Comprehensive review of heating systems for residential homes in the Czech Republic

Post date: Nov 30, 2018 12:24:38 PM

Comprehensive review of heating systems for residential homes in the Czech Republic 

Summer in the Czech Republic does not last long and heating systems in private and apartment buildings are a critically important element. The homes are heated from as early as September to May and even June. The heating systems in the Czech Republic are diverse and change in accordance to the history of the structure, in depending on the type of the house and just how cold the environs of the building get.

The Primary heating systems are:

Central heating

The central heating systems in the Czech Republic were built primarily in the communist period, as the communist government favored centralized services. However in spite of the time that passed since the fall of communist rule in 1989, some of them are still in use to the present day. These systems generally include the following features: a single large heat source, a number of transmission stations and end stations that connect between different consumers. These heating systems mostly utilize fuel, oil, gas or coal.

The primary advantage of these systems is their ease of use. The home consumer simply opens the valve (which is also used for heating and supplying warm water) or call the supplier in case of an accident. If such a system is installed in an apartment building, the residents are not required to sign a contract versus the supplier because the heating is included in a package which includes additional payments (maintenance, cleaning common areas, a maintenance fund and so forth') which are paid by building committee.

The downside of this heating solution is its inefficiency, in other words, massive losses of energy between the energy source and the final consumer. Sometimes as much as 40% of the energy can be lost along the way – which of course comes out of the pocket of the apartment owners. In addition, the maintenance costs of the heating infrastructure and the large scale transference are considered to be expensive, so that the home owners must absorb these costs as well. You will likely find the central heating system in old Soviet era buildings (Sídliště) if no central heating system exists in your building you should not install it – the operation is difficult, and it is not reasonable that you should pay such high rates on your heating energy when other, more affordable types of heating systems are readily available.

For example, the Prague Heating Corporation, Pražskáteplárenská a.s, bills over 650 Czech Korunas on every kilowatt of electricity, VAT included, without taking into account energy losses deriving from the distance between the source and the recipient.

It is very easy to break away from the public network and develop a local heat source in every building – a very common practice in those areas of the Czech Republic which enjoy access to effective electricity networks.

Nonetheless, there are sites where it makes sense to maintain central heating (for example large industrial regions) for one reason – in these places the heat is a beneficial byproduct of the industrial process. An illustration of this is the area of the power station Opatovie, where the final price in 2017 for a kilowatt of electricity was around 500 Czech Korunas. However, as a general rule, the prevailing trend is to minimize central regional heating systems and to prefer more efficient local solutions.

Central building based heating

A similar solution to regional central heating is a central building based heating. For the resident, it is much the same: heating and heated water is supplied just as in regional central heating. The difference is that the energy source is located in the building itself, usually in a special boiler room in the basement of the building. The significance is that energy losses are considerably lower in comparison to the transmission of heated water/ steam from a central location many kilometers away.

The energy losses in the interior pipes of the building are barely felt by the residents since the HOA of the buildings receives fuel for a relatively low price given the massive amounts they purchase each year. In some cases the issue of the heating is handed over by the HOA to special committees in the framework of outsourcing, but the local energy source is retained.

If the management of the system is done properly, the energy prices in such a setup should be lower than in regional central heating. In any event, the pricing calculations should include the initial investment in setting up the building central heating up, and the cost of maintaining the system. This type of heating is primarily used in newer buildings, but it is also sometimes used in old brick buildings or Panelák.

Individual heating

Individual heating is used both in private homes and in apartments in large buildings. In order to do so one can use two sources of energy, but for the most part only a single source (mostly in private homes) is used, due to the regulations in the field of fuel storage. We will shortly expand on this. 

Usually, personal heating results in the lowest energy losses, but home owners must pay higher retail prices for the energy source: either fuel or electricity. In any event, the primary problem is maintenance, because the cost of repairs and replacement parts is levied on the homeowner and a professional is required to make repairs. Furthermore, the chimneys and the boiler must occasionally be inspected, in order, for example, to examine the levels of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

Solid fuel combustion systems

These systems produce energy by burning solid fuels such as wood chips or blocks, with their combustion heating up water. The warm water is transferred to radiators, water pipes or containers. In these systems fuel expenses are relatively inexpensive but the setup costs are higher. In addition, since storage of fuel is required in this case – such systems are not suitable for apartments. Furthermore, the property owners must ensure the supply and quality of the fuel in accordance to the specifications of the boiler: it must be fed with specific types of fuel, sometimes several types or a specific mixture. It is important to note that certain modern devices can feed themselves with fuel automatically, but they still must be manually filled, and their operational mode must be defined.

Gas combustion boilers / heaters

This technology is similar to the solid fuels combustion heaters, but it is more convenient, for no storage of fuel is required (except for LPG based solutions that are primarily used in homes which are not connected to natural gas networks) or manual control and fueling. There are three primary types of devices of this sort:

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are systems that operate on the principle of using air conditioners solely for heating. These systems include three types of devices with 2 main advantages:

Group 1 – air to air solutions

The heating devices in this group are in fact heat exchange air conditioners. In other words there is no use of internal radiators, so that the rooms are warmed solely by heated air leaving the devices. In the summer these devices can be used as air conditioners.

