The EPBD pushes EU Member States to improve the energy performance of buildings. With buildings accounting for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption, the achievement of the EU’s goals on climate and energy depends greatly on sufficient progress in this area. The EPBD promotes a range of instruments that Member States can apply (nearly Zero Energy Buildings standards for new buildings, Energy Performance Certificates to inform consumers and regularly inspecting heating systems). Such technology-neutral tools push more high-efficiency technologies, but do not oblige consumers to use specific technologies in their new or renovated buildings. This is the right choice, as a one-size-fits-all policy that incentivises e.g. the same or similar heating solutions across the EU will not work.
While the EPBD has made significant contributions to inform consumers about the importance of a building’s energy efficiency, there is one area where insufficient progress has been made: accelerating the renovation of the existing building stock and the modernisation of old heating appliances. Tackling the 80 million old heaters – mostly boilers – is important, because heating and hot water account for approximately 85% of the energy consumption in buildings. To stay on track to meet its 2030 climate and energy targets, the EU needs to develop a dedicated policy to accelerate the replacement of old heating systems. But how?
For EHI, the lack of consumers’ awareness about the (in)efficiency of their old heating appliance is a key barrier to modernising the heating of European homes and offices. A concrete policy tool to increase consumer awareness is an energy label for installed heating appliances. Such a label informs consumers about the efficiency of the heater installed in their own home and makes them aware about the higher-efficiency heating appliances available. Typically, this label is awarded during a regular maintenance visit by an installer. Such a label builds on the successful Ecodesign and Energy Labelling policies, which apply to new products put on the market. Since 2016, a labelling programme for installed heaters has been rolled out in Germany, where the German government also provides information to consumers about the potential energy savings and the available financial incentives.