Energy Efficiency of the Housing Stock: Are potential savings overrated?
A core element of the European Climate Protection Policy is the reduction of Energy usage in private households. Legal instruments focus particularly on private multifamily housing. When refurbishing or building a new home, the German regulation for energy saving in buildings and building systems, Energieeinsparverordnung (EnEV 2009), thereby formulates relatively strict standards on energy conservation. But these standards mainly address the technical potentials of energy efficiency gains instead of considering market conditions and different types of housing, especially their age. Theory suggests that legal settings therefore retain owners to refurbish their homes, when returns on investment are negative, especially in regions where market conditions do not allow for higher rents or the costs of refurbishment are too high. The article presents evidence for these theoretical considerations: based on a large scale sample provided by the company ista Germany, it can be shown, that energy usage differs by the age of dwellings and by the standard of refurbishment. Data suggests that the assumed potentials of energy conservation, which are mainly motivated by technical considerations, are too high. The differences may be a result of different cost functions of refurbishment. Further evidence for this finding is provided by architectural considerations. As a result, the article suggests to legally distinguishing between different types of housing and to consider market conditions, when providing public funding for energy efficiency. It is suggested to implement a two multidimensional strategy, considering climate protection, urban development issues and the rationality of real estate investors.