German house

Wirkung. Effect. Wirkungsgrad. Difference between output and input. Wirtschaftlichkeit. Difference between goals reached and resources used.

In most German buildings – residential or commercial – the lights in the hallways go off automatically after a short amount of time. Switches on the walls near the doors and in the middle of the hall allow one to turn the light back on. Germans refer to the lights being on as brennen, burning, as in a candle, oil lamp or burning fuel.

Germany, with 80 million inhabitants and large portions of its territory devoted to agriculture, is the size of the American state of Montana. Germans are well versed in maximizing the use of space. Rarely is there a house or apartment in a German city or town with an attic or basement which has not been renovated for use as an additional bedroom, study or storage space.

German supermarkets, too, are rather compact. As are the packaging of consumers items, often fit to the size of the content. No oversized breakfast cereal boxes or potato chip bags.

During the cold months down blankets at night keep old and young warm and comfortable while the heat is turned down or even off. Down blankets are expensive, but they last for many years.

When walking, cycling or driving by new house construction one can see stacks of insulation material waiting patiently to make their contribution to energy conservation, their necessity legislated by state and local building codes. In fact, the German government provides generous subsidies for renewable energy sources: wind, solar, biomass.

As for electricity-gulping air conditioning, you’ll find very few residential homes outfitted with it. The majority of office buildings allow you to simply open the windows. Hazy, hot and humid weather comes to the northern and middle European climate for only a few weeks a year. The nights always cool down, allowing for buildings to take in natural air conditioning.