Communal energy-savings check: Fighting climate change and energy poverty successfully

The power savings check (‘Stromspar-Check’) has been on offer in NRW since 2008. This joint action of the German Caritas Association and the Federal Association of Energy and Climate Protection Agencies in Germany supports low-income households by providing them with free power savings consultations. The special nature of the check: the consultations are carried out by the former long-term unemployed.

When the power savings helpers arrive in the households, not only do they check the energy consumption, they also come with tips for saving electricity at hand on their first visit. Room by room, they check where the use of items that reduce energy and water consumption would make sense. On a second visit, the power savings helpers bring the corresponding immediate interventions such as LED light bulbs, socket boards with switches, TV standby cut-off switches, timers and flow regulators for taps, and help install these devices. The average value of the items is around 70 euro. During an optional third visit around one year later, the consultants take stock and evaluate the success of the measures. Based on the bills, they determine the current energy consumption and calculate the savings compared to the previous year. This follow-up visit often highlights further savings possibilities. In many places, municipalities, job centres, energy suppliers and apartment construction companies support the energy savings check.

Engine for progress:

  • Over 150,000 tonnes of reduced CO2 emissions in NRW alone
  • All measures make economic sense
  • Ideal offering for low-income households
  • Fighting energy poverty
  • Considerable potential as yet untapped

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Photo: SSC PLUS 2014

The power savings check is a personalised consultation on energy savings in the recipient’s own home.

Power-guzzling fridges

A further successful instrument of the energy savings check is the “fridge swap”. If the participants decide to switch their at least ten-year-old appliance for an A+++ class energy-saving model, they receive a grant of 150 euro, on the condition that the new appliance saves at least 200 kilowatt-hours per year. In NRW, the “fridge swap” is additionally sponsored with an extra 50 euro per head of household.

Düsseldorf pioneer

The energy savings check was developed and tested in Frankfurt in 2006 and transferred to Düsseldorf as the first location in NRW just two years later – as a joint project of Caritas and the city as part of Düsseldorf's 30-point climate protection programme. By introducing the “fridge swap”, the Düsseldorf location carried out nationally pioneering work and provided intensive support for the establishment of other locations during the initial stages.

Special relevance and successes in NRW: 200,000-tonnes of CO2 mark soon to be reached

The power savings check is offered at 40 locations in NRW, which serve over 200 towns and municipalities in total. About 90,000 households in NRW had received consultations by the beginning of 2017; CO2 emissions are currently being reduced by over 150,000 tonnes thanks to the programme. Since the power savings check not only gives people a clear conscience but is also noticeable in their purses, the success of the consultations is set to last over the long term. Thus, the associated climate protection performance in the next three years may amount to reduced CO2 emissions of up to 200,000 tonnes.

Photo: Philipp Tacer

“With a three-fold impact, the power savings check operates as a win-win-win principle. It relieves basic income households of the pressure of high energy costs and offers the long-term unemployed a meaningful occupation while protecting the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.”

Phillip Tacer, Chairman of Düsseldorf Environmental Committee

Partners and sponsors

  • Deutscher Caritsverband e.V.
  • Bundesverband der Energie- und Klimaschutzagenturen
  • Caritas in NRW
  • prisma consult GmbH
  • Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BmUB)

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