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Member Expert Thoughts: How heat pumps have turned the installer industry into a climate saver industry

September 26, 2022

“We are CO2 savers, climate protectors and independence makers!” -Ingo Hamann

In Germany, from 1 January 2024, heating systems that are newly installed – whether in a new building or when replacing an existing system – must supply heat with a share of at least 65% renewable energies. In fact, this is equivalent to a ban on installing fossil-based heat generators such as gas heaters or oil-fired boilers. It’s easy to calculate that every new heat pump generally meets the 65 percent requirement.

With a seasonal performance factor (SCOP) of 3, which every new system should achieve, two thirds and thus 66% of the heat comes from the environment – completely independent of how much renewable energy is currently coupled into the electricity needed for this. In reality, of course, there is always a share of renewable energies in the electricity mix, many heat pump systems are even completely supplied with green electricity or use the self-produced electricity from a solar PV system installed on a roof.

Thanks to the heat pump, the heating industry is becoming a climate saver worldwide – which offers huge opportunities for the specialist trade. Which industry can already advertise such a positive image on the labour market?

How about South Africa?

While German industry is a global leader when it comes to heat pump technologies, with the triumph of heat pump technology all over the world, there are huge opportunities here in the Rainbow State as well. It doesn’t take much to achieve the success of heat pump systems. Many heat pump systems are already installed and delight customers with low energy costs. In addition, there is the saving of CO2 and the complete avoidance of exhaust gases, as is the case with gas or oil heating.

The market for solar power systems is growing immensely and many new buildings are equipped with a solar power system from the start. For the most part, homeowners are driven by the “fear” of power cuts, which can last several hours a day. But…

Many people want to do something more about climate change

They make a conscious decision to use renewable energies. The use of a heat pump is particularly helpful here. Instead of using energy-guzzling geysers to produce hot water, you can save between 70 – 80% when using a heat pump and in connection with a solar power system, even 100% compared to conventional geysers. Given that the installation is done according to the installation standards and not fitted “just like it”!

Almost every single-family house is suitable for the installation of a heat pump, which is why their market share on the housing market is growing every year. However, the costs vary greatly. The worse the house is thermally insulated and the higher the warm water, cooling, and heating requirements of the house, the more expensive it becomes.

Therefore, investing in a good building envelope and in sustainable building components is necessary, if you build a house. If the building is energy-efficient, the system technology with a heat pump can crown the project.

How to start?

Most buildings in South Africa are older, existing buildings. Here you can take the first simple steps to save energy without major interventions in the building fabric or digging deep into your wallet. In most cases, the existing hot water supply can be replaced with a hot water heat pump without a big hassle. That would be the first step in the right direction.

Qualified installers can help you through planning phase, installation and commissioning and be the above-mentioned climate changer or independence maker.

Ingo Hamann is Managing Director of STIEBEL ELTRON Southern Africa (PTY) Ltd., a German heat pump manufacturer and one of the world’s market leading suppliers of technology products for building services and green tech. Ingo joined the STIEBEL ELTRON group in 2005 and took over the position in South Africa in 2021. | +27 10 001 85 47 | [email protected] |

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