Upgrade your heating while protecting the environment and your wallet

Upgrade your heating system. Protect the environment and your wallet.

Upgrading your heating system pays off in many ways, from lower heating bills to a lower environmental impact of your property. But replacing your heating system costs a great deal of time and money. Step-by-step instructions and other considerations when updating your heating system.

Upgrading your heating system offers many advantages

Heating systems generally need to be replaced at least every 15 to 20 years, so it's something every homeowner must deal with. This means a large investment but a wealth of advantages.

  1. Lower costs in the medium and long term: By replacing an old heating system, homeowners can significantly reduce heating costs throughout the new systems' service life. This means the investment usually pays for itself in a relatively short time.
  2. Maintain the property's value: A modern heating system enhances the entire building's energy efficiency, which helps maintain the property's value. If the heating system uses renewable energy sources, the property's value can even be increased, if other measures are also introduced.
  3. Protecting the environment: Better combustion processes in modern oil-fired and gas heating systems, the integration of a heat pump, and/or the use of renewable energy sources for heating reduce carbon emissions, create a better ecobalance, and save costs in the long term.
  4. Increased reliability: Over time, equipment is more likely to break down. A new heating system reduces the risk to a minimum.
  5. Laws and regulations: By replacing your old heating system, you can ensure long-term compliance with new legislative requirements.

How long can I continue to run my oil or gas heating system?

There are still no national regulations in Switzerland regarding how long you can continue to run your oil or gas heating system. You are currently not obliged to replace existing oil or gas heating systems. There are, however, more and more incentives to do so, such as the government increasing CO2 levies on fossil fuels. This is because Switzerland is aiming to reach a net-zero target by 2050.

When it comes to upgrading a heating system, the rules are clearer: the cantons' model requirements for energy (Mustervorschriften der Kantone im Energiebereich – MuKEn 2014) stipulate that energy consumption must either be reduced by 10%, or a minimum of 10% renewable energies must be used for heating. This does not include buildings that already meet the Minergie Standard or have attained at least Class D under the CECB (cantonal energy certificate for buildings) with regard to total energy efficiency. Although the new regulations are only in force in some cantons or municipalities, in many cases the implementation of these and similar laws is only a matter of time. For example, in the Canton of Zurich, when oil or gas heating systems come to the end of their service life, they must be replaced by more environmentally friendly systems.

For more information on MuKEn 2014 and the effective date for each canton, see the official website of EnDK (Conference of cantonal energy directors).

The types of heating available for your home

There are different ways to heat your home, depending on your budget and needs.

Oil heating

An oil heating system pumps heating oil into a boiler where it is burned. The resulting thermal energy is used to heat water. The heated water then circulates via pipes through the heating system and thus heats the home. The costs are generally approx. CHF 25,000–30,000.


The oil is almost completely converted into thermal energy, making the process very efficient. In addition, this type of heating has proven itself to be very effective over the years.


High CO2 emissions and fluctuating oil prices. In addition, the oil tank takes up space and some models produce an odor. What's more, legal provisions should make oil heating systems a thing of the past.

Gas heating

The gas is burned, and the resulting heat is used to heat water. The heated water circulates via pipes through the heating system and heats the home. The costs are generally approx. CHF 20,000–25,000.


A very effective and proven heating method. In addition, only a small amount of space is required.


Relatively high CO2 emissions and fluctuating gas prices. The gas heating system needs to be connected to the gas network. Legal provisions are expected to restrict gas heating more strictly in the future.

Heat pump

Heat pumps use thermal energy from the environment to heat the home. They have different names depending on the heat source: water-to-water heat pumps, air-to-air heat pumps or geothermal heat pumps. The costs are generally approx. CHF 20,000–70,000.


Heat pumps are a sustainable heating method that save space and provide heat via renewable energy sources. Heating costs are therefore very low.


The initial costs can be very high and heat pumps cannot be used everywhere, for example due to water protection restrictions.

Pellet heating

Heat is generated by burning pellets. This is used to heat water which then enters the building's heating circuit. The costs of pellet heating are generally approx. CHF 3,000–50,000.


Pellet heating systems have a high heat output but low environmental impact and are therefore particularly suitable for old buildings. In addition, heating costs are low.


Pellet heating systems are not quite as expensive as heat pumps but still cost more than ordinary heating systems. In addition, space is required for storing the wood.

District heating

District heating is based on heat being generated centrally at a different location than the building to be heated. For example, the heat can be a by-product of a waste incineration plant. The costs are generally approx. 100–160 Swiss francs/kW/accounting year for the basic price and approx. 10–20 Swiss Rappen (one-hundredth of a Swiss franc)/kWh for the energy price.


District heating can supply heat to several buildings. The technology is also environmentally friendly. District heating saves space as each building does not require its own heating system.


Homeowners are dependent on the energy supplier. Costs are not completely independent of the energy market. District heating requires a long-term commitment to this technology and for the user to be connected to a district heating network.

