Three questions for… Alex Stomper
Bildung Portrait

Three questions for… Prof. Dr. Alex Stomper

Economics, Humboldt University of Berlin

Prof Dr Alexander Stomper is Professor of Financial Economics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In a project funded by the Climate Change Centre, he is asking homeowners about their decisions to replace their heating systems in a climate-friendly way.

Why do you conduct case studies on house owners?

It is estimated that the cost of making older buildings more energy efficient runs into trillions of euros. And it looks as though the bulk of these costs will have to be borne by private individuals: some 80 percent of homes in Germany are privately owned and private individuals also let 60 percent of all rental accommodation.
We often think of house owners as “rich”. But actually, we often encounter the paradoxical situation that even affluent people live from hand to mouth. Their assets are fixed to achieve higher returns and are not available for extensive investments.

How can we increase people’s acceptance of heat pumps and solar panels?

There is some evidence to suggest there could be a social dimension to making buildings more energy efficient. Satellite images show that the number of solar panels on roofs has increased, which suggests that people copy role models in their neighbourhood. But it’s also conceivable that people want to use an investment like this to demonstrate social status. If that were the case, it would be important to think about the heating transition in terms of “districts”. By introducing targeted funding, we could try to create “proliferation hotbeds” in neighbourhoods.

What other ways are there of creating role models?

So-called heat pump parties have a certain charm. People invite their friends and anyone in the area interested to an information event in their homes and then the proud owners of new heat pumps report on their experiences and answer questions.

The interview was conducted in August 2023.

Picture: Birgit Holthaus