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Do we need to change the heating method first? New studies suggest we may not be doing it right

It is widely known that emissions from buildings contribute significantly to global warming. As well as the fact that it is desirable to gradually reduce the consumption of oil and gas. However, less attention is paid to the order in which we should time the individual steps correctly in order to really improve the situation.

Most households start with modernizing the heating in apartments and houses, but according to recent findings, this is not a step we should take in the first place, especially if it is a property that has not undergone comprehensive insulation. The principle applies that without reducing energy consumption with the help of thermal insulation, there will be no improvement in the climate situation. And what should we do differently than before?

If we imagine a city of 50,000 people the size of Jihlava or Děčín and compare how many wind farms are needed for their operation before and after all buildings are insulated, we will be surprised. If the houses are equipped with heat pumps, but not insulated, the energy of 14 wind farms is needed for their operation. However, if the buildings are insulated according to the passive house standard, only one wind turbine is needed.

“Recent statistics of European metropolises show that thermal renovations reduce heat consumption for heating by two-thirds on average. For example, we have in our hands a study from Vienna that demonstrates this. Yes, it is necessary to switch to renewable energy sources, but regardless of the heating method, it is advisable to effectively reduce energy consumption by insulation,” explains Martin Trešl, Czech CEO of Austrotherm CZ, which is a leading European manufacturer of thermal insulation.

Study: One insulated city, one wind turbine

After all, this is also confirmed by a recent scientific study commissioned by the environmental organization Greenpeace. Although the report identifies an accelerated transition from heating with fossil fuels to renewable sources of thermal energy as a basic pillar for improving the climate situation, it also states:

A rapid transition to a CO2-neutral heat supply can only be achieved in conjunction with the second essential pillar, which is to drastically reduce the need for energy for heating and cooling by increasing the number of thermally insulated buildings.” But has this logic reached home owners? “Practice often shows the wrong approach when we try to modernize our house. It is often just a matter of replacing the heating boiler,” confirms energy economist Lukas Kranzl from TU Wien.

He points to the lack of political will in the EU to support all methods that lead to the improvement of emission parameters. He recommends that owners team up with experts when planning to modernize their homes and together establish a process of what renovation steps to take so that they are effective immediately and make sense in the long term.

6 steps to a better life (not only) in the Czech Republic


Insulation of buildings

More than 70% of buildings built in the Czech Republic before 1970 are not insulated at all. At the same time, the thermal protection of buildings has a demonstrable economic benefit for their owners. If only by the fact that the investment in insulation will be returned through the energy saved. The rule is: the insulation of the top floor will pay back after just one year, and the renovation of the facade will pay back within 10 years. In the long term, for example, renovation to the level of a low-energy house can save up to 85% of heating costs, which can mean saved funds for an interesting vacation for the family.


Insulation against heat

When considering energy for heating, one thing should not be forgotten: cooling living spaces also requires energy, more so the more extreme the heat in our climate. The insulation in this case brings the advantage of up to 6 degrees cooler living spaces and at the same time reduces the energy consumption of the cooling unit.


Independence and development

In addition to improving the emission situation, the effort to achieve climate goals offers other great opportunities: independence from rising oil and gas prices, i.e. positive effects on raising the standard of living of the population.


First the worst

When it comes to the rise of thermal renovations, the key link “worst first” has been re-emerging for several years now. The idea is that buildings with the worst energy performance should be renovated with the highest priority, a path that could lead to faster CO2 reductions. This approach is also currently being discussed at EU level.


There’s nothing to wait for. Modernizing the house now pays off for several reasons. In addition to the possibility of receiving government subsidies (such as Green Savings or Fix Grandma’s House), which are higher than ever before, you can benefit from lower heating and cooling costs. Thermal renovation immediately and permanently reduces energy consumption, both fossil and renewable, resulting in economic savings for households while improving emission parameters and securing the future for generations to come.


Recycling and re-use   Insulation products not only help reduce CO2 through their insulating properties, but recycling and re-using them also prevents unnecessary emissions. Most of the newer generation EPS insulation boards are fully recyclable. Waste from production, as well as clean residual material from construction, is returned to the production process, saving more than 50% of CO2 emissions that would otherwise be used for its disposal. And also at the end of the insulation material’s long service life, there are already similar climate-friendly options for ecological disposal. This summer, a plant for recycling EPS construction waste from demolitions, which uses the innovative PolyStyreneLoop technology, was put into operation in the Netherlands. This makes it possible to recover from older demolition materials pure polystyrene usable again in the production process and even bromine from the original flame retardant as an important raw material. this technology could gradually expand to other countries as well.