Towards the end of the REPLACE project, a survey was conducted in Austria to gain a better understanding of the current market situation for household boiler replacements. The survey was carried out as a combination of online and telephone interviews using the same questionnaire. The target group was homeowners who used oil or gas heating systems. The survey was conducted in the federal states of Salzburg, Styria, and Upper Austria. At the beginning of the survey, a screening process was conducted to ensure that the respondents belonged to the population of interest. The proportion of homeowners who use oil or gas heating systems was around 40%, and the remaining 60% were not surveyed. Ultimately, a total of 297 households were surveyed.
General results of the survey
The results show that firewood (16%) and solar thermal systems for hot water (11%) are the most commonly used supplementary heating forms. For homeowners using oil or gas heating systems, solar hot water systems (49%) and heat pumps (39%) were the most popular alternatives for switching to renewable energy. 88% of respondents agreed that regional renewable energy should be used more, and around 80% felt that it was important to contribute to climate protection and reduce Austria’s dependence on oil and gas from other countries.
Of the sample, 50 % of the heating systems were over 15 years old, and 19 % were over 25 years old.
5 % were in the process of replacing their heating system, and 43% were planning to do so. Of those who currently do not plan to replace their system (52 % of the total sample), two-thirds could imagine doing so at a later time.
Insight into houseowners that do not want to switch at all or only at a later date
The most common reasons for delaying the replacement were that the investment should be made as late as possible or that the current heating system had not been in operation for long and a replacement was not yet worthwhile. Additionally, respondents indicated that their savings were currently needed for other things, or they did not have the necessary funds for the replacement. 28 % of those who would be willing to exchange at a later time stated they were waiting for a decline in the prices of the systems/technologies. Higher subsidies would motivate 54 % of those respondents that do not want to change their heating system to renewables to make the switch. Those who could not imagine switching to renewable energy cited being satisfied with their existing system or being too old to make the switch as the most important reasons. The lack of savings or other priorities for available financial resources, as well as insufficient subsidies, were also important reasons.
For those who plan to or are in the process of replacing their heating system, environmental protection and reducing oil-gas dependence were the most important motivations for the replacement, with about 50 % of these households stating each reason (multiple responses were possible). Heat pumps and solar hot water systems or solar heating support were the most popular options for a new heating system.
Motives of houseowners willing to switch their heating system
Overall, 97 % of those who plan to or are in the process of replacing their heating system would be ready to switch to renewable energy. Important factors influencing the decision to replace the heating system were their own research, the opinions of co-decision-makers (family, relationship partner, etc.), and positive experiences of acquaintances.
Of those who plan to replace their heating system, 75 % would implement the replacement immediately if the subsidies for insulation and heating systems were more attractive. 71 % want to be better informed and advised. 70 % find the current prices too high, and 46 % are somewhat deterred by the time and coordination required.
Concluding, two-thirds of those who plan to or are in the process of replacing their heating system would be willing to pay slightly more for a standardized all-round carefree boiler replacement package in which all necessary craftsmen are coordinated through a single point of contact.
The results show that for those households that are already considering a change of heating system, renewable energies are already very much in the foreground and a change away from oil and gas is being sought. However, these households only made up about half of the sample. Those who do not want to change yet want to make the most of the long service lifetime of their systems, and their older age and lack of financial means also represent a relevant barrier to changing the heating system. Additional subsidies and comprehensive offers such as an all-round carefree package for boiler replacement offer opportunities to motivate more people in this population group to switch to renewable energies.