Last changed: 9/04/13
In what areas can we save energy and energy costs at the same time? How many power stations could we close down as a result of systematic electricity saving? What are the obstacles that stand in the way of energy saving? How can policymakers promote energy saving? What can each one of us do to save energy?
Energy saving means using less delivered energy (electricity, fuel) to provide the same energy services, such as having a warm and bright living space or manufactured product.
There are opportunities for saving energy in all areas – households, industry, trade – and they all pay off in the short term or long term as a result of the money saved through lower energy costs. So energy saving is doubly beneficial: energy costs are cut and environmental pollution caused by energy use is also reduced.
However, numerous obstacles are currently preventing these economic measures to protect the climate and the environment from being properly exploited. A range of different instruments are therefore needed that will, on the one hand, promote energy saving and, on the other hand, set statutory requirements.
Information on energy saving in transport can be found on our transport page.
Our constantly rising electricity consumption has cancelled out the effect of many successes in the field of climate protection. Although electricity consumption accounts for only one fifth of our total final energy consumption, it causes almost half of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in Germany – as a result of emissions from power stations. We could avoid building 30 new power stations if everyone, including industry as the largest electricity consumer, were to use all the economic possibilities for saving electricity. Read more about ways of saving electricity, whether in industry or private households, in the Federal Environment Agency’s position paper on electricity saving: lower costs, fewer power stations, less CO2 – facts and arguments for action on the part of consumers in German.
The EU Ecodesign Directive is a strong and suitable instrument to improve the energy efficiency of products. Yet, translating the considerable efficiency gains into absolute savings presents a challenge. In this publication on ecodesign of energy-using products, the Federal Environment Agency describes the directive, how it is implemented and its implications for manufacturers and consumers in an easy-to-read way.
Many electrical appliances still use electricity when you think you have switched them off. Read about how to avoid stand-by/off-mode losses.
The EU has adopted resolutions designed to improve the energy efficiency of lighting in private households: most conventional light bulbs will be gradually taken off the market (light bulb phase-out). The EU has also developed similar regulations for commercial and industrial lighting.
More information on the EU resolutions.
eating with electricity causes more greenhouse gases than necessary. In 2004, the total amount of electricity used for space heating and electric hot water systems was 14% of total electricity consumption. Every 25th home in Germany is heated by electricity. Information on reasons for replacing climate-damaging electric heating systems and on the cost-effectiveness of replacing storage heaters can be found at the Federal Environment Ministry in German.
Energy saving in the home is both kind on the wallet and makes an important contribution to climate protection because it reduces the output of the greenhouse gas CO2. The Federal Environment Agency has numerous tips and advice on how to do this:
Existing buildings harbour vast opportunities for reducing CO2 emissions. Yet, they often remain unexploited because energy-saving modernisation is carried out not often and ambitiously enough. The study Legal concepts to eliminate the bottleneck in energy-saving modernisations for existing buildings in German, summary in German and English show how the legal framework can encourage development towards more energy-efficient buildings.
The use of highly efficient circulators saves energy and CO2 and consumers money. As of 2013, inefficient circulators will disappear from the market in two stages. Regulation (EC) No 641/2009 entered into force on 22 July 2009 with its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. A press release summarises its requirements and their implications for the climate, consumers and manufacturers of circulators and heating systems. A background paper in German provides further information. Information about the exchange of pumps is available at http://www.sparpumpe.de in German.
Our construction methods, styles of living, and settlement patterns are doing more harm to the environment than is necessary. Our homes consume too much energy, more space than necessary and we are not economical with building materials. All that has to change. To find out how, read the brochure published by the Federal Environment Agency on sustainable building, sustainable homes in German.
