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Heat pump on a single-family home

Photo: IMAGO/Zoonar.com/Ingrid Balabanova / IMAGO/Zoonar

The large-scale heating replacement planned by the federal government could also progress much more slowly this year than planned. At least landlords and their tenants as well as homeowners' associations have to wait until May before they can apply for state funding measures. Owners' associations that implement measures on so-called special property even have to wait until August. This usually refers to floor heating systems. This emerges from information from the state development bank KfW. The development bank had previously postponed the start of subsidies for private individual owners to February 27, 2024.

The new rules of the Building Energy Act (GEG) already apply: every newly installed heating system must now be powered by 65 percent renewable energy - albeit subject to local municipal heat planning.

Until now, the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) was responsible for all direct subsidies for building renovation, and all development loans were channeled through KfW. Apparently the state bank did not have enough time to prepare for the change. After a long dispute, the new funding rules were only published in the Federal Gazette at the last moment, on December 29, 2023. They have been in force ever since.

“Minister Habeck's promises are increasingly turning out to be a joke,” said Haus & Grund President Kai Warnecke, criticizing the postponed funding for a heating replacement. He pointed out that a fifth of all municipalities are already involved in drawing up and implementing heat plans. This means that the heating law applies in many municipalities with all the consequences for the owners. »I call on the federal government to only allow the obligation to use 65 percent renewable energy for heating to apply when funding can also be applied for. Anything else contradicts the promises made last summer and undermines the acceptance of the heating transition," said Warnecke.

According to KfW, there should be transitional regulations

The German Association of Real Estate Managers (VDIV) warns that the lack of planning security could “motivate attentism”. "As long as you can't rely on the concrete start of the funding, we'll have to wait and see," says VDIV boss Martin Kaßler. It was completely inexplicable to him why different starting times would apply to different groups. This complicates things unnecessarily.

The federal government had originally accelerated the heating transition, but until the very end the negotiators from the traffic light parties kept putting together the corresponding funding package. The negotiators created programs with catchy names such as “Speed ​​Bonus” and “Economic Booster” with which the heating transition in Germany should finally gain momentum again. A large part of the measures were decided at the housing summit in September. But as a result of the budget dispute, the most recent expansions of the funding program were canceled again. “I already suspected that there would be delays in the funding,” says VDIV boss Kaßler.

However, when asked, KfW emphasizes that there are transitional regulations. »Eligible heating replacement projects can be started now. If the project starts by August 31, 2024, the application can be made up until November 30, 2024," writes KfW. The usual procedure is: first submit an application, wait for the funding to be approved and then start construction work.

Owners receive 30 percent basic subsidies for heating with renewable energies. A further 30 percent funding is intended for households that have a taxable annual income of up to 40,000 euros, which roughly corresponds to 50,000 euros gross. Anyone who replaces their heating system by 2028 should receive a climate speed bonus of 20 percent.

Despite all the efforts, sales of fossil oil and gas heating systems have recently boomed. After a decline in 2022, sales of gas heating systems rose sharply again last year to a record 790,500 boilers sold - an increase of 32 percent. Sales of oil heating even doubled compared to the previous year to 112,500.

The politically desired heat pump achieved a significant jump in sales of 51 percent to 356,000 units, but fell far short of the target of 500,000 sales per year.