Lukas & Hebel offers a true alternative to conventional heating systems, such as gas and oil heating. They have specialized in the installation of pellet heating systems and solar energy since the company was founded, making them a flagship company for the sustainable heating market. Through their constant insistence on wood and solar energy, they contribute to SDG 7, 11, 12, 13, 15.
Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (TUK)
Julia Anna Hufnagel
In 1996, the company Lukas & Hebel GmbH was founded by two equal managing directors Stefan Lukas and Volker Hebel. In addition to the conventional and traditional heating systems consisting of oil and gas heating systems, which the company Lukas & Hebel also installs for its customers, they focused very early on sustainable heat generation, especially through solar energy and renewable fuelwood.
In fact, heat generation by pellet heating systems proves to be carbon neutral and sulfur-free. By switching from conventional heating systems to regenerative heating systems, a significant amount of CO2 emissions can be saved. Another major advantage is that pellets in Germany are exclusively waste products from sawmills. This means that no tree is felled solely for pellet production. Furthermore, the reforestation in Germany exceeds the needs of the wood industry.
From 2026, it will also no longer be possible to install a pure oil or gas stove in a house. Mr. Lukas already mentions alternatives that can be used besides wood for heat generation in a pellet stove, in case there should be a big shift to wood pellets and there would be too much demand for wood. For example, it is possible to produce grape pomace pellets from grape pomace, the waste product that is produced during wine production, which he has also already burned with the same effect in one of his pellet stoves.
The company Lukas & Hebel itself was shaped by several influences, but "The sustainability goal was ultimately born by the company Paradigma," says Stefan Lukas. He particularly emphasizes Alfred Ritter, the managing director of the Ritter Sports Group, and Klaus Tafel, whom he had the pleasure of meeting personally. Together they founded the company Paradigma, which also belongs to the Ritter group. They were pioneers in the question of how to heat a single-family house in a carbon-neutral way. Alfred Ritter and Klaus Tafel took their inspiration from the reactor disaster in Chernobyl, as the nut harvest in Turkey for the Ritter Sports nut chocolate had deep slumps in the harvest and they wanted to displace nuclear power through renewable energies. Another inspiration was the World Climate Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The reason why Stefan Lukas was ignited by the idea to produce heat with wood is due to the fact that wood is a regenerative fuel. "A poplar tree needs 30 years, a beech, oak, maybe 100-120 years [before they die]. […] In the decaying process they release as much CO2 as in the burning process - exactly that's the inspiration! So, people can still pelletize wood to a certain extent and then use it for heating purposes." Fossil carriers such as oil or gas, on the other hand, take 2.5-3 million years to form and are vital for other societally relevant areas, such as pharmaceuticals and mobility, according to Mr. Lukas.
In 2017, 127.3 million metric tons of CO2 were emitted in Germany just to heat living spaces. A further 27.58 million tons of CO2 are attributable to water heating. By using pellet heating systems, this sector can become completely carbon neutral and hence bring us closer to a carbon-neutral future.
Therefore Lukas & Hebel has been passionately committed to pellet heating and photovoltaics for over 20 years. So far they have installed about 1000 solar or domestic hot water systems plus heating support systems and over 450 pellet heating systems. As pioneers in this sector, they set a clear image to their fellow men and women: "Only those who burn themselves can ignite others". Thus, they stand not only for a more environmentally friendly future but also for a more socially responsible one.
Not only does lowering the cost of heating with pellets create added value for many people, but burning pellets from Germany also reduce tensions caused, for example, by oil from the Middle East.
The road to success is paved with sustainability: this could be the sound of a formula aiming to sum up and capture the story of Lukas & Hebel in one sentence.
Founded in 1990 the Lukas & Hebel GmbH main business areas were initially oil- and gas heating systems and sanitary installations. Soon, they decided as mentioned above to make the company more ecologically oriented. Today, the company deals mainly with renewable heating construction, solar technology, and plumbing work.
