DIW Berlin calculated space heating requirements in 2016 on the basis of data supplied by the energy service provider ista Deutschland GmbH: “second rent” falls due to lower energy prices, noticeably reducing strain on household finances, but heating energy consumption increases by two per cent – investment in building efficiency all the more important

In 2016, German households spent six per cent less on heating than in the year before. These were the findings of the Heat Monitor 2016 calculated by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) on the basis of data supplied by the energy service provider ista Deutschland GmbH. The calculations are based on numerous heating bills for multi-family buildings in Germany and are climate and weather-adjusted.

However, this is the first time that the space heating savings have not come from lower consumption. In fact the heating requirements of private households rose by two per cent last year compared with the year before despite the refurbishment work so far carried out on housing stock. As, however, the prices for heating oil and gas fell by eight per cent on average, this noticeably reduced the strain on household finances overall.

 “The space heating costs of households are now only two-thirds of what they were in 2008,” says DIW economist Claus Michelsen. In apartment buildings, which account for roughly half of the housing stock, private households paid an average of ten per cent of a month’s rent for the so-called “second rent” last year; in 2008 it was still 16 per cent.

East Germans have to heat less

Heating energy was most expensive in Hamburg in 2016 at 7.81 eurocents/kilowatt hour. It was cheapest to heat in the Allgäu at 4.85 eurocents/kilowatt hour.

Roughly five per cent less energy was required in the five new German states in 2016 than in the old German states, which scientists attribute above all to the large amount of refurbishment work carried out in the early 1990s after reunification, which east German households are obviously still benefitting from. However, the differences are gradually levelling off. In 2015 energy requirements in the old German states were still 6.5 per cent higher than in the new German states.

People also used less heating energy on average in the south of Germany, in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. The main reason for this is probably the higher number of new builds.

More building refurbishment efforts

Although expenditure on space heating fell despite the fact that consumption rose, as soon as energy prices stop falling, these cost savings will evaporate. “A combination of energy-efficient buildings and optimised user behaviour can help to achieve a sustainable reduction in heating costs,” says Thomas Zinnöcker, CEO of ista. “The basis for both is transparent consumption. Here it is all about finding solutions which keep a sense of proportion and which unite the interests of investors, landlords and tenants in sustainable but affordable climate protection,” Zinnöcker continues.

According to the Paris Climate Agreement, the energy requirements (heating plus hot water) of residential buildings are to fall by 20 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050 compared with consumption in 2008. Heating energy demand in Germany has dropped by ten per cent since 2008 but to meet this target it would have to fall by another ten per cent in the four remaining years. Against this background, measures for greater energy efficiency in buildings continue to make sense. “Based on the figures presented here, we advise against any easing of policy. This is the only way we can protect private households in the long term from rising and fluctuating energy prices and meet the climate goals,” sums up DIW economist Nolan Ritter. 

A solution must also be found for the frequent conflict situation when the rent is put up a lot after extensive energy efficiency refurbishment work. “Low-cost refurbishment methods and alternative financing models such as heat contracting have to be subsidised in order to balance the different interests of investors and tenants,” DIW economist Claus Michelsen demands.

ista Deutschland GmbH offers heating services, particularly the billing of heating costs. It provides the data basis for the Heat Monitor. It is neither the owner of the relevant apartments nor does it perform energy efficiency refurbishments; therefore, in this respect there is no conflict of interest with regard to the analyses presented here. The evaluation and interpretation of the data as well as the conclusions with respect to energy and climate policy are the sole responsibility of the authors of the DIW weekly report.

Dr. Mirko-Alexander Kahre

Senior Vice President

Corporate Communications & Public Affairs

Phone: +49 (0) 201 459 3281

E-mail: Mirko-Alexander.Kahre@ista.com

Dr. Torben Pfau

Senior Manager Media Relations

Phone: +49 (0) 201 459 3725

E-mail: Torben.Pfau@ista.com