Solar thermal energy

Solar thermal energy uses the sun's power to heat the home. To do this, solar fluid is heated in solar panels on the roof and the heat is released to the heating water for the building's heating circuit. The costs are generally approx. CHF 12,000–25,000.


It is a very environmentally friendly method of heating with an inexhaustible energy source. Furthermore, as a homeowner, you are independent of the energy market.


Initial costs are quite high, and efficiency depends on location and climate.

Which heating system is suitable for my type of house?

What is the best energy source for heating? It always depends on your individual circumstances and type of house. For instance, particularly in older buildings with poor insulation and free-standing radiators, the water must be heated up to 90 degrees Celsius in order to bring the air to a pleasant temperature. You can compare the costs for each heating system including installation, equipment, and maintenance using the EnergieSchweiz heating cost calculator.

Essentially, heating systems can be classified according to four house types:

Old building

Old buildings usually have poorer insulation than new buildings. They thus need to be heated more. Due to their performance and environmentally friendly way of providing heat, pellet heating systems are thus suited to this type of home. They generate the required amount of heat.

Multi-family dwelling

Central heating systems such as district heating are well suited to multi-family dwellings, as several households can use this system. Electrical heating systems are also another potential option for individual apartments, but these are not recommended for an entire building due to the high electricity costs.

Single-family dwelling

A single-family dwelling can be equipped with various heating systems. These include heat pumps, pellet heating systems as well as oil or gas heating systems, with the latter not being recommended due to not being environmentally friendly and on account of legal provisions. However, other factors may also dictate the heating system used: In addition to individual heating requirements, the choice of heating system also depends on the building conditions. For example, an air-to-water heat pump cannot be used if appropriate water protection regulations apply in that specific location.

Passive house

Passive houses feature very good thermal insulation and therefore do not require much heating. This makes heat pumps a good choice. Solar thermal or photovoltaic systems can contribute to heating.

How much does it cost to install a new heating system?

The costs of installing a new heating system can range from CHF 20,000 to more than 70,000. However, this is very much dependent on the selected heating system and the building conditions. For example, geothermal heat pumps can initially be expensive due to the need to drill into the ground to access the required geothermal energy. However, the initial costs will pay off over time, mainly due to rising energy prices and legal provisions. In addition, different cantons have different amounts of funding available for replacing heating systems with sustainable options. You can find out how much funding is available in your location at energiefranken.ch.

Update your heating system: step-by-step instructions

It is clear that replacing your heating system has long-term effects both financially and in terms of environmental impact. Homeowners should plan ahead in order to find the ideal solution. Ideally, they should start thinking about renewing their heating system around ten years after it is installed. That lowers the risk of the boiler suddenly failing and leaves enough time to review all the options in detail.

This is particularly true for homeowners looking to switch to renewable energies. Replacing an oil-fired system with a heat pump or installing a solar panel for backup will also require some construction work and building permits. Taking things one step at a time will facilitate the upgrade process.

1. Determine the current status

Before renovations begin, get the best possible picture of the current status. The age and size of the property, as well as the regular operating and maintenance costs for the old heating system, are important factors in this regard. Also note whether the home has underfloor heating or radiators, how many people live there, and about how many days per year the heating system is needed.

In this phase, it is also advisable to look at the property's overall energy situation. Depending on the situation, it can be worth completely renovating the building. The energy required for heating can be effectively reduced via better insulation or fitting new windows.

2. Select the type of heating system

Next, choose the type of heating system. Oil, gas, or renewable energies such as heat pumps or wood pellets – your choice of heating system will play a large role in future maintenance and operating costs as well as the environmental impact of the heating system. It is usually easiest to replace the existing system with a new one that uses a renewable heating source. Often, the use of renewable energies pays off in the form of lower heating costs and lower emissions despite the higher initial investment.

3. Plan your financing

After making the main decisions, you need to consider the financing. Will you need to increase your mortgage to replace the heating and perform other work, or do you have another funding source for this investment? For example, you could withdraw some of your pension capital or use money from an inheritance. Don't forget to look at the tax aspects of your financing plans.

4. Apply for subsidies

The Swiss government offers financial incentives for environmentally friendly solutions and the use of renewable energies when you are upgrading a heating system. With these subsidies, higher initial investments, such as for installing a heat pump or a solar panel system, can be paid off quicker. So it's worth taking a close look at all the options in your local area and applying for the subsidies as soon as possible.

For a full list of the cantonal subsidies, see the building program of the federal and cantonal governments.

Update your heating system in good time

Finally, you must inform the authorities about your renovation and, if necessary, obtain a building permit. Then you're all set to begin your project!

Homeowners are advised to start planning in good time and obtain professional and comprehensive advice on the entire project in terms of investment required and financing. Then you'll be able to enjoy a new heating system at home along with the knowledge that you're helping to protect the environment and your own wallet.

Do you plan to replace the heating in your home?

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