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There are numerous reasons for replacing an oil heating system. It could be because the heating system has reached the end of its service life or because you want to help the environment, protect the climate and reduce the burden on your housing budget. Climate change is forcing us to adapt our behaviour and emit less CO2. Heating costs will remain high because of rising CO2 taxes, even if oil prices fall again. That's why homeowners with an oil heating system should slowly but surely start thinking about replacing it.
On average, an oil heating system lasts for 20 years, and a boiler for 15 to 25 years. That's a few years longer than other heating systems. Nevertheless, replacing an old oil heating system with a new one is no longer reasonable or timely, even though it costs less than the alternatives. For one thing, operating costs are high because of high oil prices and rising CO2 taxes. That's why the higher investments in renewable energies pay off more and more quickly. On the other hand, oil heating systems emit too much carbon dioxide and are partly responsible for climate change. That is why more and more cantons are considering allowing new gas or oil heating systems only in justified exceptional cases.
Gas and oil heating systems account for 40 percent of CO2 emissions in the canton of Zurich. With the new energy law, which Zurich voters approved with almost 63 percent in favor, oil and gas heating systems must be replaced, with a few exceptions, by a climate-neutral heating system at the end of their service life from September 1, 2022:
Zurich's energy law provides for only two exceptions: If the switch to renewable energies is technically impossible or if the costs for an alternative heating system are 5 percent higher than for a new gas or oil heating system over the entire service life. There are no exceptions for new buildings. Renewable energies are now standard in new buildings because they provide energy-efficient, cost-optimized and environmentally friendly heating.
With our heating calculator you can find out how much carbon dioxide your heating system emits. You can also compare the costs, service life and environmental compatibility with other heating systems and calculate how quickly a heat pump, for example, pays for itself.
Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular. The high natural gas and especially oil prices have accelerated and strengthened this trend. The investment costs are higher than for a new oil heating system, but the operating costs are lower. This speaks in favor of a heat pump as an alternative to oil heating:
An oil heating system for a single-family house with an annual heating energy requirement of 14,400 kilowatt hours emits 4,680 kilograms of CO2 per year, according to WWF Switzerland. An air-source heat pump (490 kilograms) nine times less, and a ground-source heat pump (380 kilograms) twelve times less.
Wood heaters that burn wood pellets, wood chips or logs hardly pollute the climate. Pellet or log wood heating systems are suitable for single-family homes, and pellet heating systems for apartment buildings with condominiums. This speaks in favor of wood heating as an alternative to oil heating:
A pellet heating system for a single-family home with an annual heating energy requirement of 14,400 kilowatt hours emits 710 kilograms of CO2 per year, according to WWF Switzerland. This is six times less than oil heating.
Heating networks are widespread in Switzerland. The central heating plant transports hot water via insulated pipes to apartment buildings and single-family homes, where it is distributed to the apartments or rooms via heat exchangers and pipes. This speaks in favor of district heating as an alternative to oil heating:
The climate performance varies depending on the heating network. According to WWF Switzerland, the values for district heating are best if the heating network burns wood or uses waste heat from waste incineration plants.
Heat pumps work like refrigerators - with the difference that they produce cold instead of heat. A refrigerator conducts heat outside to cool food, a heat pump uses heat from the environment to heat the house or apartment. In a constant cycle, a liquid refrigerant is evaporated, compressed, liquefied and expanded. In the 3rd "liquefy" step, heat is extracted from it with a heat exchanger and then fed into the heat storage tank to heat the house or apartment. In the case of air-to-air heat pumps, a fan supplies the heat pump with heat from the environment; in the case of air-to-water or brine-to-water heat pumps, a liquid circuit transports the heat from the groundwater or the ground to the heat pump.
The figures in our examples are only approximate values for an average single-family home and a family with average heating energy consumption. Calculate the investment costs for your heat pump with the Houzy heating calculator or ask a certified heating expert from your region if you want to know more.
The Gebäudeprogramm from the Confederation and Cantons promotes, among other things, the switch to heating systems powered by renewable energies, such as heat pumps. How much depends on the heat pump, the power and the location. With our heating calculator, you can calculate not only the investment costs for your heat pump, but also the subsidies you would receive. Depending on the canton, you can benefit from up to 8,500 Swiss francs in subsidies..
Absolutely, from an ecological point of view. The climate impact and environmental damage caused by the operation of an oil heating system are more serious than those caused by the construction, transport and installation of a heat pump. The replacement is also economically worthwhile in many cases. The higher initial investment pays off after just a few years thanks to generous subsidies and lower heating costs, especially in times of high oil prices and rising CO2 taxes. In addition, maintenance and servicing cost less. Whether it is worthwhile for you to replace your oil heating system before the end of its service life depends on several factors. One thing is clear: the older the oil heating system, the sooner it pays to replace it.