02 Jul 2020, 13:01
Kerstine Appunn

Rebound effect undoing decade of Germany's home efficiency investments - housing companies

Clean Energy Wire / Welt Online / Handelsblatt

German housing companies have invested over 340 billion euros in energy modernisation since 2010 but household energy consumption is stagnating regardless, the Federal Association of German Housing and Propterty Companies (GdW) said in its annual report. GdW president Axel Gedaschko said the rebound effect was mainly to blame for the stagnation in heat consumption: as houses and flats were now better insulated, tenants tended to use the money they were saving on having it even warmer in their living rooms. In addition, costs for oil and gas had fallen considerably since 2013, meaning there wasn’t much incentive to save heating energy at home, he said according to Welt Online. The GdW which manages around 30 percent of all rental apartments in Germany, called for more use of renewable energy sources and decentralised low-CO2 technologies in housing, instead of ever more expensive energy efficiency and insulation refurbishments.

Meanwhile, Handelsblatt’s Klaus Stratmann reports that the federal German government is “sleeping through” the energy refurbishment of public buildings. An unpublished report by Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors (Bundesrechnungshof), seen by Handelsblatt, states that practical implementation of the announced insulation programmes are lagging behind. “It is foreseeable that the energy targets of the federal government for federal buildings will not be met”, the auditors say.

Germany's more-than 40 million homes emit over nine percent of total emissions – most of which by far arise through the heating of rooms and water. The government is working to extend the energy transition to buildings with a ban on new oil-fired heating and tax incentives for renovations and low-emission technologies. It aims to have a 'nearly' climate neutral building stock by 2050 after emissions in the sector have stagnated for almost a decade.

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