Perspectives of citizen participation in the energy transition – Heat consulting

In the project ‘Heat Consulting’, scientists from ISOE are developing new approaches to reduce heat consumption in households. The aim is to identify low-cost and effective behavioural measures that enable low-income households to reduce their energy consumption.

Research approach

In a first step, the researchers are investigating existing communication and consulting services on the subject of heating and ventilation. The aim is thereby to identify low-cost and effective behavioural measures for the target group of low-income households. These include, for example, sensors emitting a warning tone if the temperature is not decreased when ventilating or sealing doors and windows. In addition, behavioural measures in everyday life are considered, as for instance not placing furniture in front of a radiator or set the room temperature lower. The literature study of existing communication and consulting services will be used to evaluate the impact potential and conditions for acceptance regarding the implementation of these low-investment and behavioural measures.

In a second step, a social-empirical investigation of a current pilot project of the German Caritas Association and the Federal Association of Energy and Climate Protection Agencies of Germany (Bundesverbands der Energie- und Klimaschutzagenturen Deutschlands (eaD) e.V.) is carried out. Test households receive advice on behaviour measures for heating and ventilation and are given the opportunity to implement different kinds of low-cost measures. This pilot project is intended to extend the existing Stromspar-Check Kommunal (electricity check and advice) and to also include ‘heat’ as an added key aspect in their energy-related advice for households. A goal is thus to have a nationwide extension of the Strompar-Check adding heat in their consulting and advice. The social-empirical investigation is used in order to investigate the households’ acceptance of these measures and advice, to what extent they implement these low-investment measures and the advice on behavioural measures and how useful and applicable the low-cost measures are in their opinion. The results of this study shall be incorporated into the planned nationwide introduction of heat consultation. A manual and recommendations for consultants are prepared for this purpose. The results will be further presented in a stakeholder workshop organised together with the Bundeskoordination of the Stromspar-Check (Federal Coordination of the electricity check and advice). At the same time, it is aimed at important multipliers of behaviour-oriented heating consultancy, such as housing associations, consumer centres, energy and climate protection agencies, social welfare offices or job centres.


On average, private households spend most of their energy costs on heating. This means that heating is particularly relevant to the problem of energy poverty. The actual risk for low-income households has not yet been sufficiently investigated empirically. However, it has been proven that behavioral changes in the area of ventilation, for example, or cost-effective methods such as the use of window insulation film in single-glazing can significantly reduce the consumption of heating energy. This is where the project of ‘Heat Consulting’ comes in. The researchers’ goal is to identify efficient behavioural and low-investment measures that are suitable for the target group of low-income households. The project is a sub-project of the follow-up project “Perspectives for citizen participation in the transformation of the energy system into an environmentally and socially compatible transformation of the energy system”.

Practice partners

  • German Caritas Association e.V.
  • Federal Association of German Energy and Climate Protection Agencies (eaD)


The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project Heat Consulting in the funding priority “Social-Ecological Research”.


2017/06 – 2017/12