A man sits in an armchair surrounded by several radiators.
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Renovating

Replacing gas heating: reasons, costs and subsidies

Thomas Bott

Energy-efficient renovation of a house is a good way of saving costs and ensuring greater sustainability. The heating system plays a major role in this, as it makes a significant contribution to energy consumption levels. In a single-family house, the heating should be tailored to the needs and consumption of the household. Gas is still a frequently used energy source. In certain circumstances, however, anyone who has this type of heating system should consider replacing it.

Why you should replace your old gas heating

There are several disadvantages to aging gas heating systems. Compared to newer systems, they are not only more susceptible to faults, but also far less efficient. This is primarily due to their outdated technology.

A constant temperature boiler (see below) often generates much more energy than necessary – resulting in unnecessarily high heating costs. The additional burden on the environment is also a major drawback. The situation is similar for low-temperature boilers: although they run at a lower temperature, they remain switched on permanently. Both types are therefore no longer state of the art.

Another reason for replacing gas heating may be because damage has already occurred. Old boilers will start to rust at some point, which jeopardizes their operational safety. Repairs are generally very expensive or even impossible. In this case it is vital to replace the whole system. The environmental aspect also plays a role. Older heating systems are not only uneconomical due to their lower efficiency, but also emit more pollutants.

A workman fixes a new radiator to the wall.

It is often possible to keep your existing radiators despite installing a new boiler – so you don’t necessarily have to change everything at once.

Gas heating systems: the latest technology

Modern gas heating systems rely on a condensing boiler. This type of heating system achieves a degree of efficiency of around 95 percent. This is a significant increase compared to low temperature boilers (85 percent) and constant temperature boilers (70 percent). These newer systems with a condensing boiler are therefore much more efficient. They also utilize the condensation heat contained in the waste gas. This allows you to heat more sustainably and in a more environmentally-friendly manner.

Points to bear in mind when replacing your gas heating system

Since older gas heating systems usually take up more space than modern ones, you won’t need to change anything in the location where the boiler is fitted. However, it is important to ensure that the appropriate gas connection is available. If you do not have a connection for receiving natural gas by pipeline, and if it is not possible for you to install one in the future, you will need a tank for liquid gas. You may also need to have your fireplace replaced. This is due to the high concentration of condensate, which can cause corrosion and holes in the material.

When installing a new gas heating system, it may be worth reviewing the house insulation at the same time, and improving it where necessary. Good insulation prevents heat loss. You will ultimately save additional heating costs.

The cost of a new gas heating system

It is possible to replace an existing gas heating system at relatively low cost. You will need to set aside around 5,000 francs for a condensing boiler. Expect to add about the same amount again for dismantling the old boiler and installing a new one. If you need to renovate the fireplace (see above), this will cost around 3,000 francs.

Taking into account the savings achieved in relation to the old heating system, the replacement will pay for itself after about 15 to 20 years.

A person turns a thermostat.

On older heating systems, the inhabitants still have to manually turn the thermostat to night setback. This is no longer necessary on a modern boiler, where you can simply choose the corresponding setting.

Why it’s not worth switching to an oil heating system

According to the Federal Statistical Office, most households in Switzerland heat with oil. But oil heating is considered obsolete, partly on account of the finite nature of the fuel. Gas is more future-proof due to the possible production of biogas. In addition, the current price trends for natural gas are much more stable than for oil.

  • Gas heating
  • Oil heating
  • Acquisition costs
  • around 6,000 francs
  • around 10,000 francs
  • Purchase price (annual average)
  • 0.08 francs per kWh
  • 0.07 francs per kWh
  • Maintenance per year
  • around 700 francs
  • around 700 francs
  • CO₂ emissions
  • around 0.2 kg per kWh
  • around 0.28 kg per kWh

Hybrid systems: equipped for the future with two energy sources

The decision to install a new gas heating system can also be the starting point for moving to a hybrid heating solution. Gas heating can easily be combined with secondary energy sources. Connecting a solar heating system that uses solar energy is particularly popular. The system will then be able to cover about half the heating requirements with renewable energies.

A heat pump represents an alternative hybrid technology. A basic distinction must be made between air-to-water heat pumps, brine-to-water heat pumps and water-to-water heat pumps. The heat pump can also take on a high proportion of the heating capacity, resulting in lower costs.

A man checks analogue displays on a heater using a digital system.

Modern gas heating can easily be combined with other heating systems. In the ideal scenario, this leads to greater efficiency and more environmentally-friendly operation.

Subsidies in Switzerland

If you simply want to replace the gas heating system in your single-family house with a newer model, there are unfortunately no subsidies available. The situation is different in many cantons if you combine your new gas heating system with a solar system or heat pump. Thurgau, Valais and Bern pay a one-off subsidy of up to 1,500 francs for a solar heating system installed in addition to a gas heating system, for example.

Other heating systems: alternatives to a new gas heating system

Even though gas and oil dominate the market for heating systems in Switzerland, there are many other technologies that could play a major role in the future. These are often superior in terms of cost, service life and environmental sustainability. Consult our comparison to decide which heating technology is a possible option for you. You can find more on this topic in our overview of current heating systems, which explains the main advantages and disadvantages of each technology.

Conclusion: it’s worth replacing an old gas heating system

If you still have an older gas heating system in your home, there are many good reasons for replacing it. We recommend combining gas and solar heating, as a future-proof solution which also qualifies for subsidies in many places.

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