Expert on heating technology rules
“Habeck’s plans are not well thought out from start to finish”
By Christina Lohner
03/09/2023, 8:14 p.m
Experts expect that real estate with oil and gas heating systems will continue to lose value. However, they consider a ban on new combustion heaters to be sensible because of climate change. For a researcher, the Economics Minister’s goals don’t even go far enough.
Economics Minister Robert Habeck confirmed his plans to ban new oil and gas heating systems in residential buildings from 2024 in the morning. But not only the housing industry, crafts, FDP and opposition attack them sharply. In the eyes of Steffen Sebastian, Professor of Real Estate Financing at the University of Regensburg, these are not thought through “from beginning to end”. “That doesn’t help us any further with our goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2045, it actually blocks it,” says Sebastian in an interview with ntv.de. In his opinion, the federal government thinks too much ecologically and not enough economically.
The bill has not yet been passed. It currently stipulates that from next year all newly installed heating systems must generate at least 65 percent of their heat from renewable energies. According to experts, this is only possible with alternative systems such as heat pumps or district heating. From 2045, heating systems should then run entirely on renewable energies, i.e. only a good 20 years later. “Such a step-by-step approach doesn’t work for real estate,” explains Sebastian. “Each component has to last 30 years, including the heating.”
As a result, this would mean that every investment at the current time would ultimately have to result in a building being climate-neutral by 2045. “Actually, property owners should now be told that they have to spend a lot of money so that their property is climate-neutral by 2045,” says Sebastian. For example, there is no point in insulating a building from the 1960s a bit so that the new heating works. In order for it to be climate-neutral in 2045, it would have to be properly and completely renovated.
“The government doesn’t think regionally enough”
The scientist sees no problem in cities where property values are high and investments can be financed accordingly. The technology is basically also available, and there is always a technological learning curve. The “only” problem that remains is that the electricity for this would also have to come from renewable sources. For the heat supply, Sebastian proposes district solutions, so that entire districts are supplied with district heating. However, district heating networks would have to be built where there are none.
The government, on the other hand, is neglecting the rural regions, according to the real estate expert. “The federal government thinks too much in terms of the federal government and not enough in spatial alliances.” In rural areas, new heating technologies and expensive energetic renovations – which in turn are a prerequisite for the former – are causing major financial problems. A real estate owner in Munich, for example, can finance this with a loan because apartments and houses are worth a lot there. In Salzgitter, on the other hand, such investments are not worthwhile – they would be more expensive than the property itself, Sebastian calculates. As a result, it would make more financial sense in many rural regions to leave a property empty than to refurbish it in a climate-neutral manner. “If the regulations are not accompanied by appropriate funding, we will empty out the structurally weak regions,” warns the industry expert.
Heating technology influences real estate value
Kristin Wellner, professor of real estate management at the Technical University of Berlin, supports Habeck’s plans. She expects that real estate with gas and oil heating systems will lose value simply by the announcement of the law, as she says in an interview with ntv.de. “But what would be the alternative?” In her opinion, it would be worse if roofs were covered by heavy rain or storms as a result of climate change and properties were no longer habitable. “The big question behind it is more important in the long term than current price reductions in real estate.”
Even before Habeck’s announcement, at least since the price increases due to the energy crisis as a result of the Ukraine war, real estate whose heating technology can be easily switched from fossil fuels to heating systems with renewable energies was more valuable, reports Wellner. For example, an apartment in the city that is connected to a district heating network whose power plant could be converted. “It’s easier than replacing many individual heaters.” According to Wellner, an alternative to a ban on new oil and gas heating systems would have been even greater government support for alternative technologies. But that is very expensive for the state and is slower.
“The end is sealed”
The researcher admits that it is problematic that gas was until recently considered an ecologically acceptable option in the real estate industry compared to some other technologies. But since the price jumps, only a few property owners and home builders are considering gas heating. “The end is sealed anyway,” says Wellner. “And that’s already priced into the market piecemeal.”
In the run-up to the International Sanitary and Heating Trade Fair, which begins on Monday, the skilled trades once again referred to delivery bottlenecks for heat pumps and technical hurdles in existing buildings. Hardly insulated outer shells and small radiators are bad conditions for the electricity-driven heat pumps, which create significantly lower flow temperatures than conventional burners. In tight settlements, it is also important to find conflict-free locations for the outdoor devices, which according to Bosch can cause noises of between 30 and 50 decibels. The plumbing trade and heating industry also consider Habeck’s plans to be half-baked. In contrast to the two scientists, however, they reject a ban on new gas and oil heating systems.