Gas boilers are on the way out, according to the government, and environmentally friendly alternatives are on the rise, in a bid to urge the general public to make greener choices. From as early as 2025, the UK will be implementing a gas boiler ban to help it achieve its net zero goals by 2050, which means that homeowners will need to find other solutions. Here’s what the UK gas boiler ban could mean for you and how you can avoid any issues in the future.
Why a gas boiler ban is necessary
The UK utilises fossil fuels for the majority of its heating, transport and energy needs, meaning that one of the most effective ways we can reduce our collective CO2 emissions is to use alternatives. With a law in place that greenhouse gasses need to be net zero by 2050, it’s a legal requirement that we make changes and the sooner we can do that, the better. Swapping gas and oil-fired boilers for the likes of electric storage heaters and installing air source heat pumps can help to enhance sustainability.
What does it mean for homeowners?
The UK gas boiler ban will apply to new build properties from 2025, under the current plans. With around 25 million homes in the UK, and around 160,000 newbuilds built every year, this ban will have a huge impact in years to come on the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. While there are no plans in place yet for existing homes to switch out their boiler, the plans are intended to encourage homeowners to ditch oil and gas in favour of a greener alternative.
One of the ways the government is hoping to achieve this is with grants and financial incentives to encourage people to switch to renewable heating solutions. The UK government has been piloting schemes in recent years to increase support for Heat Networks, which ran back in 2017. The Heat Networks operate by supplying heat from a central source, like power plants, which then distribute it in the form of hot water and steam from underground pipes. The Renewable Heat Incentive is another government-funded scheme which provides pay-outs to homeowners who purchase a renewable heating system, serving as a financial incentive to switch from a standard boiler to a heat pump system.
What alternatives are there to gas boilers?
There are several alternatives on the market to using gas and oil in your home. With more people seeking ways to cut their carbon emissions, making the investment now could not only benefit you but also add value to your home if you choose to sell in the future. Electric heating is a common alternative to gas boilers. They can be basic and portable such as freestanding heaters, more complex systems such as contemporary storage heaters, or heat pump systems that supply hot water and underfloor heating. Electric heating comes in two main categories – heaters and heat pumps, which operate differently.
Heaters include fan heaters, electric fires and storage heaters, but this category can also include electric water heating using immersion heaters or electric boilers, and direct electric underfloor heating. What ties all of these options together is the way they work, using a heating element to heat something else, whether that’s your floor, the air in the room or water in a tank. Electric heaters are incredibly efficient and can help to reduce your carbon footprint, but naturally they also use a lot of electricity so they can be costly to run.
Heat pumps operate a little differently. Rather than generating heat, they move it around, pumping heat from outside into the hot water or heating systems in your home. Air source heat pumps work with heat from the air outside, while ground source heat pumps utilise heat from pipes laid in the ground. Both are highly effective and use far less power to work. In fact, these systems can be up to four times more efficient at heating than electric heaters.
Biomass boilers use organic materials as fuel, such as wood, plants or plant-based materials. Modern biomass boilers use wood in the form of wooden logs or pellets to create heat which can be used for heating your home and generating electricity. These boilers still qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive and are an efficient way to use scrap wood that would otherwise go to waste. They’re also very practical for remote locations, but they do require some maintenance and may require more space than a typical gas boiler.
You can operate an electric combi boiler using power generated from solar panels, which can reduce your heating costs considerably and makes heating your home more sustainable as you can use free, renewable energy to power your boiler and the appliances in your home. Solar thermal heating is also an option, which enables homeowners to generate up to 90% of their hot water requirements in the summer, and 25% in winter. Solar thermal panels are used alongside a boiler or immersion heater, using the sunshine to heat a transfer fluid which is then pumped into a heat exchanger inside a water cylinder to be used in the home. There are no carbon emissions with this type of heating system and it’s low maintenance once installed, with minimal running costs.
The initial purchase and installation costs for switching to a low-carbon heating system can be high, but the long-term benefits are significant. Renewable systems reduce the carbon footprint of your property and bring down the cost of your heating bills. In fact, in the case of certain systems, you may even be able to heat your home for free. An additional benefit to swapping out the heating system of your home is that it can add value to your property. More buyers will be seeking eco-friendly properties, where the foundations have already been laid for a greener, more sustainable way of living.