Heating: Chimney Sweep gives important advice to homeowners

heat transition

Chimney Sweep has important advice for homeowners

Theresa Martus, correspondent for federal politics

Updated: 04/18/2023 2:26 PM

| Reading time: 8 minutes

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Why chimney sweeps could check ID cards in the future and why it’s worth making a plan for your own house now.


  • The federal government plans to adopt a revised version of the heating law, which is to be discussed this week in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday
  • The main aim of this project is to offer property owners in Germany incentives to renew their heating systems ecologically
  • In this article you will receive tips from a chimney sweep for homeowners

With Julian Schwark and his colleagues, the phone hardly ever stands still these days. Have around 200,000 customer contacts per day chimney sweeper and sweepers in Germany usually overall, says Schwark. “Now our companies are getting so many calls and inquiries that it’s many times more.” And practically all callers want to know how things are going with the heaters.Read here: The subsidy for heating oil and pellets is becoming a nightmare for consumers.

The federal government’s plans for an amendment to the Building Energy Act have caused a great deal of uncertainty among consumers Questions. And they put them, among other things, to the chimney sweeps. Schwark is a member of the board of directors of the Federal Association of Chimney Sweeps and is responsible for energy issues. He and his fellow workers are regularly on site in people’s apartments and houses and are therefore often the first point of contact for everything to do with heating. They need to know the rules that will apply from 2024 – after all, they are the ones who are supposed to control them. Read here: What chimney sweeps check when they visit your home.

Comment on the topic: Compulsory renovation: No climate protection with a crowbar!

Chimney sweeps must report if someone does not replace the heating

“Chimney sweeps are already checking whether the requirements of the Building Energy Act are being met,” explains Schwark. If the heating is correctly installed, the pipes are properly insulated, the boiler has reached the age limit of 30 years, at which fossil heaters need to be replaced now? Chimney sweeps check all of this. “With the new law, there are additional requirements that we have to check.”

This should be “simple and unbureaucratic”, as the Federal Ministry of Economics informed on request. So it should be for the quota of 65 percent renewable energy new heaters are to comply with in the future, “give a pre-defined set of options for implementation”. If a solution is selected from this list, mathematical proof is no longer necessary. Chimney sweeps therefore do not have to calculate for themselves whether a hybrid solution consisting of a heat pump and a gas boiler meets the requirement of running at least 65 percent with renewable energies.

However, the chimney sweeps have to check other things – for example the age if someone wants to claim the exemption for the very old. homeownerwho are older than 80 years, the federal government wants to release them from the obligation to switch to climate-friendly heating if the old one breaks beyond repair. In the event of a so-called accident, they should also be allowed to install a fossil-fuelled heating system again. According to the federal government’s draft law, they must prove to their district chimney sweep that they are old enough to claim this exception.

A fine of up to 50,000 euros can already be imposed

Homeowners who do not install a new heating system despite the obligation to replace it must report chimney sweeps to the responsible authority under current legislation, explains Schwark. They then decide on further steps. In the event of violations, according to the Building Energy Act, up to 50,000 euros fine possible.

In any case, Schwark and his colleagues are faced with a lot of new regulations, “protocols, notices, notifications” about how the new law will be implemented as soon as it has actually been passed. “But that’s all doable, it doesn’t cause us any headaches,” says Schwark.

You can find a lot of exciting news about the new heating law on our topic page

What is more difficult is that although it is now largely clear how citizens should heat their homes in the future, it is not clear how the state intends to help along the way.

That you want to support consumers financially changing their heaters, the coalition agrees on this. It is no coincidence that the result paper of the tough coalition committee last week ended with a section on heating and finally the words “Nobody will be left in the lurch.” However, it is still unclear how exactly this will be ensured. And this despite the fact that the funding and the amendment to the Building Energy Act are to be decided in the cabinet in April.

In the past few days, however, a wide variety of voices from the government alliance have been heard as to what the funding could look like. The ideas range from one kind scrapping bonus for heaters (SPD faction deputy Verena Hubertz) to linking the subsidy to the age of the system (FDP Finance Minister Christian Lindner) to subsidy based on the income of the owner (Greens Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck). Habeck had repeatedly issued the slogan that the bottom line is that heat pumps with the subsidy should not be more expensive than the purchase of a new gas heating system.

Scrap bonus also for heaters? The traffic light discussed

What the traffic light coalition finally agrees on is open. One difficult situation for the chimney sweeps, who are already receiving many questions about funding. “We can’t yet advise people like this and we can’t take away their uncertainty,” says Schwark.

He advises anyone who suspects or knows that the heating system will have to be replaced in the coming years to do so prevention. “Now it’s wise to take a closer look at your building and make a plan,” says Schwark.

For example with the support of energy consultants like Mark Steiger. There is also great interest in the work in his branch. Because energy consultants can provide orientation for those who are faced with the question of how to proceed with their heating. There are freelance consultants, but also consultants at the consumer centers. “If it is foreseeable that the heating system will or must be replaced, consumers should first have a room-by-room heat load calculation made,” says Steiger. “It describes how much energy is needed to heat your building.” With this calculation, you can then go to the heating engineer and discuss with them what the best option is.

According to Steiger, the purchase and installation of heat pumps, which the federal government wants to become standard in Germany, would currently cost between 30,000 and 60,000 euros per unit. There are large fluctuations, because the local conditions can vary greatly. However, if you still have a few years to make the change, you can hope for falling costs, he says. “The manufacturers are all working on complete systems, and the prices will fall as the number of units increases,” explains Steiger. In many new development areas from the 1980s and 1990s, the houses would differ little, “so you don’t have to work out an individual solution for every house”. This will also lower prices in the future.

There is a big one at the moment dynamics in the market, he explains. “I am very optimistic that what is now planned can be implemented.”

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