Energy is a precious commodity these days. This can be seen in the continuously rising global demand for energy and the year-on-year increase in prices for heating energy and electricity. Saving energy is therefore the general credo. But what does saving energy actually mean in concrete terms?? And why is energy saving so important?
Studies have shown that global energy consumption has almost doubled in the last 40 years. Reasons can be found on the one hand in the increase in technical devices that we all use in everyday life, increased mobility, a higher standard of living as well as more living space with fewer people per household at the same time. The latter reason also explains why buildings alone account for 40 percent of total energy consumption in Europe. Buildings have to be heated, no matter how big, no matter how many people live in them. But the good news is that where a lot of energy is consumed, a lot of energy can also be saved. And there are three very good reasons for this.
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Reason 1: Climate protection
Climate change is underway and will be difficult to stop. In order to stop climate change and its consequences for nature, the environment and people, greenhouse gas emissions, above all carbon dioxide (CO2), would have to be drastically reduced.
This is the goal of the German government’s climate package: CO2 emissions are to be reduced by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.
In order for this ambitious project to succeed, energy must be saved. Because the production of energy generates CO2. That is why saving energy is currently the most effective method for climate protection.
There are several reasons for this: A large proportion of the energy consumed in Germany still comes from fossil resources such as oil, coal and gas. These must be incinerated to produce usable energy.
But: burning fossil fuels produces CO2, one of the most climate-damaging gases, which intensifies the greenhouse effect. In addition, fossil resources are finite and their extraction is complex and expensive. Each kilowatt hour of energy from fossil carriers thus harms the environment through CO2 emissions and reduces the natural occurrences that will eventually be exhausted.
Climate protection through energy saving starts in your own home: In Germany, the production of heating and hot water alone produces around 120 million tons of CO2. This corresponds to 14 percent of total greenhouse emissions in Germany. And this amount of CO2 could be reduced by up to 60 percent through thermal insulation, modern windows, conscious energy use and energy-saving electrical appliances – with means and technologies that are already available today.
That is why there is so much potential for energy savings in the real estate sector. With suitable measures, the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of a house can be significantly reduced.
Above all, the use of renewable energies from the sun, wind, hydropower or wood is part of this. Because their energy is regenerative and is produced completely emission-free, thus no harmful climatic gases are set free with the power production.
Reason 2: Saving costs
Since energy is expensive, every kilowatt hour saved saves money. Saving energy therefore affects everyone. And everyone can save energy – through their own behavior as well as energy-efficient renovation and modernization measures, which contribute significantly to saving energy. The annually increasing costs for energy are also added.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, utility costs in housing have increased significantly since 2001: For houses and apartments heated with district heating, costs rose by almost 38 percent. The cost of gas rose by around 34 percent, that of heating oil by 30.4 percent and that of electricity by "only" 23.7 percent, an increase of almost a quarter – and the trend is upwards. Tenants and owners therefore already have to pay significantly more for heating, electricity and hot water than they did 20 years ago. And with energy demand continuing to rise, there is no relief in sight.
In order to save costs, the conscious use of energy is therefore crucial. Saving energy consists primarily of Two factors together:
Generating energy as cost-effectively and climate-friendly as possible
Making the most efficient use of available energy
With a view to the future, it is advisable to invest in renewable energies in the form of an energy-efficient heating system, if possible based on or in combination with regenerative sources. The efficient use of energy in buildings also stands and falls with the energy condition and the tightness of the house. As before, too much energy is simply wasted by producing expensive heating energy and then not using it because it simply fizzles out due to a leaky building envelope. With insulation, heating based on renewable energies and modern windows, however, a large part of the energy can be used in a targeted manner, whereas it would otherwise simply be lost through uninsulated masonry, outdated windows and an uninsulated roof.
If a building is equipped to save energy, the available energy can be used efficiently and almost without loss. This means that less energy has to be produced, which in turn saves costs directly.
Reason 3: CO2 tax
Another reason to save energy is the CO2 tax that will come into force in 2021. It taxes fossil fuels such as heating oil, gasoline, diesel and natural gas, making climate-damaging measures increasingly unattractive. At present, every German citizen produces a total of around 11 tons of CO2 a year through heating and hot water, but also through electricity consumption and mobility, to name just a few factors. In order to prevent global warming from exceeding 2 degrees, each person on earth would have to produce a maximum of 2 tons of CO2 per year. Seen in this light, Germany is a long way from achieving this goal, which is why the CO2 tax is only part of the climate package. For homeowners with a heating system based on fossil fuels such as oil or gas, however, the CO2 tax can be quite expensive.
