Energy: heating conversion - what that means for consumers

The plans of the traffic light coalition for the heating conversion to renewable energies are taking shape.

Energy: heating conversion - what that means for consumers

The plans of the traffic light coalition for the heating conversion to renewable energies are taking shape. On Tuesday, the "Bild" newspaper reported on a public draft for a ban on the installation of new gas and oil heating systems from 2024. However, the details should still be treated with caution: "The drafts, some of which are circulating, are not up-to-date and do not correspond to the current status," emphasized a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Consequences for tenants and homeowners

Every second household in Germany is currently heated with natural gas. From 2024, no new natural gas and oil heating systems are to be installed. They would be replaced by heating systems that are operated with at least 65 percent renewable energy. From 2045, heating systems should run entirely on renewable energy sources such as wind and sun. Anyone who replaces or repairs a heater beforehand must keep this deadline in mind.

According to the draft, if a natural gas heating system breaks down beyond repair, a traditional heating system can also be installed temporarily for a certain period of time - so you don't have to find a modern replacement immediately. In addition, there should be funding and hardship regulations, according to government circles. Tenants should also be protected against high operating costs, such as those caused by power-hungry heat pumps.

Previous plans

In the coalition agreement, the SPD, Greens and FDP agreed that from 2025 every newly installed heating system should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy. In March of last year, the coalition leaders then agreed that "if possible" from January 1, 2024, every new built-in heating system should be operated in this way. FDP representatives stormed against the plans on Tuesday. Secretary General Bijan Djir-Sarai called the move "nonsense" on the news portal T-Online and predicted rising costs. "As the FDP, we will know how to prevent that."

Which heaters would still be allowed

Heat pumps that use heat from the air, groundwater or the ground could be considered. But also a connection to the heating network or direct electricity heating such as radiators. According to information from government circles, biomass heating systems would also be conceivable, or heating systems that use gas from renewable sources such as green hydrogen. The energy policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Michael Kruse, also campaigned for this, warning of a "scrapping orgy of heating systems".

Lamia Messari-Becker, Professor of Building Technology and Building Physics at the University of Siegen, also warned against a narrow view of the heat pump. With appropriate funding, hydrogen-capable heating systems, district and local heating, geothermal energy and municipal heating plans with renewable energies would also be used, she told the dpa.

The Association of Municipal Companies (VKU) warned that the gas networks would have to be gradually converted to other energy sources. The draft law amounts to a ban on the installation of gas-powered heating systems from 2024, “because at this point in time, green hydrogen or biomethane will not arrive in sufficient quantities from the gas distribution network at the end customer anywhere in Germany,” said VKU Managing Director Ingbert Liebing.

doubts about the feasibility

"The draft law from Habeck is peppered with numerous obligations and detailed specifications, without it being clear how these can be implemented in practice," complained the President of the Haus und Grund owners' association, Kai Warnecke. Messari-Becker called the considerations that had become known "not well thought out in terms of climate policy, socially cold and fraught with massive problems". The buildings in Germany are very different in terms of their energy quality, technical requirements and regional conditions. "So there is no one solution that works well for everyone." Around a third of homeowners are of retirement age, so loans are not a matter of course. She pleaded for municipal heat plans and on-site solutions.

The costs

It would be "very, very expensive," warned Axel Gedaschko, President of the Central Association of the Housing Industry GdW. From 2026, more than a million fossil fuel heaters will have to be replaced each year. "Because by 2030, around 6.5 million additional heaters will have to be replaced beyond the existing renovation plans." Melanie Weber-Moritz from the German Tenants' Association saw the plans as an opportunity, but also warned against leaving the costs to the tenants alone. The planned mandatory replacement of the heating system must be considered as maintenance and only paid for by the landlord.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) sees a great need for government funding so that people with a smaller budget can also make the switch. The federal government must help bear the extra costs compared to gas heating until alternative technologies become cheaper, he said recently. On Tuesday, the SPD parliamentary group insisted on regulations for hardship cases. The Federal Association of Consumers (VZBV) called for help. "Private households must receive financial compensation when dismantling gas floor heating in apartment buildings - especially if the heating is only a few years old," said Thomas Engelke from the VZBV to the "Handelsblatt". But he also emphasized that more independence from fossil energy imports was necessary.

environmental association pleased

On the one hand, the federal government wants to become less dependent on fossil fuel imports, on the other hand, the building sector is also lagging behind the climate goals it has set itself. The federal manager of the German Environmental Aid, Barbara Metz, therefore welcomed the heating plans: "This is also an important step out of our dependence on fossil fuels - and good news for consumers after a year of supply worries and skyrocketing heating costs."