Want to ride the building renovation wave? Renovate heating and cooling!

Credits: European Commission

A climate-neutral building stock by 2050 is crucial to achieve carbon-neutrality for the whole European economy. Therefore, the Renovation Wave for Buildings should accelerate the replacement of the tens of millions of old, inefficient heating and cooling systems installed in Europe’s buildings with new, highly efficient and renewable-based ones.

The good news is that these technologies already exist. In heating: from condensing boilers already working with biomethane to electric and gas heat pumps, from hybrids to solar thermal, from micro-combined heat and power to fuel cells, from thermal energy storage to digital energy managements systems. And other technologies are in the making, to integrate new renewable sources of energy. Also in cooling, constant innovation brings efficiency gains and ever-increasing performance to new appliances. Depending on the building, climate conditions and preferences of consumers, different heating and cooling technologies can be used for renovation projects.

Heat pumps are an efficient and well-proven technology that can provide both, heating and cooling. This will be more and more important for healthy and comfortable indoor conditions, considering increasing temperatures coming with a greater need for cooling throughout Europe,” says Andrea Voigt, Director General of EPEE.

But the replacement of old appliances is not proceeding fast enough. How to accelerate it? First, financing upfront investments in heating and cooling technologies for renovation will be essential, for example with national scrapping schemes or green mortgages. Indeed, while these investments pay back over time, there are still important upfront costs.

Renovation packages that include financial incentives and make the heater replacement easy and stress free for the end consumer are important tools that should be pushed for by the European Commission and the member states in the upcoming renovation strategy. Similarly, new players that build their business on modern business models, i.e. using the economic value of demand side flexibility, reduce the end-user cost for the investment. From a technical perspective, the latest generation of heat pumps is feasible to replace fossil fuel heating systems. It is mostly economic barriers that need to be overcome”, says Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of the European Heat Pump Association.

And crucially focus on consumers and installers: “There can be no renovation wave of heating in buildings without people: they should be in charge to choose the most suitable heating system for their building. This means being aware of the efficiency gains achievable with new heating systems; having the means to afford the upfront replacement costs and easily finding skilled installers to bring efficient technologies to your home”, says Federica Sabbati, Secretary General of EHI.