivotal role in making thousands of buildings more energy-efficient well beyond the legal requirements. Now the duration of the programme has been extended until 2018 and €2 billion added to its previous financial envelope.

Funding takes the form of grants or low-interest loans that may be combined with loan-repayment grants. As a rule, financial incentives rise with the level of energy efficiency achieved.

  • Residential buildings: The “energy-efficient construction” and “energy-efficient retrofitting” programmes for residential buildings each come in two varieties, with funding available in the form of a loan or grant. The loans provided for KfW Efficiency Houses under the programme can now be as high as 100,000 euros, up from the previous 75,000. Similarly, the loan repayment and investment grants available under the ‘energy-efficient retrofitting’ programme have also been increased and a new repayment grant introduced for one-off measures to improve a building’s energy performance. As of April 2016, there has been a new KfW standard, the KfW Efficiency House 40 Plus, for which funding is now available under the “energy-efficient construction” programme. Funding for the KfW Efficiency House 70 is no longer available.
    Under the ‘energy-efficient construction and retrofitting – construction supervision’ programme, grants are also available for construction expertise and supervision services. This programme has now been expanded to cover one-off measures and the construction of new buildings.
  • Municipal and social service buildings: The programmes entitled ‘Investment loans for municipalities’ (IKK) and ‘Investment loans for municipal and social enterprises’ are designed to promote energy-efficient retrofitting and construction where community and local government buildings are concerned. Whilst the funding for retrofitting has been available for quite some time, funding for the construction of new buildings has only been available since October 2015.
  • Commercial buildings: In July 2015, the ‘KfW energy-efficiency programme for energy efficient construction and retrofitting’ was expanded to include commercial buildings. This leg of the programme has also been very successful, with more than 2,000 low-interest loans for energy-efficient retrofitting and construction approved since the start of the programme and an overall investment volume of some €7.6 billion. Altogether, it is fair to say that the individual programmes under the CO2 Building Modernisation Programme are a key driver of the energy transition.

Press releases

  • 01/04/2016 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    Changes to the KfW programme for energy-efficient construction as of 1 April 2016

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On 18 November 2015, the Federal Government adopted its Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings – a strategy for bringing about the energy transition in the buildings sector. It sets out a vision for how we can achieve an almost carbon-neutral building stock by 2050 by effectively combining the use of renewable energy with measures geared towards improving energy efficiency. The strategy is based on the efficiency first principle: this means that improving energy efficiency and therefore reducing energy demand will be the government’s number one priority; the remaining energy demand is then to be covered as much as possible by using renewable energy. Apart from technology and energy, the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings will also address economic and social aspects related to buildings. It also deals with overarching aspects of energy policy, such as issues related to interaction between electricity and heat.

The Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings seeks to enhance existing instruments, introduce new ones and provide incentives for building owners to up their investment in the modernisation of buildings to make them more energy-efficient.

Press releases

  • 30/06/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    Innovation in the heating market: funding for fuel cells will be expanded and 4th generation heating networks will be particularly promoted

    Open detail view

The EU energy label helps consumers choose devices that are particularly energy-efficient. They are a familiar sight in every modern-day appliances store: energy labels that feature prominently on fridges, TVs and other electrical devices. The colour-coded scale which runs from A (very high efficiency) to G (very low efficiency) provides consumers with information about how much energy a particular device uses. However, some product categories already have devices in efficiency class A+++. And it will be very difficult to mark out further improvements in efficiency by continuing along the same pattern.

In November 2015, the EU Member States decided to eliminate the A+ to A+++ efficiency classes, which had often been confusing to consumers, and return to the more effective A to G scale. The Federal Government had continually lobbied for this change to be made as the revised label will help consumers to better detect the differences in efficiency between several appliances and choose the most efficient one. In order to ensure that the label will not once again lose its effectiveness and to take account of further improvements in energy efficiency, the top categories – usually class A, and for product groups that show rapid technological development classes A and B – will be left empty. The EU regulation on the subject sets out clear procedures and deadlines for transitioning to the revised A to G label.

From 2019, all labelled products will be listed in a product database, which will make it possible for consumers to compare different products in terms of efficiency and make it easier for market surveillance authorities to monitor whether products carrying the label comply with the requirements.

Following the political decision on the new energy label of 21 March 2017 and the decisions made by the European Parliament and the Council in June of the same year, the Energy Labelling Regulation entered into force on 1 August 2017.

Press releases

  • 28/07/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    State Secretary Baake: “New energy label with clear A-G scale an important source of information for consumers”

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  • 28/07/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    State Secretary Baake: “New energy label with clear A-G scale an important source of information for consumers”

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  • 22/03/2017 - Press release - Energy Efficiency

    State Secretary Baake welcomes agreement on revised energy efficiency label

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The range of energy-efficient and high-quality washing machines, ovens and TVs is growing fast. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s National Top Runner Initiative seeks to further boost the roll-out of energy-efficient and high-quality products and encourage consumers to factor in energy efficiency when making a purchasing decision. This means that everyone needs to pull their weight: consumers, retailers and producers.

