The measure is part of Germany’s ambition to achieve climate neutrality by 2045 as the construction sector was responsible for 15% of the country’s emissions last year.
1. Fossil heating ban
New oil and gas heating systems in Germany will be banned from 2024 and the government is mandating all new heating systems to be powered by at least 65% renewable energies. The decision, aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions is triggering panic among homeowners who will be forced to heavily invest on alternatives to heat their homes. The ban resolution was recently approved by the German government following a previous decision from Berlin’s ruling coalition determining that, as of next year, all buildings — new or old — should be covered by the latest national climate targets.
Dirk Jänichen runs a heating and sanitation company in Berlin and he told DW that anyone who wants a heat pump installed in their house has to wait nine months. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, Jänichen’s business has mainly consisted of installing such heating systems. Germany has been dependent on Russian natural gas for a long time and the fear of supply cuts prompted citizens to rethink heating and cooling systems. “Starting in 2022, everyone was suddenly afraid that there would be no more gas, so they all wanted heat pumps,” explained Jänichen.
2. Heat pumps
Heat pumps are a key technology to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions as they present an efficient way to heat and cool buildings. Jänichen said he and his team are able to install 40 heat pumps per year together with the solar panels that make them even more efficient. Indeed, one of the main advantages of heat pumps is that they can extract heat from renewable sources, such as the sun, ground, air, or water. This means that they can provide heating and cooling with a much lower carbon footprint.
3. Rising bills
However, the cost of installing heat pumps remains prohibitive for many families. Even with government’s subsidies of up to 50%, a heat pump system for a single-family cost around €17,000.
“When it became clear at the end of last year that Germany would have enough natural gas after all and the price would go down again, many customers said; ‘Then I’d better install a gas heating system because it’s available and cheaper’,” explained Jänichen.
To ease the transition, the German government will offer a subsidy of 30% for residential properties occupied by owners and 10% extra if the owners go for an earlier climate-friendly heating switch than required by law, regardless of the household income. In addition, homeowners who receive income-related welfare benefits could get 20% extra subsidy for the switch.
The funding for more sustainable heating will come from the Climate and Transformation Fund, an additional budget to push green investments, with some 180 billion euros earmarked for 2023 to 2026, according to Reuters.
A survey by Forsa revealed that around 78% of Germans are against the planned law and about 62% expect heating bills to rise after a switch to renewables.