Gas or electricity are becoming more and more expensive – and scarce. It is all the more important that you take savings measures. As the owner of a condominium, however, you are not completely self-sufficient – because some measures require a decision by the homeowners’ association (WEG).
You should change the thermostatic valves on your radiators every 12 to 15 years. Technically, you can do this work yourself. “From a legal point of view, it depends on whether the radiators are defined as separate property in the declaration of division, i.e. whether they are owned by the apartment owner. That is often the case,” says Michael Nack, legal officer of the consumer protection association “Wohnen im property”. “If they are not, owners can submit an application for a resolution, the approval of which cannot be refused at the owners’ meeting.” If you don’t want to wait, you can first keep the old thermostatic valves and dismantle them if necessary. The same applies to smart home-compatible valves, which you can use to control your heating intelligently using an app when you are out and about.
Especially with older heaters, the heating water is often poorly distributed, which means that some radiators heat up faster than others. Some even stay completely cold. Hydraulic balancing helps to ensure more efficient heating. But only with a gas floor heating you are allowed to become active yourself as an apartment owner and order a specialist company. “Gas floor heating systems are usually private property. They belong to the respective owners alone,” explains Nack. “It’s different if you have central heating in the building. Then the heating system is jointly owned and only the homeowners association (WEG) can initiate the comparison.”
As an apartment owner with a gas heating system, you should have further optimization measures checked in connection with a hydraulic balance, for example setting the correct flow temperature or checking the performance of your boiler. The latter can possibly also be determined during the regular maintenance appointment. The general rule is: If, for example, the wall has to be opened to replace a boiler and such a measure is not already permitted in principle according to the declaration of division or the community regulations of the WEG, a decision by the WEG is necessary.
As a rule, however, this cannot be denied to individual owners. “The situation is different when the entire chimney has to be replaced for condensing technology or a second chimney has to be installed. Then apartment owners need the approval of the WEG,” advises Michael Nack.
One option that is both easy, quick and cheap is to seal exposed heating pipes and fittings. You can obtain the necessary material and advice from the hardware store. “Do-it-yourself homeowners can do this themselves, at least for the heating pipes that are exposed in their own condo. They need another decision to insulate the pipes in the rest of the house,” says Michael Nack, assessing the measure.
So that the heat stays in the room, it is advisable to insulate the heating niches, for example with radiator insulation panels or foil. Michael Nack knows: “That is also allowed as long as it does not involve any deeper intervention in the facade. Drilling holes in the wall is not a problem.”
Another trick that you can use to keep the heat in the apartment or in individual rooms is to close window cracks and door gaps. So-called draft excluders or heat traps can be used for this, for example. You can also attach sealing tape. “It always makes sense if the apartment doors or windows cannot be replaced,” says Michael Nack. “A decision is usually not necessary for such small measures.”
Windows cannot always be replaced quickly. Until then, you can use so-called window films. They are easy to attach to the window frame and leave no residue when removed. These insulating films form an air cushion between the glass and the film and thus act like a second window pane. This can help in the short term, especially in listed houses with old windows.
Plug-in solar devices are an option to generate additional electricity if you have a good sunny spot with little shade on your balcony or terrace. However, there are a few points to be clarified in advance: On the one hand, a suitable socket designed for this use must be available; the device must be registered with the network operator; You should definitely pay attention to the quality of the device. And last but not least, the building’s electrical system must be able to cope with the input from such a small system.
Depending on where you set up the solar module, a WEG resolution is necessary: ”Regarding the resolution, only if the attachment of the plug-in solar device requires substance interventions in the common property (e.g. on the balcony parapet), is the approval of the WEG required as part of a majority resolution of the owners’ meeting. Not otherwise,” says Michael Nack.
Some measures to reduce electricity and gas consumption can be tackled very well on your own. However, these are usually only short-term solutions. For this reason, homeowners should think about modernization or renovation measures in the long term together with the homeowners’ association.