Joint press release by the Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)

Efficient space and water heaters

New EU regulations for environmentally friendly heaters

a cat is sleeping on a radiatorClick to enlarge
Old heaters have high hidden potential to save energy. New energy labels can guide new purchase.
Source: Tripod /

Four European regulations concerning space heaters and water heaters will enter into force on 26 September 2015. The regulations specify a gradual establishment of limit values for energy efficiency and emissions and introduce energy labelling requirements. Federal Environment Agency President (UBA) Maria Krautzberger welcomes the new regulations: "Ambitious standards for the environmental design of space heaters and water heaters will come into effect for the first time, introducing a key element of effective European energy saving policy." Professor Dr. Ulrich Panne, President of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), emphasised the significance of these regulations to achieving the Energiewende: "This basis in law will help to save energy. BAM has worked to ensure that the technical requirements in this process are demanding but entirely practicable by industry." The European Commission expects the regulations to tap about one quarter of the EU primary energy saving target for 2020.

The new regulations govern both large-scale units and those typically used in single family houses. Space heaters in central heating systems and water heaters with a rated output up to 400 kilowatts (kW) and hot water storage tanks with a volume up to 2000 litres that are put on the market must now meet certain minimum requirements of energy efficiency. Save for a few exceptions, the condensing boilers only will be admissible. Heat pumps, block heating stations, and hot water heaters must meet minimum energy efficiency standards. Additional requirements concerning noise emissions apply to heat pumps.

The regulations also rule that space heaters and hot water heaters with a rate output of up to 70 kW and water storage tanks with a volume up to 500 litres – in other words typical units in single family houses – are labelled with the energy efficiency class information that is familiar on household appliances. When combined with solar heaters or other types of heaters, these combination heater systems will have to bear additional labelling in future.

The EU Commission is strengthening consumers' rights: systems with high energy losses will no longer be on the market, whereas those which meet minimum standards must be labelled with uniform information (also online), including energy efficiency class and the energy consumption of heating units and combination heaters.

There were some 680,000 units on the heating appliances market in Germany in 2014, of which 590,000 were gas and oil-fired boilers, and of which another three-quarters already incorporate condensing appliance technology. Space and hot water heating account for about 35% of final energy consumption in Germany.

Older models of gas and oil-fired boilers in Germany must also be labelled with final energy consumption information starting 1 January 2016, in keeping with the Federal Government's National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency. The Bundestag is still debating a decision on the labelling of existing equipment.

The Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC and the Energy Labelling Directive 2010/30/EU are part of the EU Commission's "integrated product policy" which aims to reduce the environmental impact of products. The Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing (BAM) and the Federal Environment Agency collaborated in the legislative procedure.

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