Apparently, Germans’ appetite for heat pumps plummeted in the first half of the year. The Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) received less than half as many funding applications as in the previous year. In the social networks, heat pumps are now the preferred choice for populist thigh-slapping anyway. Sample: “We want to have heat pumps that we don’t have installed by tradesmen that we don’t have, in insulated houses with underfloor heating that we don’t have, to heat them with electricity that we don’t produce. Listen up a well thought out plan.”

How did we laugh? But one fact cannot hide all the biting: the idea of ​​heating apartments with heat pumps is still technically correct. There is currently no more efficient, climate-friendly way to make yourself comfortable in the winter and in the bath. Above all, those who operate a photovoltaic system on the roof and draw a large part of the electricity required for the heat pump from it can amortize the higher acquisition costs in a few years. These conditions are being met more and more frequently: around 311,000 private PV systems were added nationwide in the first half of 2023; a total of three million rooftop power plants are in operation.

Even the rather conservative Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI) predicts that, even without a PV system, a heat pump will be cheaper than a gas heater over the term from the year of installation 2027 at the latest. Other experts find the Rhinelanders’ assumptions far too pessimistic. You say that the heat pump is already ahead because the price of gas will rise much faster than the price of electricity in the future. Almost all market experts assume that more green power plants will continue to tame the price of electricity, while gas will definitely become more expensive due to CO2 taxes.

Even those who follow the hesitant EWI assessment would be ill-advised to order a new gas heater these days if the old oil burner will last a little longer. Because you would make a decision that you have to follow for at least 15 years, that’s how long gas heaters usually last (heat pumps, by the way, 20 years).

Instead, one should wait until the Bundestag has decided on the new heating law after the summer break. Because before that, one can only speculate as to who will receive how much financial support from the state for a heat pump in the future. And an oil or gas shortage is not expected for the coming winter, so nobody has to freeze if they wait a little longer. It can be assumed that the subsidy will be significantly higher if, for example, you replace an old oil or gas heating system or if you have a low income. In addition, prices for heat pumps should tend to fall when demand collapses. In any case, some leading manufacturers assume so.

Malice and satire are bad advisors when expensive decisions have to be made. We have seen a similar dynamic of public opinion in the case of e-cars. A community of combustion engine worshipers quickly formed, which to this day lashes out against e-mobiles with fake video reports about the dangers of explosion, pamphlets about gigantic environmental damage and warnings about insane acquisition costs. It has long been clear that electric cars catch fire much less frequently than combustion engines, are more ecological over their entire lifetime and that they are almost always much cheaper to drive.

The image damage remained: the demand for German electric cars in particular fell. The Asians are happy about this, especially the Chinese, who are now pushing into the market with cheaper, albeit often less technically mature models in order to conquer it.

It is no different with heat pumps. Their deteriorating reputation, which is cultivated not only by satirists but also by politicians, particularly affects German brands such as Vaillant, Buderus and Stiebel Eltron. And in the end it limits their added value, which in turn can cost jobs. In return, cheap homemakers from Asia are crowding into living rooms, Panasonic, Daikin, Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electrics, which have been building air conditioning systems for a long time – also for and in China – because there is hardly any central heating in these countries. In terms of quality, they are approaching European standards more and more quickly.

For German industry, the heat pump is something like the car once was: a great opportunity to become the technology leader in an ecological sector whose global growth is only just beginning. It is unwise that the Germans of all people should squander this opportunity. Therefore, homeowners: buy heat pumps! If not now, then next year or the year after that. Saving for it certainly pays off. For the wallet, but also for the soul, because it feels good to generate your own green warmth.

By the way, if you search for a long time, you will also find a couple of very useful jokes about the heat pump on the internet. Sample: “If you shout ‘heat pump’ three times in the bathroom mirror, Friedrich Merz appears and explains how to operate climate-neutral heating systems with e-fuels, which are so cheap that you can easily build four nuclear power plants in the garden to out, which didn’t come in 2022.”