Consumers are given targeted information on energy-efficient products and how these products can be used to save energy. This is to make consumers more aware of the issue of energy efficiency and raise demand for energy-efficient products. Retailers can also do their bit and provide adequate information to their customers as they decide what product they want to buy and convince them of the benefits that buying an energy-efficient product would have. The Initiative helps retailers do that by providing them with information and expertise and by organising networking activities. Manufacturers also need to do their bit. They need to continuously develop and enhance technology and provide fresh ideas that will help improve energy efficiency. This is crucial as even though a product may seem extremely efficient today, it may be considered a big energy guzzler tomorrow.

So the National Top Runner Initiative focuses its activities on three key parts of the value chain: the production, selling and buying / using of the products. In order for these different activities to be well-coordinated, the National Top Runner Initiative is providing information and promoting dialogue.

  • Among its offers is, for example, a product search function (in German) that individuals can use to obtain information about energy-efficient products. The Initiative is planning to launch an information campaign, providing information about different product groups and about the revision of the EU energy label.
  • The Initiative is providing access to a network (in German), where retailers can engage in dialogue on sales activities, and customer information, and can work together on designing workshops for retailers (in German).
  • The initiative is providing support for producers who are developing innovative products, for example via the open innovation platform.

Representatives of all the important stakeholder groups have signalled their support for the NTRI objectives. These groups include the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI), Bitkom, the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF), the German Retail Trade Association (HDE), the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) and Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (Friends of the Earth Germany). The organisations have issued a joint statement in which they pledge to drive forward the development and sale of energy-efficient products and the energy-efficient use of these products. This new initiative helps to considerably improve energy efficiency, reduce energy demand and therefore make a key contribution to implementing the energy transition. So energy efficiency really does pays off!

The National Top Runner Initiative was launched on 1 January 2016 and is being continuously being developed by working with consumers, retailers and producers. The launch event was held on 14 June 2016 at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Further information can be found here (in German).

More than 70 per cent of the heating systems currently used in Germany are less than efficient. On average, they were installed 17.6 years ago. And 36 per cent of Germany’s heating systems are more than 20 years old. At the current rate of a little more than 3 per cent per year, it would take approx. 25 years to renew all of the systems installed in Germany.

We want to speed up this process. This is why the German government introduced an efficiency label for existing heating systems in 2016. The efficiency label is free of charge and wants to educate consumers about their boiler’s energy performance, making it more likely that they will swap their old boiler for a more efficient one. But our efforts do not stop here. Consumers are also given information about energy audits and about the funding available from KfW and the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control.

We expect that the replacement rate for heating systems will rise by approx. 20 percentage points per year as a result of the new efficiency label. As from 2016, heating installers, chimney sweeps and selected energy consultants have had permission to attach these labels to old boilers. Since 1 January 2017, district chimney sweeps have been under obligation to label all devices that have not yet been labelled. Altogether, some 13 million boilers will have a label attached over the next eight years.

Under the new energy-savings meter pilot programme, companies providing their customers with the metering infrastructure, data tools, and additional services they need to save energy are eligible to receive up to €1 million in funding per project. By launching this new programme, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is seeking to further promote the use of smart home, smart building and smart production applications and other smart systems that help users reduce their energy consumption.

By connecting existing devices or systems to the internet, users can receive customised advice and services that help them save energy. This is to help users make informed decisions and identify

  • how much electricity is consumed by a particular device in their home,
  • which devices or systems use the most electricity and therefore drive up costs,
  • the most effective way to bring down their energy consumption.

So energy-saving meters show users where they use the highest amounts of energy and which measures are the most effective to improve energy efficiency and therefore to save energy and money. Energy-saving meters help users become more aware of how much energy they are actually using and take steps to reduce their energy consumption.

Under the programme, funding is available for companies that are trying out, enhancing and marketing digital solutions for reducing electricity, gas, heat and cooling consumption by providing these solutions to final consumers. This is being done as part of a number of pilot projects that cover different sectors and a wide range of different users.

The funding guidelines governing the energy-savings meter pilot programme were published on 20 May 2016 and entered into force the next day. Applications for funding can be submitted via the website of the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (in german).

Further information can be found here (in german).

On 1 August 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy launched its programme for funding heating optimisation via highly efficient pumps and hydraulic balancing (in german) (PDF, 367KB). The programme provides funding for measures that require only a small investment to be made and creates incentives for consumers to improve their existing heating systems. This means that consumers will be able to reduce their energy and heating costs, receive a government grant of up to 30 per cent of their investment, and also make a contribution to transforming Germany’s energy supply.

The programme provides funding for the installation of highly-efficient heating and hot water circulation pumps, the use of hydraulic balancing and other measures that require only a small investment to be made such as buying pre-adjustable thermostatic valves and having these valves installed by a professional. In 2017, €360 million will be available under the programme; and between 2018 and the end of 2020, €470 million will be available each year.

One key characteristic of the programme is that it provides funding for measures that can be implemented easily and without major changes having to be made to the building whilst at the same time having the potential to make the heating system run much more efficiently. Pumps and thermostatic valves can be replaced within hours, and in smaller buildings, the process of hydraulic balancing can be completed within one day. The measures can even be implemented during the heating period.

Applications for funding need to be submitted to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control. You only need to complete two steps to receive funding. Step 1: Go to the website of the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (in german) for registration; step 2: Have the work completed and submit the required data via the online portal operated by the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (in german).

For more information about the programme, go to (in german) and (in german), or call 0800 0115 000 to use the free hotline operated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Further information