Given soaring gas prices, anyone who wants to warm up and start heating before winter has a problem. Because the artisan order books are full.
Save gas, save gas, save gas: this is the order of the day. However, homeowners who want to take this seriously in the face of dramatically increased energy prices and possible bottlenecks have a problem. Craftsmen who maintain or modernize the heating are hard to find. It may take months for a technician to show up. And if you want a heat pump installed, you have to be even more patient.
Full order books with craftsmen
“The order books are now as full as they are rarely – summer is absolutely high,” said Frank Ebisch of the Central Sanitary, Heating and Air Conditioning Association (ZVSHK), summarizing the results of the current member survey. Companies work an average of 18 weeks.
The association welcomes the fact that the Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) now wants to oblige all owners of gas heating systems to carry out a heating inspection by the end of the penultimate heating period 2023/24. “Nobody who drives a car lets it roll for 10 years without control, or the heating is different,” said Ebisch. But owners of heating systems would have to be patient: “You can’t optimize 20 million heating systems by Christmas. It’s completely unreal. ”
Long waiting times for customers
In fact, customers often need to be prepared for longer waiting times and some desired upgrades may not be feasible before next winter. “It is still possible to find a craftsman’s workshop to service the heating or install a new boiler before winter. It can take up to two months for a craftsman to arrive, ”says Corinna Kodim, an energy expert at the owners association Haus & Grund.
With more complex work, such as hydraulic balancing of the heating system, it becomes much more difficult. “It can save a lot of energy, but the workshops don’t seem to have enough capacity for it. Lots of people quit, “she reports. And it could be even worse. “When installing heat pumps, customers must be prepared to wait up to a year,” says an industry expert. “It is still a new territory for many heating companies. There is an apparent shortage of skilled workers, and supply bottlenecks also play a role. Anyone who can do this is at full capacity and ahead of their orders. ”
In fact, the shortage of skilled workers in the plumbers, heating and air conditioning professions is particularly high for both apprentices and masters, according to a recent study by the Competence Center for Skills Deficiency of the Institute of German Economy. “In these three jobs, there were only about 20 suitably qualified unemployed per 100 vacancies nationwide,” the researchers wrote in the study. Mathematically, 80 percent of all vacancies could not be filled. In many companies, this slows down the processing of complete order books.
However, not only skilled workers are lacking, but often also materials – from the boiler, through control technology, to the heat pump. “Nearly 95 percent of companies report delivery problems,” said Ebisch. Before the pandemic, only 31 percent. companies complained about problems with obtaining the necessary materials. The difficulties with the desired heat pumps are particularly serious. “There is currently no heat pump on the market. There is staff there, no material, ”said Ebisch.
Appeals to craftsmen
Due to the bottlenecks, the president of the Federal Network Agency pleaded in favor of “all craftsmen to concentrate heavily on heating and hot water supply”. The Central Association for Sanitary Installations, Heating and Air Conditioning recently called on craftsmen to free up production capacity where possible to better adapt as many heating systems as possible in Germany. “I think there is solidarity,” said Ebisch. If, for example, delivery problems stop work on a construction site, this time can be used elsewhere to maintain heating systems.
And self-help tips
The North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center now gives tips on how to help yourself. “Re-insulating heating pipes that are poorly insulated or not insulated at all can save a few percent and you can do it yourself with a little manual skill,” explains energy expert Reinhard Loch. In hardware stores, there is material for this, an explanatory video on the website of the consumer center.
“Replacing the thermostatic heads with appropriate electronic, programmable thermostats will pay for itself after just a few years” – recommended Loch. The same applies to the installation of economical shower heads made of the right material, the setting of the instantaneous water heater to about 38 degrees and the substantial reduction of hot water consumption. (dpa)