Sustainicum Collection

Consus The aim of the project is to establish a regional science-society network for sustainability innovations in Albania and Kosovo in order to strengthen the connection and collaboration of institutions in the field of higher education, research and practice.

Resource facts

  • Independent of the number of students
  • 4-7 lecture units
  • English, German

Resource Description

Instruction file

Additional attachments

Thermal efficiency of heating and solar energy systems(Resource ID: 178)

The building block "Thermal efficiency of heating and solar energy systems" deals with measuring energy and the numerous mechanisms leading to thermal energy loss. Experiments are used to measure the thermal efficiency of a model combustion system, the CO2 concentration in exhaled breath and the heat output of a candle.

This building block builds on the group of building blocks on energy. Students are expected to know the basic terms concerning energy and the interrelations of environmental issues.

The building block "Thermal efficiency of heating and solar energy systems" promotes the understanding of how heating systems work, illustrates how energy and thermal energy loss are measured and how thermal efficiency can be determined. The aim of the building block is to draw attention to the fact that some energy transformation systems (heating systems or solar energy systems) do not always work properly. (Partially) defective systems use more energy, which could easily be avoided without major investments - if only they would be recognized as (partially) defective. Inefficient systems can be detected by expert observations or by determining the thermal efficiency of the system. This building block can be used as a basis to detect inefficiencies. Efficient dimensioning of boilers is also discussed. Over-dimensioning – which is the main cause of inefficiency – can be detected by the application of a quick and easy test.

The building block should help students to understand energy related issues in their personal environment and to recognize and develop potential energy savings.

Table of contents

  • Efficiency and sustainability
  • Measuring energy flows
  • Thermal energy loss mechanisms in heating systems
  • Problems caused by over-dimensioning
  • Efficiency of wood-burning appliances
  • Efficiency of solar thermal energy


It is recommended to use the attached material to present the topic with interactive experiments (about 4 hours). There are notes on every slide that provide background information and instructions.
It is also possible to use individual parts or experiments of the building block (e.g. CO2 concentration, heat-output of a candle, thermosiphon circulation, etc.). The presentation provides a basis that can be built upon.

Intended effects on students

  • Attract attention to heating systems and how they work.
  • Recognize, prevent and eliminate inefficiency of systems.

Material, resources

The presentation (including comments and notes, which can be used as a basis for lectures) is available on the platform. Each lecturer may focus on different aspects, add information to the presentation or adapt the presentation to his/her specific needs.

Required Hardware

Candle, scales, blowtorch, model to measure thermal efficiency, CO2 indicator, thermography camera

Contact details for borrowing physical devices
Learning Outcomes
- Better understanding of heating and solar energy systems
- Measuring of energy flows, losses and thermal efficiency
- Recognize and prevent inefficient over-dimensioning.
Relevance for Sustainability
A better understanding of heating and solar energy systems promotes efficient use and helps to recognize inefficient and defective systems. Measuring thermal efficiency can ensure efficient system use. Increasing the efficiency of energy use is always beneficial for sustainability.
Related Teaching Resources
    Preparation Efforts
    Sources and Links

    Recknagel, Sprenger, Schramek: Taschenbuch für Heizung und Klimatechnik 2013/2014, Oldenbourg Industrieverlag

    Hans-Peter Ebert: Heizen mit Holz in allen Ofenarten, 2001, Ökobuch

    A. Goetzberger, V. Wittwer:   Sonnenenergie , 1989, Vieweg+Teubner Verlag

    W. Weiß, A.Themeßl: Solaranlagenselbstbau, 2009, Ökobuch Verlag

    Bmwfj: Energiestatus Österreich 2012, Bmwfj

    Funded by
    Funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research within the framework of the call "Projekt MINT-Massenfächer" (2011/12)

    Comments Write Comment


    Mag. Dr. Robert Weger


    Robert Weger
    This teaching resource is allocated to following University:
    BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna
    Firma Innovative Elektronik


    Creative Commons

    Teaching Tools & Methods

    • Written material
    • formteaching_experiment