Biathletes have heat pumps in their sights

More and more top German athletes are using efficient green technology to heat their homes – the father of the biathlete Andi Birnbacher is a driving force when it comes to saving energy.

Father Hans-Peter Birnbacher, Andi Birnbacher (with his gun) and Stiebel Eltron employee Michael Eder (from right) in the boiler room housing the heating system with heat pump and combination cylinder.

They have their eyes firmly on the target, they control their breathing – but they have especially good control over their energy consumption: the German biathletes. Since there’ll be no chance of winning if they run out of energy. That is why they know how to manage their energy sensibly and efficiently – and not only when skiing the trails. Andi Birnbacher, a top biathlete from the Bavarian town of Schleching, is currently having a heat pump installed in his home for the second time, so that he can make use of green energy for heating and hot water. “There isn’t a better way of heating your home in our area and protecting natural resources than by using a heat pump”, his father Hans-Peter says. He has had a heating and plumbing business in the town in the Chiemgau for over 35 years. Back in 2013, he installed a Stiebel Eltron heat pump in a building leased by Andreas Birnbacher, which was a refurbished old building. Now Andi Birnbacher is in the process of building a new home himself for his family – and, after the excellent experience he had, he is once again relying on technology from Stiebel Eltron. He will again be having a heat pump installed that uses energy from groundwater.

The new house, built completely of wood and in mortarless construction, is about 190 square metres in size, the heat load is 7.4 kW. A specialist Bavarian contractor drilled the 14-metre-deep extraction well, from which the roughly ten-degree-warm water is pumped. Thermal energy is extracted from the groundwater using a heat exchanger and is used by the heat pump to supply heating and hot water. Once the water has cooled down, it is returned into the subsurface via a return well. “This heat pump produces four parts of heat energy from one part of electricity”, explains Michael Eder, Stiebel Eltron’s heat pump expert who is acting as the local adviser to the Andi Birnbach’s father. As the groundwater maintains a relatively constant temperature all year round, the heat pump operates at a constantly high rate of efficiency, which helps protect the environment and natural resources. “Andi – like many other customers I have – has had a very positive experience with this technology”, emphasises Hans-Peter Birnbacher. “That’s why it was obvious that he just had to have another heat pump in his new house.”

And when it came to further plans for designing the house, great store was set on sustainability and environmentally friendly technology. There is a ten-square-metre solar thermal system on the roof to collect solar heat. The accumulated heat is stored in a 1,000-litre SBS Solar combination cylinder from Stiebel Eltron, where hot water is supplied instantaneously. What is more, lighting in the Birnbacher Junior home is provided by LED lamps and the insulation is made of wood fibre. “It goes without saying that sustainability is quite important” explains the 33-year-old army athlete, “ultimately we wanted to build a modern, sustainable house and not to take a step backwards again.”

Many biathletes save energy resources

Hans-Peter Birnbacher not only guided his son on the way to becoming a biathlete with his mate Fritz Fischer, the former world-class biathlete and national coach; he has also provided other athletes with green energy: he installed a Stiebel Eltron heat pump for Olympics champion Michael Greis and biathlon legend Fritz Fischer, among others.