Homeowners can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to their heating. Your worst fears don’t come true. They don’t have to throw out their oil and gas boilers immediately. Nevertheless, the end is in sight.
With the compromise of the traffic light coalition on the long-controversial building energy law, the end of oil and gas heating comes in Germany. However, there will be an end in installments because there should be transitional and exceptional regulations. And the market will regulate it a little bit via the price, according to the calculations of the federal government.
What can homeowners do in general?
Homeowners have one less thing to worry about: the originally planned replacement obligation for functioning oil and gas heating systems is off the table. These can continue to operate after January 1, 2024 and even be repaired if they fail. In general, however, anyone who has a heating system installed after this deadline must ensure that at least 65 percent of it is operated with renewable energies. This applies to new buildings as well as to older houses.
And if a heater breaks down after 2024?
In the event of an accident, i.e. if an old oil or gas heating system can no longer be repaired, homeowners should not have to sit out in the cold for weeks because heat pumps cannot be delivered at short notice. You can therefore install an oil or gas burner again, which is usually much quicker. However, this heating must later be ecologically retrofitted in order to meet the 65 percent requirement. There is a period of three years for this. It would be possible, for example, to supplement the conventional gas heating with a heat pump.
Does it have to be a heat pump in the future?
No. The ministries involved – economy, construction, finance – emphasize that there is an openness to technology. It is also possible, for example, to use solar thermal energy or to install a hybrid system of heat pump and gas heating, in which the heat pump covers the basic supply and the gas heating takes over on cold days. Other variants are also possible, such as direct electricity heating, the use of biomass or connection to a heating network.
Is hydrogen also an alternative?
Heating with hydrogen is unlikely to be attractive for most homeowners, if only because of the current high acquisition costs. So-called H2-ready gas heaters, which can be completely converted to hydrogen, may be installed according to the draft law. Prerequisite: There must be a binding investment and transformation plan for hydrogen networks and the heating systems must be operated with at least 50 percent biomethane by 2030 and with at least 65 percent hydrogen by 2036 at the latest. Experts warn, however, that H2-Ready heaters for the combustion of pure hydrogen would still have to be converted at great expense.
Is it worth installing a new gas heating system now?
Anyone who wants to stick to oil and gas for heating at all costs could come up with the idea of having a new burner installed before January 1st next year. That would be permissible. But: The rising CO2 price in the building sector should quickly make heating with only fossil fuels very expensive. And: On December 31, 2044, heating exclusively with oil and gas will definitely come to an end anyway, because Germany wants to be climate-neutral from 2045. Then no more greenhouse gases may be released into the atmosphere when heating.
What exception rules are there?
Anyone who still lives in their own little house in old age can calculate that investing in environmentally friendly heating hardly pays off. Not to mention the effort involved in remodeling, especially in older houses. The traffic light coalition has stipulated that owners who are over 80 years old are not obliged to switch to renewables. If your previous oil or gas heating system breaks down, it can be replaced with one of the same type. But: If the house is inherited or sold, the new law applies – albeit with a transitional period of two years. There are also hardship rules for low-income households.
What about the promised funding?
The traffic light promises to provide financial support for switching to climate-friendly heating so as not to overwhelm anyone and to provide incentives for voluntary conversion. The details, in particular the amount of the funding, are not yet known. According to the Ministry of Finance, there should be a kind of scrapping bonus for old plants. The amount could be based on “how old and dirty” the heating to be replaced is, said Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner just the “Bild am Sonntag”.
How many heaters need to be replaced?
Many many. At present, more than 80 percent of the heat requirement is covered by burning fossil fuels. Of the approximately 41 million households in Germany, almost half are heated with natural gas and almost one in four with heating oil. Together that makes up 75 percent of all households. For comparison: According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, heat pumps account for less than three percent.