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Is the plug being pulled on gas boilers?

A report published this week says Britain won't meet climate change targets without a revolution in the way we heat our homes. It follows a government announcement which could see gas boilers banned from our homes. We look at what this means for homeowners and the likely costs.

gas boiler

Where did this announcement come from?

Before this month’s Extinction Rebellion protesters glued climate change to the forefront of our minds, the former Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced a Future Homes Standard. It paved the way for legislation to be passed to ban gas boilers from new homes from 2025 by ensuring they all have low carbon heating.

The Government then passed legislation in June committing to being carbon neutral by 2050. But just to meet a previously less ambitious target (of reducing carbon emissions by 8% by 2050) some 20,000 homes will need to switch to low carbon heating between 2025 and 2050! So the pressure is on.

Ahead of the Conservative Party Conference this autumn, the Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said: “I want new homes to play their part in tackling climate change and leaving the environment in a better way for future generations. That’s why I am introducing a Future Homes Standard which ensures that no new home is built from 2025 without the best levels of energy efficiency and low or zero carbon heating.

“And because I want to lead the world in this area, I am implementing the first steps on this revolutionary road as early as next year.”

So what does this mean and how much will it cost?

This could mean a ban on boilers in new build homes as early as next year. Existing homes and newly-built non-domestic buildings will be exempt, for the time being.

According to the government’s own report, switching from gas boilers to alternative sources could add up to £4,847 to the price of new home. Although energy bills should get cheaper eventually.

Greener options for heating new homes include: solar roof panels powered by sunlight; heating run on biogas extracted from natural sources including agricultural waste, food waste and sewage; and, heat pumps that convert air from outside into heat.

There are however concerns that heat pumps may be slow to warm up properties. Other critics say more needs to be done to better insulate homes so we are using what we do produce more efficiently.

Do central heating boilers impact on climate change?

Yes. And the scale of the impact is shocking.

13% of Britain’s carbon footprint is caused by the way we heat our homes. The carbon footprint from the UK’s 27 million homes is actually the same amount of pollution caused by our 31 million cars.

And almost 95% of our homes are powered by fossil fuels. Some 84% of our central heating systems are driven by gas boilers, 4% by oil and less than 1% by solid fuels eg wood burners and bottled gas. Only 8.6% of homes are heated through electricity, which can be sourced from renewable sources, including wind and hydropower.

What are the next steps?

In the absence of a clear plan on delivering low carbon heat solutions for our homes nothing is going to change immediately. But change needs to happen, so watch this space.

Do you use a sustainable home heating system? Tell us more in the comments box below…


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3 Comments

  1. I live in a rural area where mains gas is non existent. I have a LPG boiler and I’m about to install a thermal store tank with heat supplied from a log burner in winter with top up heat from the gas boiler. In summer I will be relying totally on the gas boiler for hot water. I will have connections available for alternative sources of energy but, due to the high cost of heat pumps or solar panels or other systems, I’m leaving that for the future.
    My question: will the government provide better incentives (grants and qualifying criteria) for homeowners to make the switch to climate friendly energy sources? Legislation banning (currently economical to buy) boilers is not enough. The alternatives need to be economically viable as well.

    Comment by DAVID — October 17, 2019 @ 8:49 pm

  2. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) heat pumps can work both ways. so probably a lot more people will have residential air conditioning. While this will be nice, especially as our summers get hotter than ever, more energy will be consumed.
    Can anyone estimate whether the increased generation capacity from renewable sources will be sufficient for cooling in summer as well as heating in winter? I would like to know.
    Also, I suspect that heat pumps that have pipes in the outside ground may be more efficient that ones with pipes in the outside air.
    Thanks
    David

    Comment by David Guttridge — October 17, 2019 @ 8:14 pm

  3. I went to a local development of new houses and asked them if I could buy one of their unbuilt houses without a boiler and wet central heating….I might as well have asked for a gold toilet pan. The look of horror, and total denial that it is possible. They were totally oblivious of the changes above, and went back to some nonsense about planning permission. I walked out.

    Comment by Simon Clark — October 17, 2019 @ 7:34 pm

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