Energy-efficient construction and renovations
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Energy-efficient construction and renovations

A self-sufficient home can protect you from rising energy prices: By building or renovating your home to be energy efficient, you can rely mostly on natural energy sources. Read how to make your home energy efficient or self-sufficient and what details to keep in mind.

Is energy-efficient construction worthwhile?

Energy prices have risen and are expected to remain high. By making your own home energy efficient, you reduce your costs for power and heat, which largely protects you from these price increases. As a rule, the investment pays for itself in just a few years. While the utility costs for your home drop significantly, you must remember that energy-efficient equipment does require some maintenance costs.

Energy-efficient vs. self-sufficient homes: How do they differ?

An energy-efficient building uses less energy. This includes low-energy buildings with heating energy requirements of 50 kWh/m2 and passive buildings with a maximum heating energy requirement of 15 kWh/m2.

By definition, a self-sufficient building requires no external heat or power supply, which makes energy prices completely irrelevant. These types of buildings rely on photovoltaic systems (i.e. solar power), roof-mounted wind turbines, heat pumps, and solar battery storage. They also need excellent insulation and a ventilation system with heat recovery. This allows the maximum amount of energy to be generated and stored until it is needed in the winter.

Thus far, however, a 100% self-sufficient home is rare. There are many reasons for this: The size of the batteries needed to store power in the basement poses a challenge. Furthermore, providing sufficient space for the necessary number of solar modules is difficult – especially in urban areas. Power is also used at night even though no new power can be generated from sunlight.

However, homes can realistically achieve 70–80% self-sufficiency. What's more, staying on the grid has its advantages. For instance, if you need to heat the bathroom quickly before a shower, electric heating is a welcome feature. And if the photovoltaic system is out of order, you won't have to sit in the dark until a qualified repair person arrives.

Build or renovate to save energy. Other advantages.

  1. The Earth will thank you: By using natural energy sources, you can avoid carbon emissions and protect the environment.
  2. Your home will gain value: An energy-efficient property that is built or renovated to meet the latest standards has a higher market value.

Energy-efficient construction and renovations. What areas of the house are involved?

Insufficient insulation, for instance, can waste energy. This affects windows, doors, facades, the basement, and the attic. You should also consider the heating carefully. Renovations here can mean huge energy savings.

A modern, efficient ventilation system will also cut heating costs, as it mostly replaces manual ventilation and therefore reduces heat loss. It also prevents mold, as the room temperature stays within a controlled and constant range.

Where to start with an energy-saving construction project

To determine the required construction activities, as a rule you will need to obtain an expert report for the cantonal energy certificate for buildings (CECB). The property classification system ranges from A (highly efficient) to G (poor). The CECB Plus report includes specific options to enhance energy efficiency. Subsidies for CECB Plus are available in most cantons.

The amount of energy savings can differ by technology and construction type. For this reason, you should compare a number of designs and consult an expert. If you are planning a renovation project, an architect or civil engineer is a good place to start. If the building systems are ready for an upgrade, then an electrical engineer can help. A list of experts in your region is available here.

Please note that energy-saving systems must be reported to your municipality and there are legal restrictions on which renovation measures can be performed on historic buildings.

How can you finance an energy-efficient construction project?

The government offers many subsidies, including a repayment subsidy or tax deductions. New builds and renovations are eligible for these. The installation of CO2-free heating systems is also eligible for financial support, although the specific benefits and requirements vary by canton and municipality. Many places require the CECB Plus report. For more information, click here.

To fund energy-efficient renovations, you can either increase your mortgage or withdraw pension capital from your Pillar 3a account, just as you might for normal renovations. Pension fund assets can also be used to renovate a property. The experts at Credit Suisse are on hand to assist you with planning your energy-efficient home.