When it comes to climate protection, the focus is on the buildings – and with them their heating systems.

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the government is planning new guidelines: According to the coalition agreement, from 2025 every newly installed heating system in Germany should be operated with 65 percent renewable energy.

According to experts, this can only be achieved with a heat pump, the use of which in old buildings is usually expensive.

Why is there such a hype about the heat pump?

Jan Hauser

Editor in Business.

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The traffic light government wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with stricter requirements for heating.

This is very necessary because the building sector has so far failed to meet the climate targets and is responsible for around 30 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Germany.

One way to get there is the heat pump, which draws its energy from water, the ground or the air and needs electricity for its own work.

How many heat pumps are in use?

The Federal Heat Pump Association counts around one million heat pumps in Germany.

"The heat pump is on the way to becoming the standard heating system in Germany," says Chairman Paul Waning.

According to their information, 154,000 heating heat pumps were sold last year.

That is 28 percent more than in the previous year.

For hot water heat pumps, it was an increase of 15 percent with sales of 23,500.

Overall, the market is small: in 2021, electric heat pumps accounted for 2.8 percent of all types of heating in stock.

However, the trend is pointing upwards because the technology was widespread for a long time: in 2010 it was only 1.0 percent.

Half continue to heat with natural gas (from 49.0 percent to 49.4 percent).

Heating oil loses some (from 26.5 percent to 24.8 percent), while district heating increases (from 12.8 percent to 14.1 percent).

While the installation in the old building is complex, it works better in the new building.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) wants to have six times as many heat pumps in Germany in ten years.

Does a heat pump help the climate?

Heat pumps themselves do not cause any CO2 emissions, but they require electricity.

If green electricity is used here, the heat pump should work in a climate-neutral manner.

If this is not the case, as is the case with the current electricity mix in Germany, emissions will occur.

Due to the power requirement, a heat pump can be easily combined with a photovoltaic system.

How does a heat pump work?

A heat pump uses energy from the environment and converts it into heat.

The energy for this comes from water, soil, outside air or exhaust air.

This is often described with the opposite principle of the refrigerator, which extracts heat from the interior and releases it to the outside: The heat pump extracts heat from the exterior and transfers heating energy to the house.

Where are heat pumps installed?

The technology and the costs differ depending on whether the energy is used from the air, the earth or the water.

The air-to-water heat pump is set up outside, is visible on the house and sometimes causes a certain humming - which has already caused disputes with the neighborhood.

Inside, on the other hand, a brine-to-water heat pump is installed, which uses heat from deep within the earth for heating, water heating and cooling.

The water-water heat pump, which is also installed indoors, uses the groundwater as an energy source, which is why the water management office has to approve it.

The first two models are the most commonly used.

When is a heat pump worth it?

That always depends on the individual case and depends on several factors.

Heat pumps are used more often in new buildings.

Here, the planning can be geared to their operation right from the start and, among other things, provide for underfloor heating.

In addition, there are investments for the heating anyway.

Depending on the model, the heat pump alone costs up to 30,000 euros.