Five minutes with Stiebel Eltron

An interview with Glenn Day, Head of Public Affairs & Engagement

29 Aug 2023

Stiebel Eltron turns 100 next year and has been carving the path to electrification for buildings that whole time; it’s a leadership achievement that we think is worth celebrating. Stiebel Eltron is also a valued Future Homes supporting partner, so we recently caught up with Glenn to find out how electrification comes naturally to this global company, that’s leaving a lasting impact.

Electrification is starting to be embraced by homeowners and building operators across our industry. How does it feel to now see electrification as the better pathway forward?

Our company founder, Dr Theodor Stiebel, was a visionary inventor of electrical heating appliances, providing hot water comfort from day one with a handheld electrical immersion element. He then incorporated this into tanks or cylinders for water heaters we know today. Although he focused solely on electrical solutions, he was ahead of the curve, anticipating the eventual shift towards renewable energy generation. 

In 1976, when the oil crisis hit, a significant portion of the German market was still using oil to heat buildings. STIEBEL ELTRON responded by producing heat pumps. The company continued to develop and improve heat pumps for its product portfolio, while others persisted with fossil fuel appliances.

While the past 30 years in Australia have been a daily battle with inefficient fossil fuel appliances, the pathway to electrification is now very promising. The policies, codes & regulations provides investment certainty for increased production capability and skill training for the workforce. With celebrating 100 years of business, we are ready for the biggest transition since the first industrial revolution.  

How can Stiebel Eltron help homeowners go all electric?

Stiebel Eltron offers a variety of solutions to help homeowners transition to all-electric systems. These solutions include heat pumps and electric instantaneous water heaters, also a range of heating and ventilation solutions. With thirty years of experience in designing and serving our customers, we provide a broad range of products suitable for projects of all sizes. By adopting our solutions, homeowners can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and enjoy a more sustainable and cost-effective way of heating their homes and water. 

Has there been more interest in your electric products of late?

Heat pumps have become increasingly popular and are now being included in designs by volume builders. Apartment developers are opting for electric instant water heaters instead of traditional bulky centralised gas plants. The increase in inbound enquiries is not only from end consumers but also from architects, designers, developers, builders, and engineers, who are all showing a keen interest in this technology. The rise in demand has led to the development of new and innovative heat pump models, which offer even greater efficiency and cost savings. 

What tips do you have for existing homes looking to do a sustainable renovation? 

Replace gas appliances with energy-efficient electrical appliances to reduce energy consumption. For better building efficiency resulting in lower energy usage, seal your home envelope with at least double glazing and insulation. When building an airtight home, proper ventilation is required. Heat recovery ventilation can help maintain efficiencies in the build and help with condensation control. Installing a Solar PV system for self-consumption can power your electrical appliances with less purchased grid energy. Additionally, a home energy management system can help optimise your usage and export.     

The most efficient solution for hot water is a heat pump, which uses at least 70% less energy than electric storage. The saved energy can be used by other household appliances, stored in a battery, or used to power an EV. Homeowners should research the brand's history, support, credibility, and long-term plans before making a purchase decision.     

Any appliance that can be electrified should be done without hesitation. Renewable energy targets are set at both federal and state levels, and electricity emits much less greenhouse gases than gas in the short term.

What role will green gases/hydrogen play in the transition?

In the long term, it may take decades until green gas can be produced efficiently and economically at significant volumes.  

Given that efficient electrical solutions are currently available, the use of green gas for residential purposes is a low priority.  

However, we foresee that there are certain industries  that are difficult to electrify and may require the use of alternative gases. Ultimately though, electrification is the healthier way forward for people and the planet and we’re thrilled to see it being taken up in more homes and buildings.