Efficiency label planned for existing heating systems in Germany

The label for old heating systems will look very similar to the label for new heat generators.
The label for old heating systems will look very similar to the label for new heat generators.

The German government intends to equip old heaters with an efficiency label starting on 1 January 2016. The purpose of this measure is to encourage owners of inefficient heaters to replace them sooner. This could set an example for the rest of the EU.

The label for existing heating systems will be based on the label for new heating systems, which will become mandatory throughout Europe starting on 26 September 2015. This is intended to prevent unnecessary confusion due to too many different labels. However, the draft law still has loopholes that could lead to exactly that happening.

Confusing diversity

According to the current draft law, the efficiency of old heating systems will be measured on a scale from G to A++, for example. The scale for the European label for new heat generators, on the other hand, will be expanded in 2019 and will then range from D to A+++. The A+++ rating will also be introduced for interconnected systems, but at the lower end of the scale, a G is still possible. This means that the European label already provides two different scales, and the German label for old systems would add one more. All of them would look very similar, but they would still not be fully comparable.

This is even likely to lead to confusion among experts. Nevertheless, the label is actually designed to provide end-users with a better understanding of the efficiency of their heating systems.

For this reason, the German umbrella association for renewable energies BEE is proposing to use the European scale to A+++ as a reference. However, this may not help either. The European Commission has announced that it wants to return to the original scale from A to G. Consumer advocates, for example, have been demanding this for a long time. The expansion of the scale with more and more plus signs has already led to the lower end of the scale hardly being used. This will probably also apply to the label for existing systems that the German federal government is now planning.

Solar thermal is not part of the equation

In addition, it seems that the only components affected by the label for old systems will be boilers. If the boiler is connected to a solar thermal system, then this will not be taken into account. With the European label for new systems (ErP), on the other hand, a composite label specifically for this purpose will be created, which takes into account the gas or oil savings achieved by the solar system.

From 1 January 2016 onwards, installers, chimney sweeps and energy advisers will be authorised to place labels on systems. Starting in 2017, district chimney sweeps will even be obliged to label systems during so-called fireplace inspections. Nevertheless, these are only carried out approximately every 3.5 years. Generally speaking, the speed with which the label will be distributed depends mainly on how many labels are placed before labelling transitions from voluntary to mandatory.

Despite all of the criticism: labelling old and inefficient heating systems for what they are is certainly a good idea. Hope remains that the details of the law will be improved.

Jan Gesthuizen

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