Absolute energy demand

Development of a concept for the reduction of energy demand: Potentials, framework conditions and instruments for achieving the energy consumption objectives of the Energy Concept


Federal Environment Agency (UBA) Funded as part of the environmental research plan of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

Duration  May 2013 bis September 2015


Despite the diverse approaches to improving energy efficiency in Germany in the past years, absolute energy consumption is not decreasing to the extent that would be expected. Further measures are necessary to achieve the ambitious objectives of the Federal Government’s Energy Concept.

Project goals and results

The aim of the study was to assess realistic potentials for absolute energy savings and to quantify them where possible, taking into account rebound effects and reverse trends. The focus was on the behavioural potential of private households. The transferability to behaviour in the workplace was also examined. The assessment of these potentials was carried out from an economic and a behavioural science aspect, and suggestions for suitable instruments were developed for realising them. The term ‘behavioural potential’ was used in a broad sense in this study; it includes investment behaviour as well as usage behaviour and sufficiency. The crucial factors influencing consumption that are usually taken as a basis for scenarios were also critically examined.

Altogether, 18 measures in the household sector were considered. With regard to energy saving potential and practicability, the following points were regarded as priorities:

  • reducing living space per capita
  • reducing room temperatures
  • shifting to bicycle traffic
  • holding telemeetings and
  • reducing food waste

All measures can be supported through political instruments. However, strengthening sufficiency behaviour appears to be difficult.

The ‘organisational measures in the workplace’ especially analysed by IREES, such as usage behaviour, operational optimisation or energy management, were estimated as having a potential of almost 6 TWh, but this is difficult to unlock. Energy consultation, the creation of networks and the cooperation of government agencies with business organisations are important instruments for doing so. The analysis of measures already implemented by companies participating in energy efficiency networks and recommended by consultants formed the basis for estimating the potential.

Project partner

  • Öko-Institut


Catrice Christ
Catrice Christ