Starting in 2024, it will be banned from installing heating systems that use fossil fuels. Federal Minister of Economics Habeck plans that every built-in heating system will use at least 65 percent renewable energy from January 1st, 2024. The result was an outcry. Rightly so, because this decision would mean “sudden cardiac death” for many older buildings.

In the distant political universe, the project looks reasonable: Here, the additional costs of a system with a heat pump are estimated at around 10,000 euros compared to gas or oil heating. The system should be able to run completely climate-neutral and even save money in the long run. If you disregard details – such as the fact that the actual electricity that comes from the line and that the pump needs is not yet climate-neutral – the Ukas heat pump definitely has its charm.

At least in theory, in practice it looks very different. A heat pump does not shovel in as much energy as a heater burns at most on the coldest days. It emits less heat. So far, that didn’t matter, because a heat pump was only installed in 1a-insulated houses with low energy requirements. Where it makes sense. Now it is supposed to do its job in every crooked slug.

This will not work. In order for the pump to work, an old house or apartment must be energetically upgraded. Insulation, sealing, windows must be brought up to date. And in many cases also radiators and piping. In the world of vision, it all makes sense. How do we want to become climate-neutral when fossil energy gushes out of every crack in old houses?

In the murky reality, however, we are no longer talking about additional costs of 10,000 euros, but of 100,000 euros and more – just for the energetic upgrade. The rest of the property still remains as it was before. So with bathroom and kitchen from the 1990s, power lines from the 1960s and an unfavorable room layout. If only the gas heater is replaced, you could live on with the old stuff. If an all-round energetic refurbishment is carried out, there is no way around an additional comfort refurbishment.

You can only take responsibility for these investments in real estate where it makes sense to carry them into the future. This calculation will lead to “sudden death” in many older and rather unattractive buildings. You can’t invest that much money in buildings in less sought-after locations, with poor structural fabric or with an unattractive appearance. These buildings are not climate-neutral and many would crumble towards the end. But that will be spread over the next 20 to 30 years.

Now, if the plans come true, a decision has to be made almost overnight: if the boiler runs out on Saturday, a decision must be made in the next week as to whether the investment is still worthwhile. If not, an immediate move is pending. Living without heating and hot water is not much fun. If you invest and it’s not just about replacing the boiler with a pump, the question is how that should be done. During a complete renovation, an apartment has to be cleared – so what to do with the residents?

Of course there will be loopholes. Old systems will then be repaired at great expense for as long as their operation is permitted, instead of being sensibly replaced with a more efficient one. But even so, Berlin would shorten the last phase of life of many properties enormously. The stock that would be out of the market by 2050 due to old age will then disappear from the market in a few years. In the republic, the construction of new apartments cannot already cover the demand, if Berlin’s demolition turbo comes, the gap will increase massively.

On a large scale, older and unattractive units will disappear, ie cheap housing. If it is replaced at all, then by apartments that meet the highest energy standards, i.e. new buildings in the high price segment. Many cannot afford that. Protection promises for tenants are window dressing. If politicians sharply increase the cost of real estate across the board, the price surge will have an impact on housing costs – for owners and renters alike.