High costs and an uncertain future: Great demand for energy advice

What do you do in the face of the price explosion of heating oils and natural gas? Which heating system will be the appropriate system in the future? Consumer centers in the Rhineland-Palatinate are currently experiencing an onslaught of unsafe people.

Many people in the Rhineland-Palatinate are concerned about rising energy prices and the uncertain future of heating oil or gas. Many seek advice and assistance from the Consumer Center.

The consultants there can hardly save themselves from inquiries. “We’re at the extreme right now,” energy and construction expert Hans Weinreuter of the German news agency said. Although people’s problems differ in individual cases, it usually comes down to money and a viable decision for the future.

In the case of traditional energy-saving advice, which consumer protection groups have been offering for decades, consultation appointments in some places in the Rhineland-Palatinate are already fully booked until summer. “We are doing energy checks with people at the site. We have had to do this for the past two years aura “It’s a problem because we had to stop,” Winreuter said, which is why there was such a long waiting list.

skill shortage

Consumer advocates – like many businesses in the economy – suffer from a shortage of skilled labour. In classic energy consulting, they work together with experts for a fee. Weinreuter reported that they are “close to the limit” with their own engineering offices. Therefore, their capabilities to provide energy advice to the Consumer Protection Center are limited. It is not easy to find qualified energy consultants, especially in rural areas.

At the same time, consumer advocates have a special advisory service for people who have payment problems in the energy sector. “There’s also growing demand,” said one consumer advocate. “It comes with some delay because many people only react when they receive their final bill and then make high payments back.”

Request legal advice

According to the Consumer Protection Agency, the demand from unstable customers for legal advice has also increased due to the unilateral termination of electricity supply contracts by power reducers. Here, too, “the gates of hell were opened,” he reported.

In the month of March alone, he says, more than 800 inquiries were received to an email address set up specifically for the energy sector. “It’s buzzing nonstop,” he said. Consumer advocates will do everything they can to help people with words and actions. However, they realize that some people are unhappy because they can’t communicate on the phone or don’t get an answer fast enough. “But even we can’t grow staff as quickly as we like.”

Supply security issue

Homeowners considering how to keep their four walls warm in the future are also looking for advice. Background: After Russia’s aggressive war on Ukraine, Germany wants to move away from Russia with energy. From 2024, according to the will of the federal government, only new heating systems operating at 65 percent of renewable energies should be installed.

Then it will not normally be possible to install gas heaters. The framework will also be created for landlords to be able to replace their heating systems that are over 20 years old. In addition, a major offensive of government-funded heat pumps will be launched.

Many residents of the Rhineland-Palatinate are also concerned about these possibilities, according to a Weinreuter report. Tensions are growing not only because of over-maxed gas and heating oil prices, but also because of discussions about a boycott or freezing of Russian natural gas supplies. “People are now in a hurry and want to look for alternatives.” The topic of photovoltaic cells is also important.

The old heating system – what now?

According to the energy expert, the situation is especially difficult for families with an old heating system if it breaks down and needs to be repaired or replaced. He said that the heat pumps are clearly in the right direction. But you need to take a closer look at the initial situation: is there underfloor heating or large radiators? What about building insulation?

“It was said that if the house was not modernized and did not have surface heating, it should be left alone,” Weinreuter explained. “But that is no longer the case, because the technology has advanced. It can work if you replace smaller radiators with larger ones and lower the flow temperature.”

It is also possible to place a heat pump next to an old conventional boiler, provided that it is not too old. This way, the homeowner can temporarily work on two tracks for a few years and use the old gas or oil boiler as a maximum load boiler in the winter months.

Then, depending on the monetary situation, the building can be upgraded in terms of energy in the next few years, for example applying thermal insulation and replacing windows. “Once you do that, you can finally get rid of the old stove and rely completely on the heat pump,” he said. The best option depends on the individual case.

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