Checklist for an energy-efficient renovation |

Checklist for the energy-efficient renovation of your home

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19.02.2024 | 3 minutes

Key information at a glance

  • Whereas a full renovation involves remedying substantial defects, an update or refresh is primarily focused on improving appearances.
  • A building energy certificate provides an assessment of the current condition and can be used to plan the renovation work.
  • From a tax perspective it can make sense to carry out some works either all at the same time or in stages.
  • You should apply for subsidies before starting the work.

Many Swiss people want a modern apartment in the city or a new house in the suburbs or the countryside. However, it is not uncommon for them to purchase a property from the 1960s that requires considerable investment. This is because older buildings often have major defects and the properties no longer meet modern construction standards. At a certain point, a full renovation cannot be put off any longer, especially if you want to reduce your home’s ecological footprint. An intelligent renovation plan can achieve excellent energy savings that will be good for both the environment and your wallet. If you are wondering how best to get started, you’ve come to the right place. Our step-by-step checklist tells you what questions you need to ask about environmentally friendly renovation and what you need to bear in mind.

Glossary: Renovation or update – what’s the difference?

The terms renovation and update are often used synonymously, but this is not quite correct. We explain the difference.

Renovation: If a renovation is necessary, it’s because of problems or defects that need to be remedied to maintain the property’s value, to make it more comfortable or to prevent further problems. Renovation therefore refers to restoring or modernizing a building or apartment.
Example: If asbestos is discovered in the walls, it must be removed to prevent health risks to the occupants. This problem cannot be solved with a simple lick of paint.

Update: An update or refresh is more concerned with improving appearances. Although there could be some superficial damage, there are no substantial defects.
Example: If there is chipped paint on the walls or damaged wallpaper, a fresh coat of paint or some new wallpaper is sufficient. The aim of this type of work is to make the walls look like new again.

Point 1: Determine the current status

There are lots of ways to carry out a renovation. Whether it is best to replace the windows first for better insulation or to invest in a new, energy-efficient heating system depends on the condition of the property. The first thing to do is to take a close look at the condition of your home. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How old is the building or apartment?
  • When was the last major renovation carried out?
  • Are there any serious defects?
  • Are the problems only superficial such that minor works would be sufficient?

Which measures are most urgent? A list of measures can be found in this overview. To obtain comprehensive information about the current energy consumption of your property, it makes sense to have a professional appraisal carried out. The cantonal building energy certificate (GEAK) (German website) shows how much energy is consumed by various electrical installations like heating, hot water or lighting. It is officially recognized and standard throughout Switzerland, meaning all GEAK-tested buildings can be compared according to these standards. In most cases, the preparation of the approximately 4-page report costs about CHF 1,000. The GEAK Plus also shows three possible energy-efficient renovations suitable for your building.

Point 2: Search for information and compare offers

Have you determined the condition of your home and are you now clear about what works are necessary? Perfect. Now it’s a matter of gathering the key information and obtaining quotes. The following questions should help:

  • Which craftsmen have the expertise for my requirements?
  • Which craftsmen are available to carry out energy-saving renovations?

On the Houzy platform, you can obtain free quotes from qualified craftsmen affiliated with the Houzy network by entering just a few key data about your project.

UBS Switzerland AG (“UBS”) has a stake in Houzy AG (“Houzy”). Through its strategic partnership with Houzy, UBS aims to expand its range in the Home & Living ecosystem. By clicking on this link, you will leave the UBS website. UBS has no influence on the data processing of the Houzy website and therefore does not assume any liability for it. UBS is generally not liable for services provided by Houzy.

  • How much should I budget for an energy-efficient renovation?
  • Have I obtained at least three quotes?
  • Will my renovation be financially supported by the canton?
  • How do I obtain these grants?
  • Do I have all the documents I need to apply for them?

The range of subsidies in each canton varies greatly. Read the article “Eco-friendly renovation: three steps to funding” for more information.

Point 3: Draw up a renovation schedule

The remodeling or modernization of a property is usually a major project, especially if you are looking to carry out an energy-efficient renovation. But be careful not to rush into anything. You have gathered all the important information. Now it’s a matter of drawing up a schedule and a budget. Especially if you are planning several works, it makes sense – including from a tax perspective – to tackle certain renovation works either simultaneously or in stages. As far as financing is concerned, it is worth reviewing the various conditions that apply for green mortgages. UBS key4 mortgages offers a Green Mortgage that’s financially worthwhile.

The following questions can help during the planning process:

  • What mortgage types are available to increase my renovation budget?
  • Which tradesmen meet my expectations?
  • When should the renovation start? (if necessary, adjust to the season or the tax year)
  • If several works are necessary: Which has priority? Which can I carry out at a later date?

Does your property have a sustainability certificate?

Then please get in touch and we will check whether you are eligible for a Green Mortgage with a favorable interest rates.

When should which renovation work be carried out?

The materials used in the individual components of a house or apartment usually differ greatly and so too does their longevity. We also use some rooms more often than others, which can lead to varying degrees of wear and tear. The following overview shows which renovation works should be carried out after how many years in order both to keep your home in good condition and to make it more energy-efficient and therefore kinder to the environment.



Time after construction



30-50 years

Facade and insulation

Painting the facade


To save energy:


Internal insulation


Cavity insulation


External insulation


Complete renewal of the facade


10 years




25 years


50 years


40-60 years


50 years


Retrofit (assuming it has been regularly serviced)

15–25 years


New glazing and frames (reduced heat loss)

25–30 years


Full renovation


New electrical equipment (significant energy savings)

15–25 years


10 years


Full renovation (helps save water)

25–30 years

Other work

New solar installation


Renewal of the electrical system


Renewal of smart home (program)

20–25 years


30 years


3–5 years

Do you still have questions, despite your research? Then seek advice from an expert, e.g., an energy consultant. In our article “What kind of energy-saving measures make sense – and when?” you will find more information on the right time for the individual renovation steps.

Point 4: Make a decision

After extensive preparations, you are now ready to put your plan into action. Funding must be officially applied for before the renovation work begins. After receiving approval, you can inform your preferred tradespersons and you’re good to go!

We wish you every success with your ecological renovation.

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