Significant energy-saving potential identified in households of elderly people.

If elderly people can be motivated to reduce the size of their living space or implement energy renovation measures in their homes, this can contribute up to 4% of the annual reduction objectives stipulated under Energy Strategy 2050 in the area of space heating. This share should be increased by means of targeted programmes.

As part of the NRP 71 project “Energy reduction potential of elderly people’s households”, Rütter Soceco examined to what extent energy reduction potential exists and investigated the structural reasons for this. On this basis, three strategies were developed in order to release this potential: “early move to a smaller home”, “structural densification” and “energy renovation”. The acceptance and feasibility of the strategies was checked empirically using focus groups and a broad-based population survey.

The results of the concluded project module are now available: this has quantified the energetic effects of the three named strategies using model calculations. The results show that the strategies have the potential to save up to around 660 GWh of heating energy each year up to 2050. This corresponds to about 4% of the savings target stipulated under Energy Strategy 2050 in the area of space heating. Around two-thirds of this figure can be attributed to energy renovations, with a further third being triggered by early moves into smaller homes. While the effect of structural densifications is relatively small, in practice the addition of an extension or an extra storey to a single-family dwelling goes hand in hand with energy-effective renovations, which increases the impact on energy consumption.

In addition to the heating energy savings, there is also an annual saving of around 30 GWh in grey energy due to reduced construction activities. These figures show that the strategies can make a substantial contribution to the energy transition.

These calculations are based on a population survey. They reflect the currently still low level of awareness and acceptance of the energy-saving strategies among the population, especially with respect to structural densification. The project team has developed a workshop format which should encourage more elderly people to implement a densification. This has already been successfully tested with the Swiss Homeowner Assocation (Hauseigentümerverband Schweiz) and is currently being developed further and implemented as part of a project with SwissEnergy (EnergieSchweiz) together with municipalities, banks and a power utility. A 4% saving should therefore be viewed as the lower limit.