Gas heating or heat pump

Gas heating or heat pump

An aid to decision making

Gas heating and heat exchangers are the most popular heating systems in new buildings. With gas heating, you are relying on a reliable technology that has been established for decades. Heat pumps are the modern, environmentally friendly alternative. But which heating is better suited to your building and your needs – gas heating or heat pump? Does a combination of the systems to create a hybrid system also make sense? To answer these questions, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of heating systems, their possible combinations and subsidies.

Market leader: The heat pump is in first place in new buildings

While only 1% of new buildings were equipped with heat pumps in 2000, this share increased to more than 43% in 2018. In new buildings, the heat pump has definitely won over builders, closely followed by gas heating.

Gas heating or heat pump: what are the differences?

Heat pumps and gas heating systems both heat the building, but they operate according to different principles. Gas heating generates heat by burning fossil fuels.

A heat pump, on the other hand, uses environmental heat and raises its temperature level with the help of electrical power.

Gas heating at a glance

Modern gas condensing boilers are very efficient. They burn the gas and transfer the heat produced to the heating water. Combustion exhaust gases are released in the process. Thanks to the condensing technology, the energy contained in the exhaust gases can also be exploited to heat the water.
  • Advantages of gas heating

    • Reliable: Gas heating is a proven and reliable technology.
    • Inexpensive: Gas heating is cheaper to buy and operate than other heating systems.
    • Efficient: Modern gas condensing boilers are efficient. They convert almost all of the energy contained in the gas into heat.
    • Compact: A gas heater doesn’t take up a lot of space. In addition, no tank is required when using natural gas.
    • Combinable: Gas heating can be easily combined with other heating systems, for example a heat pump or solar heating.
    • Subsidies: Under certain circumstances, you can receive funding for the installation of a modern gas heating system with condensing technology. 
  • Disadvantages of gas heating

    • Required gas lines: For natural gas heating you need a gas line to the building. If none is available, a liquid gas tank must be installed. This incurs additional costs and requires more space.
    • Not climate-neutral: Modern gas heating systems work efficiently but are not climate-neutral. After all, gas is a fossil fuel.
    • Dependency on the gas price: The heating costs depend on the fluctuating gas price and therefore cannot be planned in advance.

The heat pump at a glance

A heat pump extracts heat from the following environmental sources: groundwater (water-to-water heat pump), ground (brine-to-water heat pump, also called geothermal or ground source heat pump) and ambient air (air-to-water heat pump, also called an air source heat pump).

The heating system brings the ambient heat to a higher temperature in order to heat the building. This is achieved through a cyclic process in which some electrical power is also required.
  • Advantages of a heat pump

    • Environmentally friendly: The heat pump is very easy on the environment. Apart from the electricity for the compressor, it only uses renewable energy. With a photovoltaic system, you can also produce the electrical power yourself and heat CO2-neutrally.
    • Low heating costs: The costs for the electric drive are low.
    • Compact: A heat pump is not much bigger than a gas heater and therefore also space saving.
    • Low maintenance: Heat pumps have very low maintenance requirements.
    • Subsidies: You will receive attractive state subsidies for installing a heat pump.
    • Combinable: Heat pumps can be easily combined with other heating systems.
  • Disadvantages of a heat pump

    • High purchase costs: A heat pump is quite expensive to buy compared to other heating systems. On the other hand, the operating costs are low.
    • Required permit: Some heat pumps, such as geothermal heat pumps, require drilling. You need a permit for this.
    • Dependency on the electricity price: You are dependent on the current electricity price – unless you generate the electricity yourself.

Which heating system is suitable for your building?

A heat pump is particularly suitable for houses that are very well insulated. Since this is often not the case with existing buildings, there are two sensible options in these buildings:

  • a gas heater or
  • a combination of gas heater and heat pump

With hybrid heating, the heat pump takes over the basic supply of heat. The gas heating switches on at peak times when the heating power of the heat pump is insufficient.

Nowadays, a new building is very well insulated. A heat pump is therefore recommended here, especially in combination with surface or underfloor heating. What if you don’t want a geothermal heat pump because it requires drilling or you can’t get a permit?

Then you can always switch to an air heat pump. A hybrid system is also an option in new buildings.


Gas heating is still justified in existing buildings. In order to plan for the future, however, you should also consider purchasing a heat pump.


The environmentally friendly heat pump is recommended for new buildings. The higher purchase costs are quickly amortised thanks to state subsidies and lower heating costs.

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