Several country representatives have sharply criticized the plans for the gradual replacement of heating systems. "I believe the best way is a complete reboot. This law will not be successful, but on the contrary will lead to huge tensions," said Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) on Friday at a consultation on the subject in the Bundestag in Berlin. "In any case, it will be a heavy burden for millions of Germans," said Söder. "People are afraid." The two responsible federal ministers, Robert Habeck (Economy/Greens) and Klara Geywitz (Construction/SPD), tried to refute the objections.

According to the draft law passed by the Federal Cabinet, 2024 percent of every newly installed heating system is to be powered by renewable energies from 65 onwards. Existing oil and gas heating systems can continue to be operated, broken heating systems may be repaired. If this is not possible, transitional periods are intended to facilitate the exchange. The law is intended to herald the farewell to gas and oil heating systems in the interests of climate protection.

The Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig (SPD), emphasized: "Climate protection must be practically solvable, it must be feasible and it must also be financially feasible." Not everyone who has a house is automatically rich. The law must come with a large amount of funding, especially for small and medium-sized incomes. At the same time, like other country representatives, she committed herself to the goal of making the heat supply more climate-friendly.

Is there a threat of sale in the worst case?

"I'm also unsure what to do," confessed Saxony-Anhalt's head of government Reiner Haseloff, who said he himself was waiting for a new heating system. One stands for climate protection, and the building sector must do its part, said the CDU politician. However, it is not possible without acceptance among the population: "Many people are worried that they will have to sell their own house or apartment later in the worst case, because they will not be able to bear the costs of changing the heating system."

Brandenburg's Infrastructure Minister Guido Beermann (CDU) said that many citizens were highly insecure and feared financial overload. "For many families, the question is currently whether the dream of owning their own home will become an economic nightmare. Many pensioners therefore fear that their retirement provision associated with their home is at risk." Thuringia's State Chancellery Minister Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff (Left) missed a "comprehensive investment and funding program" that had been worked out, but in its place there were only key points.

The many critical remarks did not prevent Economics Minister Habeck from thanking him for the "objective, calm debate, which, if I may say so, stands out pleasantly from some harsh tones or many harsh tones of the past". He sought to dispel doubts about the financial feasibility: The money should not come from the regular budget but from the Climate and Transformation Fund, "which is of course also finite". Through reallocations and advancements, however, the necessary money can be found there.

"Heat pump pays for itself after 18 years"

The installation of a heat pump pays off without subsidies after 18 years, Habeck said – and the federal government is planning a support of up to 50 percent. "So it is already more attractive, financially more attractive, not to invest in fossil heating systems over the duration of one's life without subsidies."

Federal Building Minister Geywitz said that there are "not so many levers" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector. You can either insulate the houses so well that even heating with fossil fuels produces only minimal CO2 or you can say goodbye to these fuels when heating. Half of Germany's single-family homes are in need of renovation. "And that's why, from my point of view, changing the heating system is a better key than saying we have to renovate everything now." Heating with wood or biomass should also remain possible.

Geywitz said that the plans were "not in a hurry," "but much too late." A heater can easily last 20 or 30 years. "This means that if we want to be climate-neutral by 2045, there can be no more gas and oil heating systems." Her house is already working on a law on municipal heat planning.

Meanwhile, the Association of Municipal Companies (VKU) pleaded for a postponement of the regulations on heating replacement by one year to January 1, 2025. It is right that the federal government is working on the legal basis for a climate-neutral heat supply, said VKU Managing Director Ingbert Liebing of the German Press Agency. "This goal must be achieved by 2045, there is no doubt about it." The amendment to the Building Energy Act (GEG) is a central building block for this – but others are missing. What is needed is a law for municipal heat planning and an effective funding framework for the necessary investments.