Energy: A look into the basement: How does the heating become climate-neutral?

Energy: A look into the basement: How does the heating become climate-neutral?

The new heating law is to be passed soon. For many homeowners, nothing will change for the time being – first of all, most municipalities have to submit heat plans.

Not only driving, but also heating should become more environmentally friendly. To ensure that fewer and one day no more climate-damaging gases are emitted when heating in Germany, two laws are planned that have a lot to do with each other: a law on heat planning in cities and communities and the controversial law on replacing old oil and gas heating systems, the so-called heating law.

It will often be many years before new heating systems are installed as a result of the legislation. Nevertheless, many people are already thinking about how they will one day heat their home – and how much that will cost.

When should the laws apply?

The Heating Act (Building Energy Act), which has not yet been passed, is scheduled to come into force at the beginning of 2024 and will initially only apply to new construction areas. Owners of existing buildings should only be obliged to heat with at least 65 percent renewable energies if their old heating system breaks down once there is a municipal heating plan.

Subsidies for new acquisitions are planned. It will take a while before everything is ready: According to the draft law, cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants should have until mid-2026 to prepare their heating plans. All other municipalities should submit them by June 30, 2028.

How do Germans heat at the moment?

Still mainly with gas. According to statistics from the energy industry association BDEW, 49.3 percent of the 43 million apartments and single-family homes in 2022 were heated with natural gas. However, the proportion has declined somewhat since 2020 (49.5 percent). Oil heating is still in second place with 24.7 percent, while district heating is in third place with 14.2 percent. Electric heat pumps have increased. While their share was 2.0 percent in 2017, it is now 3.0 percent. Electric heaters provided heat in 2.6 percent of all apartments. Other types of heating such as wood pellets, solar thermal energy or coke and coal accounted for 6.2 percent.

What do energy consultants recommend for homeowners as the best way to heat?

According to the consumer center of North Rhine-Westphalia, the question is more: “Which heating system suits your house?”. Consumer advocates generally advise environmentally friendly heating with renewable energies. “The change often pays off quickly thanks to attractive funding programs.” In addition, the CO2 tax and increased fuel prices have made heating with fossil fuels significantly more expensive every year. And there is also a basic piece of advice: “Plan a heating replacement early, before your heating breaks down!”

“It depends above all on the year the house was built,” says Andreas Peeters, head of the guild for chimney sweeps in North Rhine-Westphalia. Heat pumps are currently predominantly installed in new buildings. With older buildings, things get more tricky. Air heat pumps can still be installed in younger buildings built up to around 1995, especially if underfloor heating is already installed. In older buildings, something needs to be done about the building envelope before a heat pump can be installed. “The better the insulation, the more efficiently a heat pump can work,” says Peeters.

What is the cheapest way to heat a house or apartment?

“That can’t be said in general terms,” ​​says Peeters. It also depends on the individual building. At the moment, a state-of-the-art condensing boiler that runs on oil or gas, or even a pellet boiler could be the cheapest type of heating. However, there are uncertainties in oil and gas prices, and the price of CO2 is rising. Peeters calls the operation of a heat pump in connection with a photovoltaic system “reasonable”. However, it will take many years for such a combination to pay off.

How long does it take to install a new heating system?

“It very often takes almost a year before the last component of a system is delivered,” says Hans-Peter Sproten, General Manager of the Trade Association for Sanitary, Heating and Air Conditioning (SHK) in North Rhine-Westphalia. “If you see a company installing a heat pump today, it was ordered plus/minus a year ago.” Once all the material has arrived, it could take several more weeks or months before it can be installed because the specialist companies are working at full capacity.

A fossil-fuelled heating system can be replaced or modernized more quickly. “The delivery time for gas appliances is two to three months on average and five to six months for oil boilers,” says Sproten. In addition, there is the period of time that one has to wait for an assembly date or for additional components.

How much does a new heater cost?

That depends on many factors, such as the type of heating you choose and the size of the building. The non-profit climate protection portal CO2Online, for example, puts the cost of an air heat pump at 8,000 to 16,000 euros, but at the same time refers to the funding opportunities. The online comparison of heating costs by the energy industry association BDEW often gives five-digit amounts, for example for pellet systems or geothermal heating, depending on the type of heating.

Some homeowners also change their power supply when they replace their heating system – and install a photovoltaic system on the roof, the electricity from which then drives an air heat pump. The costs are correspondingly higher. A completely different calculation results if the building is to be connected to a district heating network in the future and therefore no longer needs its own heating system.

How are craft businesses preparing for the expected demand?

“The rush of orders began in the spring of 2023 and is continuing,” says Sproten. “The SHK trade is under enormous pressure.” Every customer is worried about his existing system and the conditions and costs associated with it. “It can be assumed that the rush will increase again when the facts are on the table.”

There are few ways to prepare. “The job market is empty, skilled workers are rare and in demand, the building structure in Germany is heterogeneous and the system technology to be installed is always complex in individual cases,” says Sproten. Anyone who can hire staff, take over businesses without a successor and forge alliances with friendly businesses.

Source: Stern

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