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The KfW Efficiency House standards: KfW 85, 55, 40 (EE), (NH) and Plus

KfW 85, 70, 55, 40 (EE), 40 (NH) and 40 Plus describe the different energy efficiency classes of a building and the associated funding options. Since the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV) was passed, one thing has already been decided before the house is built: the new building will be a low-energy house. Because the minimum requirements for the lowest possible energy consumption are already stipulated in building law. The aim is to further reduce CO 2 emissions and the consumption of our energy resources. If you want to make your house even more energy-efficient than the minimum standard, you will find information on the respective KfW standards, their costs, price differences and funding opportunities in this article.

Save energy with a KfW efficiency house

The Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV for short), which is part of the building code, sets specific benchmarks that new buildings must meet. The German Reconstruction Loan Corporation (KfW) provides financial support to builders in fulfilling the energy-saving measures. The KfW awards the grants according to different levels. A new building that actually consumes 100% of the energy that it is allowed to use according to the EnEV is classified as a KfW Efficiency House 100. A KfW Efficiency House 85 consumes 85% of the energy, a KfW Efficiency House 55 only 55%, and so on.

In order to make the decision for an energy-efficient house that exceeds the minimum standard more palatable for builders, the federal government supports corresponding building projects with the programs of the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), the federal development bank. The amount of government funding depends on the KfW class that the new building complies with. The more energy they save, the higher the financial subsidy from KfW. Important: Anyone applying for funding for a new building must be guided by the 2022 stricter requirements for funding. Thus, subsidies for new construction are now only possible for the energy efficiency house standard 40 sustainability class. Furthermore, there are funding opportunities for the classes above this up to KfW 85 in the case of the renovation of existing properties.

Criteria for the respective KfW standard

The energy consumption of a building can be reduced by various structural measures. These include, for example, appropriately good insulation of the facade, the roof, the basement and floor ceilings, multiple glazing of the windows, the installation of ventilation systems with heat recovery, a sustainable and efficient heating system (without the use of fossil fuels) and solar thermal systems for hot water preparation or photovoltaic Modules for power generation.

However, the measures with which the corresponding KfW efficiency class can be achieved is always the subject of individual planning, as other factors also play a role here. The choice of building material and the structure of the outer wall, the solar radiation on the house and its shading by other buildings or trees as well as the cubature of the building – ie its floor plan – have a decisive influence on the energy consumption.

A clear statement as to which structural measures are required for the respective KfW efficiency house is therefore not very easy and cannot be made without an individual consideration of the circumstances of the new building, the property and the environment. Only the requirements for the KfW 40 Plus house are fixed, as this is an improved version of the KfW 40 standard. The additional “Plus Package” includes the following features:

  • a power generation facility based on renewable energy
  • an electricity storage system in the form of a battery storage system
  • a ventilation system with heat recovery
  • a user interface that records and visualizes power generation and consumption

Therefore, energetically competent planning and construction supervision is essential, especially if funding from the KfW is to be sought. The standards should be calculated by experts who are familiar with the technical dimensions and minimum requirements and who work closely with the client and the architect or construction company.

The funding opportunities of KfW

Building an energy-efficient home is not only good for the environment, it’s also good for your wallet. In order to reduce the energy costs of your house in the long term, however, you must first invest in energy-saving measures.

However, the KfW subsidizes the higher investment costs with corresponding loans. The simple formula applies: the more efficient your house, the more money you get back. Recently, only KfW 40 sustainability class and KfW 40 Plus houses are subsidized. Funding for a KfW Efficiency House 70 has no longer been available since April 2016, and funding for the KfW 55 Energy Efficiency House will also no longer be available from spring 2022.

However, for efficiency houses sustainability class 40, you can take out a loan from KfW in the amount of €100,000 per residential unit and receive a repayment subsidy of 5% to 15%, depending on how energy-efficient your house is.


KfW efficiency house

Repayment grant for the KfW loan (€100,000)
KfW 40€10,000 (10%)
KfW 40Plus€15,000 (15%)

The agony of choice

Which energy standard is right for you? This question is not easy to answer, since the development of energy prices and interest rates as well as legal regulations relating to climate protection can only be anticipated to a limited extent. In general, the decision for a KfW energy efficiency class must be weighed up for each individual case based on the relationship between investment costs, long-term potential for saving energy and energy costs, and one’s own environmental awareness.

From many years of experience, we can say that with an energy-efficient house, you reduce the additional costs for electricity and heating to a not inconsiderable extent, which protects resources and the environment. In addition, you are less dependent on price developments on the energy market and can increase the value of your house.

However, we also know that the investment costs for energy-efficient measures are relatively high, which can be offset in part by a KfW subsidy, but due to the low interest rate policy of the European Central Bank, the interest on a KfW loan is now not necessarily cheaper than that of other banks.

General statements with regard to the energy efficiency classes of new buildings and the associated funding opportunities are therefore not very easy and must be examined individually for each house and each builder.

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