Tenants who receive monthly information on their heating consumption can reduce it by an average of 10 per cent. This is the key finding of the ‘Saving Money through Clever Heating’ pilot project – the biggest-ever nationwide field test of consumption transparency in buildings, which has been carried out by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur – the German Energy Agency (dena) – in partnership with the energy service provider ista, the German Tenants’ Association and the Federal Ministry of Construction. The final report was submitted to Undersecretary Jochen Flasbarth of the Federal Ministry of Construction on 21 February in Berlin.
In the pilot project dena, along with its partners, assessed the heating consumption of around 1,000 tenant households from Essen, Munich and Berlin over several years. Additionally, around 200 households received regular information about their heat consumption via web portal, app or post.
“Even seemingly minor steps can make an important contribution towards the success of the energy transition and achieving our climate protection targets,” said Undersecretary Flasbarth as the report was handed over. “At the same time, the project shows us that climate-friendly behaviour is a learning process, whose twin foundations are increased knowledge and transparency about consumption.”
“The consumption information has an effect for most tenants,” says dena’s Managing Director, Andreas Kuhlmann. “In this way, it can provide an important basis for tenants to keep consumption and costs under control.”
The whole building benefits from consumption information
- A glance at the tenant households assessed shows that monthly information on consumption helps tenants to save on heating. The majority of savings are achieved in the first year of use and for the most part are sustained thereafter. Accordingly, around 90 per cent of the tenants recommended using the consumption information.
- It’s not just the 200 or so tenants who received consumption information via web portal, app or post who benefit, but also the apartment building residents as a whole: heating consumption in the pilot project buildings fell by an average of 8 per cent. This is because the neighbours of those tenants taking part also benefited indirectly from the information thanks to increased communication between residents in the tenement buildings and the sensitisation of all tenants during the project. This contrasts with a fall in consumption of only 2 per cent in the German apartment buildings outside the pilot project area.
- The figures for consumption over time range from two-figure savings to increases in consumption in the apartment buildings surveyed. Not every tenant, therefore, was able to achieve savings. Technical causes for this development could be ruled out. There is a need here for further research, in order to learn more about why these differences occur and what additional influences there are on consumption behaviours. In the course of the tenant surveys it emerged that socio-economic factors such as age or income could play an important role in this respect.
Cost efficiency of consumption information
For tenant households fitted with wireless technology and using the web portal, the monthly consumption information pays for itself from annual heating savings of three per cent upwards, if current energy prices and average annual costs of 20 euros per household, as estimated by ista, are taken as a basis. If tenants reduce their heating costs further, there is a gain for the household purse in the lower two-figure region. If they have to first convert to wireless technology, tenants must save between five and six per cent on consumption. In the pilot project – in which the tenants received the information for free – most of them could achieve savings of more than 3 per cent.
Data protection in practice
During exchanges with the tenants, no concerns about data protection rights could be identified. However there is still optimisation potential for simplifying the use of consumption information, for example because a written data protection agreement must be concluded individually with each tenant. It is important here to find more practicable solutions in dialogue with the housing industry and German Tenants’ Association, which at the same time guarantee the tenants’ authority over their data.
Press statements by the project partners, a management summary and the full-length final report, as well as further information on the pilot project, are available at www.bewusst-heizen.de/presse.
Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena), German Energy Agency, Christian Müller, Chausseestrasse 128 a, 10115 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)30 72 61 65 774; fax: +49 (0)30 72 61 65 699; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.dena.de