(Thomas Decker and Klaus Menrad, House owners’ perceptions and factors influencing their choice of specific heating systems in Germany, Energy Policy 85 (2015), pp 150-161 –
“[P]urchasing a specific heating system is a complex and difficult decision for house owners. This is mainly due to the fact that this decision is not often taken in the house owner’s lifetime and most of the variable costs are unknown at the time of researching different options for a heating system.’
The study looks at a sample of German house owners who had bought oil heating, gas heating, wood pellet heating or a heat pump within the last five years. It found that the most important factors in determining the heating system bought were (i) the person’s overall “evaluation” of the fuel in question and (ii) their “ecological attitude”. Estimates of how the prices of different fuels were likely to develop in future did not seem to be an important factor.
Purchasers of oil heating placed particular importance on economic aspects. Purchasers of gas and wood pellet heating were particularly likely to have neighbours using the same fuel. Ecological attitudes were especially important in the case of purchasers of wood pellet heating; they did not place great importance on economic factors. For heat pumps ecological factors were present but not to the same degree: comfort and convenience were more important.
The authors point out that only 30% of private households in Germany live in a house that they own, so it is important to know about the factors behind heating system decisions in other tenures.