When it comes to protecting the climate, property owners also play an important role. Because anyone who buys or renovates a house has the opportunity to make a significant contribution to a better climate. More than 30 percent of CO₂ emissions in Germany are caused by the operation of buildings because people live and work there who heat and consume energy. If it is not possible to achieve significant savings here, it will be very difficult to achieve the goals set by politicians for protecting the climate.
Currently, only around one percent of the existing apartments are being refurbished nationwide each year. That is very little. The state supports the energetic improvement of a house either with loans, grants or a tax bonus. In principle, the following applies: the better the energy balance of the property after the renovation, the more abundant the subsidy. In order to get as much money as possible from the public purse, the building to be renovated must become a so-called efficiency house.
What is an efficiency house?
An efficiency house is an energetic standard for residential buildings. It was introduced by the state development bank KfW. Two things are decisive here: On the one hand, the amount of heat loss through the building envelope. On the other hand, there is the energy requirement for heating, ventilation and hot water preparation.
What do the efficiency house levels mean?
There are five efficiency house levels: 40, 55, 70, 85 and 100. The smaller the key figure, the lower the energy requirement of the property in relation to a standard house defined by the Building Energy Act (GEG). An example: The KfW Efficiency House 70 requires 30 percent less energy per year than the reference house. It does not necessarily have to be a new building. Existing buildings can also be converted into low-energy houses with suitable measures. The highest standard that can be achieved is the efficiency house 55. In a new building, the maximum is efficiency class 40.
How can an existing building be converted into an efficiency house 70?
Support from an energy expert is required here. With their help, it is possible to determine what is necessary to achieve the desired standard. For example, building insulation, the installation of modern windows and doors or the use of an efficient heating system, for example in the form of a combination of gas heating with solar thermal energy or a heat pump. According to experts, the requirements can usually be met even with wood heating. In principle, the federal subsidy for energy-efficient buildings (BEG) supports all energy-related measures that lead to an efficiency house level. Important: In order to benefit from funding, the relevant applications must be submitted before the renovation work begins. In addition, it is imperative that energy efficiency specialists be consulted. Help with the search is provided by: www.energie-effizienz-experten.de. The costs for specialist planning and construction supervision are subsidized with up to 50 percent.
Are there any other funding programs than the BEG?
With the start of federal funding for energy-efficient buildings (BEG) in mid-2021, the federal government wanted to reduce the complexity of the funding landscape and thus the bureaucratic effort. With BEG, a single funding program replaces four previous funding programs. Thus, one application is sufficient to be able to use all funding offers. For individual measures, there may be additional funding from programs run by the federal states or local authorities. The consumer advice centers recommend searching through subsidy databases for this purpose. A good overview is, for example, the “Förder.Navi” the Energy Agency NRW. It enables a selection based on the funding topic, type of funding and funding agency.
What kind of funding is there?
As part of the BEG, homeowners can receive low-interest loans or grants. KfW grants the loans through a bank, savings bank or insurance company. However, the search for such a brokerage partner is not always easy, as Stiftung Warentest has found out. Accordingly, loan seekers often receive a rejection for amounts below 50,000 euros. Or the financial institutions only grant promotional loans in combination with an in-house loan. They are free to do so, because they are not obliged to grant the loans (for which they assume the liability risk).
How high is the funding for an efficiency house 70?
KfW grants a low-interest loan of up to 120,000 euros per residential unit for an efficiency house 70. According to KfW, the exact conditions are “based on the development of the capital market and are set on the day of the commitment”. If the property also fulfills the criteria for a renewable energy class (EE class, the prerequisite for this is that renewable energies provide at least 55 percent of the heating / cooling generation of the energy requirement) it is even a maximum of 150,000 euros.
The special feature is the repayment subsidy amounting to 35 percent of the loan amount. If the EE class is reached, there is an additional repayment bonus of five percent. Another five percent “iSFP bonus” is added if the construction work follows the “individual renovation schedule” of an energy consultant. In the best-case scenario, those wishing to renovate only have to repay 55 percent of the KfW loan. As an alternative to the loan, house renovators can receive a direct grant of up to 75,000 euros per residential unit.
Tax incentives instead of loans and grants?
If the property to be renovated is more than ten years old and the owner lives in it himself, he can also use a tax bonus instead of promotional loans or grants. For this he must submit a corresponding application to the tax office after the work carried out by a specialist company has been completed. This then deducts – spread over three years – up to 20 percent of the expenses for energy-efficient refurbishment from the tax liability, but no more than 40,000 euros per residential unit. The prerequisite is that the renovator has not already used other tax advantages or received public funding for the corresponding measures. The Stiftung Warentest advises for major renovations to tap into the state funding. If, on the other hand, you only want to carry out individual measures (such as replacing the windows), tax subsidies can be an uncomplicated alternative, say the product testers.
Is funding also given to those who are not aiming for an efficiency house level with a renovation?
Yes, the BEG also supports individual renovation measures including ancillary construction costs, such as thermal insulation, the renewal of windows and doors or the renewal / optimization of the heating system. Here the maximum loan amount is 60,000 euros. A repayment subsidy of up to 12,000 euros is possible. The prerequisite is that the building application for the residential building was submitted at least five years ago at the time of the application.