These systems are primarily used on properties that are not populated all year round (such as vacation homes), because they are highly efficient in freezing weather. These systems must be backed up with other heating systems, such as electric stoves. These heating systems are the only type suitable for use in apartments because they do not require extensive external infrastructure.

Group 2 – air-water solutions

In these systems the heat exchange is warmed by the air coming from without, but the heat s distributed by water to the radiators or pipes to heat the floor. The advantage is that the system can be connected to the existing piping and thereby save work hours. The costs of heating utilizing this system are low, but the purchase price of the system is rather high. In addition, the system is not particularly efficient in freezing situations.

Group 3 – water – earth solutions

This solution is much like the water- air solutions with one key difference: the location of the heat exchange. Unlike the air-water systems, in the heat exchange here is located deep in the ground, where the temperature is stable all year around. The significance of this is that the system is far more effective in freezing weather, which is precisely the time when it is most needed. On the other hand, this solution is considered to be the most expensive of all the heat pumps.


For day to day use, fireplaces are primarily an aesthetic addition or a supportive solution for another, automated, system. While certain fireplaces include a heat exchange that can be directly attached to a radiator by a water pipe, for the most part the heat is directly distributed by heated air manufactured by the fire.

Solar collectors

Unlike photo voltage panels, these systems do not create electricity, but use the rays of the suns to heat water. In fact, these systems can be used both to supply heated water, and to heat the home. There great advantage therefore is in the fact that sunlight is free and that there are no heating costs other than the costs of installation and maintenance.

Nonetheless, these systems are not sufficiently powerful to provide heated water and heat apartments 24/7 (particularly in the cloudy Czech winter). A supportive solution of some type is required. In fact, solar collectors usually serve to reduce energy consumption and heating costs, rather than providing a comprehensive solution. Furthermore, since a large roof space is required to install the system – this solution is particularly suited for private home owners.

Local electric heater

This is supposedly the simplest and least expensive solution which requires the lowest costs of installation and technical requirements (other than powerful fuses). In a local electric heater use is made only of electricity, so that it is far less efficient than heat pumps. The meaning is that heating prices in this case are considered high.

Since local electric heaters are not very efficient, they do not serve as a primary source of heating but only as a supportive solution (for example of properties that are not populated year round). This category also includes heating with various types of infra-red panels.

Floor – embedded heating

This type of heating is considered exclusive but is usually not used as the only heating solution but is combined with various other radiators. Floor embedded heating can be performed solely by electricity or be part of a more complex solution such as a generator linked to a water based heating system.

Accumulation electric boiler

This solution includes a water tank equipped with an electric spiral that warms the water within it, so that it is primarily intended to supply heated water. Since the energy costs required from using these systems are relatively low for local electric heaters - they are used primarily during the nighttime in order to utilize the low electric billing rates during those hours.

Since this is a simple solution, it is frequently used as a source for heated water in addition to solar systems. It is common in many apartments in Prague. Sometimes the water tank can be heated by a gas based boiler which is used as a backup when the central heating system is inactive (for example in the summer months).

Who pays for the heating?

In most cases the costs of direct heating are paid directly by the resident or the lessor to the HOA (except in short term rental properties). If use is made of personal heating units the resident is responsible for signing an agreement versus the energy/ fuel supplier and pay for whatever he consumed.

Sometimes, the contract versus the supplier does not change (when the property owner is the one who signed the contract versus the supplier), so that the lessor pays the energy fees in addition to the apartment rental fees. If the apartment is used for short term rentals, the heating costs are paid by the owner unless the rental arrangements are carried out by a management company. In these cases, the management company pays the fee to the property owners who are signed up with the energy suppliers.

It is important to note that Czech Republic law defines the maintenance costs of the heating systems (periodical checkups, repairs and so forth) as paid by the property owner, for it defines the heating system to be an inseparable part of the property.

On the other hand – it may seem preferable for property owners to equip the apartment with heating solutions with low installation and maintenance costs, so that the price of the heating price itself is insignificant. On the other hand, there may be pressure on the part of the tenant to reduce the rent for most tenants calculate the final costs. Furthermore, in recent years more and more people have begun to take the ecological impact of residence into consideration, so they will prefer properties with higher energetic efficiency.

Energy Performance Certificate (PENB)

Energetic performance of buildings related to the issue of heating systems. A new regulation requires any revenue generating real estate property to include a PENB grade certified by a qualified inspector (The grade ranges from A – maximal energy performance, to G – low energetic performance). Falling to provide such a certification, automatically renders the property a PENB G level property.

This ranking system is similar to the energetic ranking provided in the European Union to various electrical devices and its purpose is to motivate the property owners and contractors to build and repair the properties in a manner that will result in maximum energetic efficiency. Since such ranking takes into account renewable energy parameters as well, one should see it as a warning to the property owners and future residents : while it is possible to save money by renting/ purchasing a low energy performance property, this means higher bills and indirectly wastage of resources.

A table summarizing the types of energy sources for heating in the Czech Republic

To read additional important information before you purchase real estate properties in the Czech Republic – click here.