For example, an average gas heating system produces around 5 tons of CO2 per year. From 2021, the CO2 tax will initially cost 25 euros per ton of CO2, which means a levy of 125 euros a year. The CO2 tax will gradually increase until 2025, so that in 2025 55 euros per ton of CO2 will be due per year. In this example, this would mean additional costs of 275 euros per year for heating systems that are operated with oil or gas. Saving energy becomes a real cost issue in these cases. Although energy savings can be achieved through more conscious heating behavior, energy savings only become truly effective with modernization or renovation of the building. The heating system is particularly important here, as well as other measures that improve the energy efficiency of the house, such as insulation or window replacement.
Saving energy in concrete terms: What can be done??
Anyone who has recognized the importance of saving energy for the environment and their own wallet can save a lot of energy with just a few measures. What may only amount to a few cents in the short term can add up to several hundred euros over the course of a year – and reduce CO2 production for the sake of the climate.
Outdated electrical appliances are real power guzzlers. It makes sense to replace them in the medium term with new, energy-efficient models.
Always fill the washing machine, use the dryer only when necessary and also fully filled.
Replace incandescent lamps with LED lamps. LEDs consume only one fifth of the energy required by incandescent lamps
Do not leave technical devices such as televisions or computers in standby mode, but switch them off completely. Even in standby mode, appliances consume electricity.
Switch on light only where it is needed.
Saving heating energy
Heating according to demand. That is, only heat where you actually are and turn heaters to the lowest setting at night or when you are away.
Close interior doors and heat each room individually instead of "heating" adjacent rooms as well
Proper ventilation: Only those who ventilate properly can heat efficiently. Regular ventilation provides much more than just fresh air. A well-balanced room climate increases living comfort, saves heating energy and is necessary to prevent mold. In addition, fresh air heats up better than stale air. Depending on the room function, season, structural conditions and use of the rooms must be ventilated differently to achieve an indoor climate in which the temperature and humidity are in a balanced relationship.
Our 10 tips for proper ventilation
Close roller shutters at night. These act like an additional layer of insulation.
Use hot water only when needed.
Install energy-saving showerhead. By adding tiny air bubbles, this saves many times more hot water – without sacrificing comfort.
With an awareness of energy saving and these few measures, a lot of energy can already be saved. However, even greater savings can be made on and in buildings, above all through renovation and modernization measures that specifically improve the energy efficiency of a house.
Saving energy with renovation and modernization
Buildings are among the largest energy consumers and produce a correspondingly large amount of CO2. However, this is mainly due to outdated technology and lack of modernization. Because the possibilities for energy saving up to energy independence are already given today. In principle, a passive house no longer generates heating costs. With effective insulation and maximum energy efficiency, so little energy is needed that it can be completely covered by renewable sources.
Modernization and renovation measures
Modernization and refurbishment measures to contribute to significant energy savings.
Of course, it is not easy to bring a decades-old building up to Passive House standard. But regardless of the age and condition of a house, individual modernization and refurbishment measures can also lead to significant energy savings. Most homeowners modernize their property continuously over the years, so that measures such as roof replacement, window replacement or facade painting do not occur all at once. But renovating a house is a complex and costly undertaking. This raises the big question of where to start for many people.
One of the most effective energy-saving measures is the insulation of the outer shell. This includes insulating the facade and roof. While both are quite costly undertakings, they significantly increase a home’s energy efficiency. The building envelope also includes windows and doors. A considerable amount of the heat generated is lost, especially through outdated windows. Old windows with single glazing and frame structures that are not thermally insulated are among the biggest heat leaks on the house. Window replacement, replacing outdated windows with modern heat-insulating windows, is a very effective means of saving energy – and far less complicated and costly than exterior insulation. Modern windows such as the thermally insulating vinyl windows from HEIM& HOUSE provide significant energy savings compared to outdated windows due to double or triple insulating glazing, 5-chamber profiles and the latest glazing technology. Increased burglar-proofing, draught-proofing and improved soundproofing are all quite pleasant side-effects.