New energy saving regulations have been in effect since September 1st. This means that there are a few things to consider when turning down the heating in the apartment.
Saving energy is the order of the day – because of the Putin gas crisis and for reasons of climate protection. This also affects private households and here the largest energy item, heating. New regulations for saving heating energy have been in force since September 1, 2022, including lowering heating temperatures in living spaces. But you have to pay attention to a few things, otherwise you could get mold – this is not only unhealthy, but can also damage furniture and masonry.
Turn it up – or put on your sweater?
Now that temperatures are dropping, the issue is becoming virulent. In September you are still faced with the decision: turn on the heating or put on a sweater? From October it is usually no longer possible without heating, which is when the official heating period begins. The rule of thumb: For every one degree lower room temperature, you save around six percent heating energy – and the corresponding costs.
The federal government has decreed that work rooms in public buildings may only be heated to a maximum of 19 degrees. Tenants are also released from the obligation to ensure a certain minimum temperature in their apartments, which can be specified in the rental agreement. That means: You can heat less if you want to save energy and money. Some housing associations are now considering turning down the heating themselves.
However: The tenants remain obliged to avoid mold damage through appropriate heating and ventilation and thus protect the building fabric from damage. The North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center is now pointing this out. Therefore, especially in older buildings, the temperature on the radiators should not be reduced indefinitely. “This can lead to mold growth in critical areas such as outside walls, outside corners, window reveals or behind furniture,” explains their expert Rita Maria Jünnemann.
Together with other specialist organisations, the consumer protection center has put together tips for saving heating energy with the focus on “avoiding mould”. To be sure that there is no risk of mold, you can check the room humidity with a thermohygrometer.
The consumer advocates explain: The colder the outside air is, the lower the indoor air humidity should be. According to this, at temperatures below five degrees Celsius in older, uninsulated buildings, a room humidity of less than 50 percent is often necessary to prevent mold growth on colder parts of the masonry. Such hygrometers are available in hardware stores from around ten euros.
The consumer center also recommends heating the entire apartment as evenly as possible as one of the most important steps. “Setting the temperature to 19 degrees Celsius everywhere is better than keeping individual rooms at 21 degrees Celsius and not heating the others at all.” The problem here: If warm air flows from a well-heated room through the door into cold rooms, it can where water settles on the cold outer walls, since the cooled air holds less moisture than the warm air. This can cause mold to develop over time.
In addition, all rooms should be aired regularly, especially bathrooms after showering or bathing and kitchens after cooking. To do this, all windows and interior doors are opened wide so that the stale, damp room air can quickly escape to the outside. Advantage: In contrast to ventilation with tilted windows, hardly any energy is lost because the heat stored in the walls and furniture is retained. The following applies in particular to the bathroom: After showering, the splashing water should be removed immediately from the tiles and the elastic joints with a squeegee.
The following applies to all rooms: External walls and especially the external corners should be as free and well ventilated as possible, especially in older buildings without subsequent insulation, i.e. without furniture or curtains if possible. If furniture cannot be placed differently, according to the consumer advice center, a distance of ten centimeters from the wall should be maintained if possible. Insulated walls are less critical because their surface does not get as cold in winter thanks to the improved insulation and therefore less moisture condenses.
Incidentally, mold is not to be trifled with, also because of the health hazard: mold produces toxins that spread easily in the air and can cause symptoms of poisoning in humans if inhaled. The first signs are headaches and difficulty concentrating, later severe tiredness and impaired perception can occur.
A video from the consumer advice center on the mold problem at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oYOXjKPPcg