Habeck announces the obligation to control heating: now it is up to the owners

Great gas crisis: obligation to control Habeck heating: now it is up to the owners

To make Germany less dependent on Russian gas, private households will also have to take more responsibility. Meanwhile, Economy Minister Habeck wants property owners to submit to the inspection of gas heating systems. What this plan means for consumers.

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Saving gas is the order of the day. Thus, the Minister of Economy, Robert Habeck (Greens), presented a new energy-saving package at the end of July. This includes measures for property owners who heat their buildings with natural gas. They should, inter alia, check their systems using the so-called heating control and have a hydraulic balance performed.

FOCUS Online explains what the Habeck plan means to consumers, how much it costs and whether it is realistic.

Is the heating control binding?

Yes, the heating control should be binding. However, the owners still have some time for this. According to the earlier plan, the check must be completed at the turn of 2023/24 at the latest.

In addition, hydraulic balancing is to become mandatory for all building owners with central heat supply (most often multi-family houses). At least if you haven’t been doing it for the last few years. In addition, it is planned to replace ineffective, non-controlled heat pumps in buildings with central heat supply. They are great energy eaters.

“The proposed performance and savings measures such as heating control, hydronic balancing and pump replacement will be implemented step by step in the coming weeks. There are currently discussions about a specific design for these measures, ”informs FOCUS Online Frank Ebisch of the Central Association for Sanitation, Heating and Air Conditioning (ZVSHK). Habeck, Minister of Economy and Climate, wants to discuss the exact implementation with the association.

What exactly can consumers expect from heating control?

“Standardized heating control shows the weaknesses and performance potentials in heating systems,” explains Frank Ebisch from ZVSHK. Even when the heater is working properly, it may be consuming too much energy.

Based on a specific table (checklist), the visual results and some measurements are evaluated against the optimal management of the system. “The customer receives a clear list of the weaknesses of his heating system and recommendations for optimization,” continues Ebisch. For heating systems that are more than ten years old, optimization can save up to 20 percent of energy per year. Ebisch: “Even small tweaks and optimizations work.”

On the other hand, hydronic balance ensures that all radiators in the building can be supplied with heat as evenly as possible. This is achieved by restricting the flow of the radiators. “Without hydronic balancing, in times of high heat demand, ie when all tenants in the house want to get up and eat breakfast at a comfortable temperature, there is a temporary shortage of remote heaters, mainly those in the attic,” explains the Association of German Engineers (VDI). Concept. In a perfectly balanced system, the radiators on the ground floor have the same flow as the radiators on the upper floor.

How realistic is a comprehensive inspection of gas heating systems?

In fact, according to a recent study by the Competence Center for the Protection of Skilled Workers of the German Institute of Economics, the shortage of skilled workers in the sanitary, heating and air conditioning professions is particularly great – for both apprentices and masters. In many companies, this already slows down the processing of full order books.

This is also confirmed by Frank Ebisch of ZVSHK: “The order books are now overcrowded than ever – this is the absolute peak for the summer.” Therefore, Ebisch appeals to the patience of consumers who now want to carry out a heating inspection. fast: “You can’t optimize 20 million heaters for Christmas. It is completely unreal. “

Haus & Grund’s energy expert Corinna Kodim also assumes that customers will have to be prepared for longer waiting times and stresses that some of the desired upgrades may not be feasible before next winter. “It is still possible before winter to find a workshop that can service the heating or install a new boiler. But it may take two months for an artisan to arrive, ”says Kodim. However, with more complex work, such as hydraulic balancing of the heating system, it becomes much more difficult. “While this can save a lot of energy, the craft shops do not seem to have the capacity to do so. Lots of people say no, she relates.

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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,” says Ebisch.

How realistic a mandatory gas heating control plan will be depends largely on its final design. In the meantime, any resulting substitute obligations could fail not only because of a lack of skilled workers, but also because of the material – from the boiler to the control technology to the heat pump. “Nearly 95 percent of companies report delivery problems,” says Ebisch. Before the pandemic, only 31 percent of companies complained of problems obtaining the necessary materials.

How must the owners behave now?

In principle, it is up to the owner or operator of the plant to take energy conservation measures. The following still applies: Daylight saving time is maintenance time. “Even regular maintenance of the heating system has the potential to save energy,” explains Ebisch.

She advises homeowners to consider optimization options if their gas heating system is more than 20 years old. “Anyone who has installed an efficient gas condensing boiler in recent years can ask their local heating contractor what useful technical additives are possible to integrate renewable energy – such as solar energy,” says Ebisch.

How much does a heating inspection cost – and who bears the costs?

The owners bear the costs. It takes about an hour to fully check the system of a single-family house. According to experts, the average cost of the control itself is around EUR 120.

On the other hand, hydraulic balancing is much more expensive. Here you should take into account the costs from 650 to 1,250 euros. This also applies to a single-family home.

How do consumers have to prove that they have checked the heating?

When presenting the energy security package, Habeck denied fears of state control of heating in private households. “It was never about us introducing a kind of heat police.” The extent to which a comprehensive inspection of gas heating systems should be or will be checked has not yet been finally clarified.

Meanwhile, Ebisch from ZVSHK emphasizes that, for the sake of general evidence, everything is already regulated in the EU directive “Overall Energy Efficiency in Buildings”. “There, in” Article 14 Inspection of heating systems “and” Article 15 Inspection of air conditioning systems “there are conditional inspection requirements. Article 16 describes how to provide evidence of a specialized contractor’s report or declaration. ‘ Accordingly, the inspection report is handed over to the owner or tenant of the building.

How can you save money by heating with gas outside the control of heating?

In addition to controlling heating and hydraulic balance, owners have other ways to save money. The North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center gives you 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 suitable electronic, programmable thermostats will pay for itself in just a few years,” recommends 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.

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