Saving isn’t an appealing subject for politicians – and the same applies to energy conservation. For years, experts have noted with concern that while a lot of money goes to building wind farms and solar plants, when it comes to promoting energy savings, policymakers’ efforts are mostly limited to providing low interest-rate KfW Bank loans to make buildings more energy-efficient.
But the tools for energy conservation are already available. They are listed in the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Directive, which the German government is struggling to implement. The key provisions of the directive were supposed to have been translated into national legislation in June. But even the previous administration in Berlin treated the subject gingerly, and the current government has also shown little evidence of progress.
Article 7 of the directive, which requires energy suppliers and producers to reduce the amount of energy they deliver to consumers by 1.5 percent a year, has been and remains especially controversial. But what some economic sectors criticize as a classic feature of a command economy other players see as a great opportunity. They want to turn the conservation requirement into a business by helping suppliers reach their reduction targets.
For instance Ista, an energy metering company, aims to increase transparency for tenants and landlords. It argues that consumers who at the very least receive a monthly statement, via email or an app, about their heating use will act accordingly.
“The monthly consumption information is provided without any government funding,” says Ista CEO Walter Schmidt. His company estimates the additional costs of billing at one to two euros a month will generate annual savings of €100 ($134).