Oil heating systems cause environmental problems and are a main source for greenhouse gas emissions from households. As a survey from eNu shows, many of them have been installed during the 80s and should be renewed. The oil price fluctuates, which causes problems for low income households. Furthermore, Austria pays up to 10.7 billion euros for energy imports. High energy costs and low ecological performance led to a substantial decrease in oil heating over the last decade. Even though renewables such as biomass heaters and heat pumps are very popular in Lower Austrian, 14% of Lower Austria is still heated with oil.
The first step towards a sustainable energy system in the heating sector is to avoid new installations. Since the 1st of January 2019 oil heating is banned in Lower Austria for newly constructed buildings. The next step is to replace existing oil heating systems. Therefore information and motivation activities are focused on existing oil boilers. Information activities and subsidies are very important to reach this target. When an oil heating system is replaced by a renewable heating system in a community-owned building or facility, a bonus of up to 8.000 euros is provided by federal and regional governments.
The Lower Austrian Energy and Environment Agency supports citizens in the replacement of their oil heating systems with renewable heating systems. Therefore, a so-called “carefree package” has been developed and started with a pilot in 8 communities. A “heating coach” for households on renewable heat offers company-independent advice and supports the realization of new renewable heating systems, shares information on public subsidies as well as on the disposal of the oil tanks. When a pellets boiler is installed, this package is completed with a free supply of pellets for one year by the federal state of Lower Austria in cooperation with heating system manufactures, biomass suppliers and installers. Further benefits for heat pumps or district heating instead of an oil heating system are in preparation.
Another focus is on municipalities functioning as role models for households. Already 154 municipalities in Lower Austria have banned oil heating in buildings owned by the municipality. The main purpose of the ban is to strengthen the economic state of the region. The added value for regions is much larger when buildings are heated by renewable energy such as biomass or heat pumps because the energy is produced locally. Furthermore the annual fuel costs for oil heating are much higher than for renewable alternatives such as biomass or heat pumps. In addition, the transformation of heating systems from oil to renewables reduces CO2-emissions.
Never forget: the use of renewables comes second and limiting the energy demand first. Therefore Energieberatung NÖ also provides a free heating monitoring service for municipalities. It monitors and analyses the heating system of municipal buildings for at least one week and reveals the optimization potential. After this, the municipalities receive instructions from an energy consultant for the rehabilitation of the heating system. For citizens, a similar service is provided by the Lower Austrian Energy and Environment Agency for the price of 30€.