However, asked about the roots of his company's success, it is a winding and sweat-covered entrepreneurial trajectory that Mr. Lukas will depict. “Three years later, I had hired the first employee. That was a tough struggle. Together with my wife, we asked ourselves questions. When you hire an employee, when you take on responsibility for a person, the question naturally arises: Can I always pay this employee his or her monthly salary? That was a very, very big challenge for me”, he remembers. Over time, the company has grown and now has a dozen employees.
Concerning the pellet heater which makes its strength today, at the beginning "the situation was always alarming for us because of multiple disruptions we were facing. There were moments where people sat cold at home, had no hot water. Nevertheless, we stood our ground " he recalls. "And it paid off. I think that the company Lukas & Hebel is grateful today that we went along these ways." But today, pellet heating systems occupy an important place in the company's order book. Mr. Lukas does not also omit to accessory underline and praise the support that the state provides to households that want to embrace sustainable consumption. “The state makes a high promotion on sustainable products such as Pellet heating systems. Anyone who banishes oil as a fossil carrier from the house and installs a carbon-neutral pellet boiler gets a 45 percent subsidy for the total measure. That, in turn, has shown up so dramatically in our annual sales in 2020 that we have brought in the best operating income in 2020. So, we did over 2 million in sales with our team, and 80 percent of that was made up of wood pellet heating systems. In previous years, where the subsidy was not as high, that was somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of our revenue”, ponders Mr. Lukas. These figures testify to the excellent economic health of the company and the profitability of its business.
As the company grew, they moved to larger offices in Altenglan. Under the leadership of the second generation, Lukas & Hebel intends to expand further in this new region.
So, having experienced a difficult birth and challenging first steps Mr. Lukas and his associates remain faithful to their philosophy of sustainable development, will be able to propel their company into the orbit of success despite the difficulties. The proof that an entrepreneurial philosophy that integrates sustainable development far from being an obstacle is an excellent catalyst for success
The company Lukas & Hebel GmbH made the decision to become ecologically oriented since its earlier hours and started working with energy-efficient and environmentally friendly products.
The company's eco-balance shows about 450 installed pellet heating systems and several hundred installed solar systems for domestic water heating and energy supply. These save several tons of carbon dioxide annually for wood pellets, made from by-products of the wood industry, burn sulfur-free and carbon neutral. Another advantage is that the pellets are produced exclusively from sawmill residues. This means that no healthy trees are felled and processed into wood pellets; instead, residual products of the wood industry are used. "With carbon-neutral combustion, we contribute substantially to the braking of the greenhouse gas effect. When a house is heated carbon-neutrally, it is an added value. Added value for the house, added value for the people who occupy that house."
Every day, the company also invests a lot of time in accompanying its customers in terms of efficient use of installations. "There are people who come quite consciously to us because they know, Lukas & Hebel stands for a good consultation, an authentic consultation. It's nice when people, as creatures of habit, adapt their situation to the weather situation or the sun situation. So that means turning on the dishwasher at noon, washing at noon when the sun is shining, and not at night when the sun is gone. Of course, we then have to explain this to the end customer." Because "the sun doesn't send a bill”.
Finally, he does not forget to regret the instability and armed conflicts that arise around the oil-producing areas on the planet. According to him, resolutely turning back on fossil fuels not only contributes to a reduction of the greenhouse effect but also to some extent, helps to reduce the attractiveness and value of oil. This ultimately leads to the reduction of the hotbeds of oil conflicts and tensions around it in the world.
Stefan Lukas, Founder
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Altenglan, Rheinland-Pfalz, DE
Business Website: https://www.lukas-hebel.de/heizung-heizungsbau.html
Year Founded: 1990
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Lukas & Hebel offers a true alternative to conventional heating systems, such as gas and oil heating. They have specialized in the installation of pellet heating systems and solar energy since the company was founded, making them a flagship company for the sustainable heating market. Through their constant insistence on wood and solar energy, they are doing their part to protect the environment.