Things you need to know about the new heating label!


The efficiency label for new heating systems, water heaters and heat storage systems went into effect on 26 September. Many specialist publications, including our own, have been reporting on the topic for months. Trade associations have also been flooding the market with information, making it hard to keep track. For this reason, we decided to put together a summary of the most important points.

An A++ rating is not automatically the best

The label is intended to create transparency and make heating systems comparable. The transparency part works very well, but it is still not easy to compare systems. Different water heaters, for example, have different tapping profiles, and buyers need to keep this in mind. They are intended to provide information on whether the device is designed for a single dwelling or for a large family. If a person who lives alone purchases an A++ device that is designed for a family, then the system will still not be efficient, despite the label with a high rating.

The situation is similar for heating and storage systems. They need to be designed to meet the actual requirements on-site. Without help from an expert, it is easy to purchase an inappropriate device. A highly efficient low-temperature heat pump with an A++ rating is wasted on an old, unrenovated building.

There are many different labels

The first point mentioned above is not the only reason that it is hard to compare labels. Different labels exist, and some of them use different scales. There are even different package and product labels.

The product label for heat generators:

The simple product label is very similar to the labels already found on refrigerators and washing machines. The difference is that it rates energy generation instead of consumption. Room heaters, combination heaters and water heaters that use oil, gas or ambient heat (heat pumps) will all be labelled.   They will receive an efficiency rating on a scale from G (poor) to A++ (very good). On 26 September 2017, that scale will be shifted upwards. It will then range from D (poor) to A+++. In general, only renewable energy technologies will receive ratings better than A.

The product label for heat storage systems:

Heat storage systems will also be labelled. Unfortunately, things are a bit complicated here as well. Firstly, heat storage systems are categorised using a different scale, which ranges from G (poor) to A (very good). The scale is currently more simple and clear because it does not use multiple plus signs. Furthermore, the scale for storage systems is calculated more strictly than for heat generators. Most storage systems will initially receive an efficiency rating of C. The industry expects the efficiency category B to establish itself for premium products. The highest rating, A, will be very rare at the beginning.

However, this scale is also set to change in the future. Starting in 2017, it will range from F (poor) to A+ (very good). Whether or not the market will ever see an A+ storage system is doubtful.

Heat storage systems only have to be labelled if they have a capacity of 500 L or less, but manufacturers can voluntarily label larger storage systems with capacities of up to 2,000 L if they so choose. The formula used for calculating the efficiency class, however, is the subject of controversy in the industry, particularly for storage systems of more than 1,000 litres.

The package label for combinations of different products

Product labels are a good idea, but modern heating systems consist of multiple components.  The EU has come up with a solution for this as well: the composite label. It is placed on prepackaged sets that include, for example, a boiler, solar collectors and a storage system.

The package label is calculated using various characteristics of the individual components. These include values such as the efficiency rating of the heat storage system and the rated output of the boiler. In addition, products that do not have their own labels can also be included in the calculation. Modern heating system controllers, for example, can improve the efficiency value. Features that have a positive effect on the calculation include controlling individual rooms and weather-guided heating management.

How is the composite label calculated?

The responsibility for the package label lies with the person selling the system to the consumer. This is usually a craftsman. However, there is a wide range of tools designed to minimise the amount of work required to calculate labels. Many heating technology manufacturers as well as retailers have created tools to make life easier for their installation partners.

In addition, the German central association for building technology (VdZ) has set up an online tool at Virtually all German companies active in the heating industry upload the relevant characteristics of their components to this site.

The data is also accessible via a programming interface, so software providers can include a function for the composite label in their software for installers. In many cases, the label can be generated together with the offer for the end customer.

For further information on the Label pack the website is worth a look. The site is part of a project that ESTIF, the European solar thermal industry federation, started a few months ago.

Why is there no label for solar thermal systems?

The European heating label is only intended for independent heat generators. Solar thermal is not covered by this definition, at least not in Northern Europe. Solar thermal energy, however, is taken into account for combined system labels (see point 3). As a rule of thumb, it improves the efficiency rating of a system by one point. A rating might increase from A+ to A++, for example.

The calculation method used in this case is also the subject of controversy. It works well for hot water systems, but the contribution of solar collectors in supporting heating is apparently not adequately taken into account in the calculation method.

The situation is different in Southern Europe. Thermosiphon systems are most commonly installed in this region, which consist of a collector and a storage tank. The hot water they supply is heated using solar energy alone. They will receive their own label ranging from A to G.

Why is there no label for biomass?

Pellet boilers and other biomass heating systems do not have a label yet because Brussels needed a bit more time for this. Biomass heating systems will receive an efficiency label in 2017. Currently information indicates that most pellet boilers will most likely receive an A+. Condensing pellet boilers will probably get an A++. As is the case with other heating technologies, the plan is to expand the scale. In 2019, it will be increased to A+++.

Why are there two classifications for heat pumps?

The labels on heat pumps will have two classifications in most cases. The reason for this is that the efficiency of a heat pump is highly dependent on the required flow temperature. Because of this, there will be a label for a flow temperature of 55 °C and one for 35 °C. Put simply, this means the label will show different efficiencies for heat pumps when used for domestic hot water and underfloor heating.

Jan Gesthuizen