Press Release from 2020-12-10 / Group

One in five households uses a smart energy control system

  • The number of people using smart home applications to manage energy has nearly doubled since 2018
  • Smart management of heating most common
  • The greatest take-up has been among younger households and those with higher incomes

Digitalisation is progressing in German homes, too. Smart home applications offer an opportunity to improve energy efficiency while also making homes more comfortable. A special evaluation by the KfW Energy Transition Barometer 2020 shows that one in five households in Germany now uses a smart energy management system. That is equivalent to an increase of over 75% in the number of users since 2018. When it comes to heat, the number of households using smart home applications has more than doubled in the past two years.

Smart management systems are most commonly used for heat (12%), with light (8%) and energy (6%) used slightly less often. The focus on applications for heating is positive for ensuring the energy transition’s success. They are a particularly good way to save energy and therefore greenhouse gas emissions, too.

“In future, living needs to be both comfortable and energy efficient. If we can further increase the energy efficiency of homes through clever use of digital applications, we are taking an important step towards making housing carbon-neutral,” says Dr Fritzi Köhler-Geib, Chief Economist at KfW Group.

To achieve this, however, we will need to resolve some of the reservations that people have about the technology; around 45% of households that are not yet using a smart home device for their energy cannot imagine themselves doing so. Concerns about data protection often play a role here, and the cost is a barrier as well. Smart management devices are least popular among older households where the residents are aged over 71 (59%) and among low-income households (53%). This suggests that it will be important to examine the topic in even more detail going forward and to illuminate the potential savings, as well as taking targeted steps to remove the cost barriers.

“To make the energy transition a success, every household has to play its part. As well as introducing high standards for data protection, greater transparency around the efficiency benefits is key to getting a wider cross-section of the population engaged with smart technology and achieving additional energy efficiency gains, especially in relation to heating,” states Köhler-Geib.

You can view the latest analysis from KfW Research on the topic of smart homes at:

On the KfW Energy Transition Barometer:

The KfW Energy Transition Barometer is based on an annual survey on energy transition among some 4,000 households in Germany. The study provides insights into households’ attitudes towards energy transition, as well as the equipment they are using and any intentions to purchase energy transition technologies, plus their motivation to use these and any obstacles to making a purchase. The survey is conducted by the infas Institute for Applied Social Sciences on behalf of KfW Research.

Details can be found at (German only)


Portrait Christine Volk