Heating consumes around two-fifths of the energy in Switzerland and is responsible for around one-third of our total CO2 emissions. With climate-friendly heating (and good thermal insulation) you are doing something good for the environment, the climate and your wallet.
Carbon dioxide is the chemical compound of carbon and oxygen with the molecular formula CO2 and is partly responsible for the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is produced, for example, when fossil fuels such as coal, oil or natural gas are burned. Since industrialisation, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen by almost 50 percent. Around two thirds of global warming is caused by CO2.
The share of oil heating and heating oil consumption have been falling in Switzerland for years. Nevertheless, only Luxembourg in Europe consumes more heating oil per capita than we do. 60 percent of our buildings are heated with oil or gas, in Sweden it is only 6 percent. Half of all oil heating systems that need to be replaced are replaced by new oil or gas heating systems that emit climate-damaging CO2.
The comparison for an average single-family house with an annual heating energy demand of 14,400 kilowatt hours shows how differently heating systems impact the climate (source: WWF Switzerland):
Why do so many homeowners replace their old heating systems with new oil or gas heating systems when fossil fuels pollute the environment so much? Some because it is easier to replace a heating system 1:1. Many because they think heating with oil or gas is cheaper. This is true in the short and medium term, because the investment costs for a heating system with renewable energy are higher. Especially if, for example, the heating system and the oil tank have to be dismantled first.
In the long term (time horizon 20 years), however, it is worthwhile to heat with renewable energies because the operating costs and especially the energy costs are lower. Heat pumps, for example, are usually maintenance-free and use electricity for less than 1,000 francs a year to heat an average single-family house. The energy costs for a comparable oil heating system are at least twice as high. And with the total revision of the CO2 law, heating oil would have to become more expensive, then heating with renewable energies would pay off even faster than today.
Most people who replace their oil or gas heating with another heating system want to protect the environment, save the climate or save money in the long term. But there are other good reasons. For example, heating with renewable energies should not only maintain the value of your house or flat, but increase it in the medium to long term. Furthermore, after the total revision of the CO2 law, it should become more difficult to sell a house or flat with an old oil heating system.
The investment costs of heat pumps are high, but their operating costs are low. Heat pumps produce 3 to 5 times as much thermal energy as they draw from the air, the ground or the water. Ground-source heat pumps cost more than air or water heat pumps, but require up to a third less electricity.
Heating with pellets, logs and woodchips has little impact on the climate. The CO2 that is produced during combustion is bound because in Switzerland only as much wood may be felled as will grow back. Piece wood heating systems are suitable for single-family homes, pellet heating systems for single-family homes and apartment buildings with condominiums. The supply would have to find space in the former oil tank room.
District heating networks are widespread in Switzerland. They consist of one or more heat centres. These pipe hot water through insulated pipes into the house, where it is distributed to the individual rooms or flats via heat exchangers and pipes.
Solar thermal systems heat water. Their core piece is the so-called absorber, a black metal body with channels through which water circulates. This water absorbs solar heat and transfers it to the hot water tank via the heat exchanger. Such systems need an alternative heat generator to be able to heat water in the storage tank even in winter or during long periods of bad weather. With solar collectors on the roof, the solar system can complement another heating system, the most suitable being wood heating.
Reading tip: "Solar energy: Is my roof suitable for a solar system?"
Enter the postcode of the building location - and you will receive a listing of all energy promotion programmes in Switzerland. The search includes promotion programmes of the cantons, cities and municipalities as well as campaigns of regional energy supply companies.
Regardless of the heating system, you can reduce your energy consumption and thus your CO2 emissions with three simple measures: