The efficient use of energy is crucial to ensuring a successful energy transition. The Federal Government of Germany has therefore set itself clear objectives with the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NAPE), which aims to reduce the primary energy consumption in Germany - compared to 2008 levels - by 20 per cent until 2020, and by 50 per cent until 2050. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions should fall by 40 per cent compared to 1990. To reach this goal, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) launched the "National Top Runner Initiative (NTRI)" in January 2016. The initiative concerns private homes as well as industry, retail, and services.
The NTRI is intended to bring energy efficient and high-quality appliances (so called Top Runners) to the market more quickly, thus accelerating market replacement. Knowledge and competence in product-related energy efficiency is to be strengthened and expanded along the whole value chain - from the appliance manufacturer to the retailer and the consumer. Manufacturers are pushed to develop more efficient products and consumers receive valuable information about Top-Runner products and how they may benefit from them. In this sense, retailers are especially relevant as they act as the "gatekeeper" between manufacturers and consumers. They play a key role in promoting energy efficient production and consumption. They not only select products, but also have direct contact with consumers and influence purchasing decisions. In this paper, special emphasis will be put on the role of retailers and the efforts of the National Top Runner Initiative will be highlighted. The paper will also elaborate on the barriers and incentives to motivate this target group.