43.3 Bridging the gap between economic and ecologic efficiency by individual energy consultancy

Martin Steinestel , Energy Department, Verbraucherzentrale NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany
Helmfried Meinel , Energy Department, Verbraucherzentrale NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany
Udo Sieverding , Energy Department, Verbraucherzentrale NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany
Petra Maier , Energy Department, Verbraucherzentrale NRW, Düsseldorf, Germany
Full Papers
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  • Objectives:

    The project of individual energy consultancy was designed to bridge the gap between climate protection and  strengthening the regional economy.

    The consultancy for private owners of flats and residential buildings was designed to increase the individual motivation of private households to invest in energetic modernization and to provide them with necessary technical information.

    The measures recommended during a consultancy help to save energy on a long-term basis and improve the quality of buildings. The reduction of heating energy consumption and the improvement of thermal insulation contributes to decrease the private households´ share in the greenhouse effect. House owners employ local and regional craftsmen to carry out the energetic upgrading. For more comprehensive projects - such as carrying out combinations of several measures - the house owners also assign architects and planners. This shows that private modernization of buildings is a sustainable investment in climate protection and strengthening the regional economy.

    Frame conditions

    Verbraucherzentrale NRW has carried out this project of neutral energy consultancy in the "Ruhr-area", a region with about five million inhabitants which is characterised by a strong structural change and an unemployment rate higher than average. The project was funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Union structural funds.

    Verbraucherzentrale NRW as a non governmental organisation advises, supports and protects consumers throughout the state in all consumer related topics. As with all other topics also its energy consultancy is neutral and independent of any economic interest.  The organization advises individually and from a holistic perspective by suggesting economic and ecological balanced measures.

    A high quality level is ensured by the fact that the energy consultants are well trained architects and engineers.

    The public funding of the project is part of the regional development policy of the Ruhr-area related to the aim of energetic modernisation of its buildings. Many private buildings up to 8-12 accommodation units are in need of refurbishment and property owners face the problem of people leaving the region for good.

    The energy-region North Rhine-Westphalia is trying to find a way from coal and other fossil fuels towards new and efficient energy technologies. The private consumers shall also be motivated to use efficient heating systems, improve thermal insulation, install renewable energies and to change their behaviour concerning heating and energy consumption.

    Private households profit by reducing their energy costs, improving the quality of buildings and  living comfort as well as climate protection measures, and a reduction in  consuming fossil energy. The consultancy offer is designed to be an initial advise to help consumers create optimal plans for refurbishment measures. It opens doors for local craftsmen, architects and planners. The advise seeking consumers have been charged a small fee. and contribute in this way to finance the project.

    Many private buildings are underdeveloped concerning the energetic and the constructional quality. So it was important to find the right moment and bring together individual plans of measures with an optimized energy saving concept. The results of consultation were motivated house owners - ready to start and knowing the right order of carrying out the appropriate measures.

    More than three thousand households have been consulted in 3.5 years. The consultants visited the houses, so they had a real impression of the state of the art.

    The result of evaluation by interviews of those consumers who had already been advised should give information about the needs of consumers and the success of the consultancies and the energetic modernization already carried out, induced or accompanied by the consultancies. Energetic and climatic values and the benefit to the regional regional economy by private investments should be determined.


    More than 50% percent of all advised house owners have energetically upgraded their homes according to the recommendations of the energy consultancy. For more than 30 percent of all upgrades the consultancy was the only or the predominant factor for the decision of the owners to refurbish their building. The estimated economic effects are 18 times the invested project costs.

    70 percent changed their behaviour in using energy. Many realized an improvement in their problems with humidity and mould. The evaluation shows influences to a third party of the consulted households and a positive effect concerning the relation between proprietors and tenants.

    An energy-saving of 75.000 MWh / year and a reduction 23,3 Kilotons of CO2 / year have been realised.

    The upgrading measures were mainly financed by the consumers own resources. Many of the investments were supporting the local and the regional skilled crafts and building materials suppliers and often architects and engineers were contacted. Therefore a neutral consultancy is able to support the skilled crafts and promotes employment.

    Furthermore it could be shown that the consumers were highly satisfied with the quality of the neutral consultancy.

    Therefore the regional offer to a neutral consultancy concerning energetic measures at private buildings is able to bridge the gap between economic and ecological efficiency and to contribute promoting local employment.