Energy saving for climate protection and the cost savings that go with it are becoming increasingly important. However, there is often not enough money for investment in public properties. Energy-saving contracting can help out here. A guide (in German) containing sample contracts is available for download or as a hard copy:
How can a housing company increase its competitiveness and make a contribution to global climate protection at the same time? Authors from the housing industry show how this synthesis can be achieved by carefully aligning corporate strategy, management, planning and financial controlling. The examples described in the brochure on energy management in housing companies – seizing opportunities to combine climate protection and economic considerations in German illustrate how to refurbish the housing stock in a way that is also optimal in terms of energy.
The industry and commerce, trade, services sectors together consume around 70% of all electricity in Germany, and industry alone almost half (45%). Electricity consumption in that sector rose 31% between 1993 and 2005. This makes it important to utilise the electricity saving potentials that exist in these two sectors.
Electric drives in industry and commerce account for almost two-fifths of total electricity consumption in Germany and for about 80% of electricity consumption in these two sectors. Electric drives in particular, and the units powered by them, have significant electricity saving potential, which is also cost-effective, particularly e.g. in the areas of compressed air, pumps and ventilators. According to the study Options and potentials for energy end-use efficiency and energy services by the Wuppertal Institute, around 71 billion kilowatt hours of electricity could be saved by 2010 in the industry and commerce, trade, services sectors. The largest electricity efficiency potentials were identified for, in particular, use of efficient pumps (21 billion kWh), electricity-saving process heating (16 billion kWh), efficient lighting (13 billion kWh), and efficient food refrigeration systems (4 billion kWh).
The main reasons that the vast and cost-effective potentials are insufficiently utilised are a lack of information and financial constraints. Industrial and commercial enterprises use available funds primarily for investments in their core business and make high demands on the payback time of energy efficiency measures (often expecting a payback time of less than 1.5 years).
The German Federal Government and Federal States and the European Commission are already offering support to help tap the above-mentioned efficiency potentials: the Ecodesign Directive in German, funding programmes as part of the climate initiative of the German Federal Environment Ministry, the KfW Bank’s ERP Environmental and Energy Efficiency Programme, and various information campaigns. In addition, there are other possibilities for harnessing existing energy efficiency potential in the industry and commerce, trade, services sectors. One which deserves to be highlighted is the introduction of an energy management system according to e.g. DIN EN 16001 or VDI 4601/1. Such systems almost always allow cost-effective efficiency potential to be identified and utilised, particularly in industry.
More information on efficiency potentials in trade and industry:
Energy can also be saved in the office where electrical appliances, heating and sometimes air conditioning run for many hours a day. How can I identify energy wasters? How can I recognise energy-saving office appliances when shopping? And how can energy consumption for heating, air conditioning, lighting and computers be cut in office buildings? Christoph Mordziol, an energy expert at the Federal Environment Agency, answers these and other questions in an interview with German consumer magazine Magazin für Verbraucher in German.
Stand-by and off-mode losses (energy consumed by electrical appliances that have been “switched off”) should also be avoided in the office.
The brochure on energy efficiency – the intelligent source of energy published by the Federal Environment Ministry lists some starting points at which trade and industry can begin to improve their energy efficiency and save energy. The tips cover general technologies such as compressed air, electric motors and lighting, but also opportunities for improvement that are specific to particular industries.
As of 2011 only highly efficient three-phase asynchronous motors may be placed on the market. The Ecodesign Regulatory Committee has recently published these standards for electric motors in the Official Journal of the EU. It is estimated that 63 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be saved through this measure by 2020.
With their environmental innovation programme in German, the Federal Environment Agency and Federal Environment Ministry support trade and industrial businesses who wanted to significantly cut the environmental pollution they caused. The programme includes energy-saving concepts and technologies, environmentally sound energy supply and the use of renewable energies.
The economic success of a bakery is increasingly dependent on energy consumption. With the support of the Federal Environment Agency, the Schwarzmaier eco-bakery in German in Upper Bavaria was able to implement an environment-friendly and innovative energy concept in German that included a range of energy-saving measures and the use of wood pellets, a climate-friendly energy source.
You will find other examples at the Federal Environment Ministry in German.