Berlin The plans of Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) to ban the installation of oil and gas heating systems from 2024 are apparently causing great uncertainty among the population. The head of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (VZBV), Ramona Pop, told the Handelsblatt: “Many consumers are concerned.” This was also shown by current inquiries from the energy advice centers of the consumer organizations.
In the first two months of the current year, consumption centers nationwide recorded a significant increase in consultations. In total, the VZBV has registered 41,530 consultations since the beginning of the year. This corresponds to an increase of 32 percent compared to the same period last year (31,372 consultations).
The association told the Handelsblatt that the main topics of the discussions with experts were renewable energies and heating technology, followed by structural thermal insulation and support programs.
This continues the upward trend in energy consulting. Last year, 280,000 citizens nationwide sought the advice of consumer advocates. This corresponds to an increase of 57 percent compared to 2021 (178,000 consultations).
The project of the Federal Ministry of Economics stipulates that from next year new heating systems must be operated with at least 65 percent renewable energy. However, a corresponding draft law is controversial in the government. So far, the plan is for the cabinet to agree on March 29th.
FDP accuses Habeck of unsustainable promises
However, the fronts are hardened further. Habeck had promised households with lower and middle incomes that switching to a heat pump from 2024 would not be more expensive than a new gas heating system. He wants to finance this with federal grants.
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The FDP then accused the Vice Chancellor of making untenable promises. “I don’t think it’s feasible to lower the price of heat pumps to the level of gas heating either,” said parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr of the “Bild” newspaper. A conventional heating system costs about 7000 euros, a heat pump can quickly amount to 20,000 euros. There would also be costs for remodeling. “I don’t have the imagination how this should be financed.”
Consumer advocate Pop believes it is fundamentally right to reduce dependency on fossil fuels “significantly and quickly”. “Especially for heat pumps, the investment costs are currently extremely high,” said the VZBV boss.
That’s why households with low, but also middle-income should be given “sufficient” support when replacing the heating system, she warned. Pop demanded financial compensation for replacing gas heating in apartment buildings with a central heat pump, especially if the gas heating was still relatively new.
Energy experts like Veronika Grimm, meanwhile, fear that consumers will react against the Habeck plans at the expense of climate protection. “This can be a decisive building block for the failure of climate protection,” Grimm told the Handelsblatt. Countless households would now quickly install a gas heater, and the plan would tie up specialists at the wrong time.
The economist is also critical of Habeck’s plans for financial cushioning of the heating exchange, which would create a “bureaucratic monster” because “a lot of exceptions” would have to be observed.
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