Key facts for gas boiler legislation
In light of the UK government’s persistent pledges and ploys to reduce carbon emissions, and a target in place to eradicate them altogether by 2050, huge wholesale changes are to be expected in terms of how we heat our homes.
A UK gas boiler ban could come to fruition as early as 2025, so time is of the essence to begin planning ahead, and finding out exactly what any potential boiler prohibition could mean for you and your household.
What are the best options to replace existing gas boilers and what will they cost? Can you claim any financial help for switching to low carbon heating systems?
We’ll answer these questions and many more in this blog, to ensure you’re equipped with everything you need to know before any UK gas boiler ban comes into play…
Why is a gas boiler ban necessary?
In the 20 years preceding the 1990s (best decade by far, by the way), an astronomical rise occurred in terms of the number of households to feature a central heating system. Whilst around 30% of homes tuning into the Mexico 1970 World Cup were doing so in properties with a gas boiler, the figure was closer to 80% by the time Italia 90 came around.
Basically put, UK households quickly grew accustomed to easy, inexpensive, convenient heat source means in large quantities. However, in doing so, these methods of home heating have become responsible for nearly a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.
As of 2021, over 95% of UK households incorporate a central heating system of some sort, with the overwhelming majority of these powered via oil or gas boilers. As both gas and oil are fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide (CO2), they can be considered to be ‘greenhouse gases’, and thus contributory to climate change.
Indeed, whilst heating on the whole accounts for around 30% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions, around half of this comes from how we heat our homes. And though a high level of carbon emissions isn’t a problem restricted solely to the UK, gas does account for 78% of the energy used to heat buildings in the UK, with 12% powered by electricity. Only the Netherlands (83%) and Norway (85%) have a higher percentage of gas-powered buildings.
What would a gas boiler ban mean?
Essentially, the most effective strategy to reduce CO2 emissions is to use alternative energy sources than fossil fuels to power essential transport and heating vices.
And the UK is at the forefront of the drive to make this a reality, plotting to decree by law that zero greenhouse gas emissions will occur from 2050 onwards. In order to make that legislation a reality, the government is encouraging a switch from diesel and petrol vehicles to electric cars.
What’s more, green heating solutions are coming highly recommended, with homeowners being incentivised (more later) to swap oil and gas boilers for low-carbon alternatives, such as air source heat pumps and electric storage heaters, via a new boiler upgrade scheme.
How would a uk gas boiler ban affect me?
As it stands, the UK boiler ban is slated to solely affect new-build properties from 2025 onwards, with gas and oil boilers not allowed in such homes.
According to information from the National House-Building Council, around 160,000 new houses are built from year to year in the UK, with an estimated 25 million households in total. Therefore, it is highly likely to take a while for the effects of a new-build gas boiler ban to be positively noticeable, and longer still to have an obviously tangible impact upon greenhouse gas emissions.
Basically, there’s concerted pressure from environmental groups and a variety of media outlets upon the government to do more, quicker, so it is very possible that legislation is subject to change. So be sure to watch this space and keep up to date with all the latest developments via the BestHeating Advice Centre moving forwards.
Will the gas boiler ban impact my home?
As aforementioned, the 2025 gas and oil boiler ban is only set to affect newbuild housing for the time being. At the time of writing, there is no planned action to make the removal of boilers in existing homes a legal requirement.
However, expect government encouragement as it pertains to switching up the way we heat our homes. What we know so far is that from April 2022 onwards, homeowners in the UK and Wales will be afforded a £5,000 grant in order to invest in an air source heat pump to replace a gas or oil boiler, in replacement of the existing Renewable Heat Incentive. More information on this new legislation can be found in our blog, Heat Pump Grants – Your Key Questions Answered.
In future, there’s a very real possibility that a complete gas boiler ban will ensue, and it will become a legal need to swap a traditional boiler for an energy efficient, low-carbon option. But given there’s a few years yet before even newbuild housing legislation comes to fruition, existing homeowners can rest easy that this move should be some considerable way away as of the time of writing.
What alternative options are there to gas boilers?
There’s a multitude of alternative options to gas boilers that can help to largely reduce our carbon footprint. However, as the statistics referenced earlier in this blog would suggest, they are yet to become prevalent to any real extent across the UK.
Perhaps with widespread incentivisation and potentially forthcoming government legislation, the following energy source options will become far more familiar than they might be currently…
Electric heating solutions
Electrical heating alternatives are plentiful, and come in a huge variety of forms. The likes of portable heating devices and simple bar fires would tend to be powered by electricity.
There’s a clear distinction to be made between each type; heaters tend to incorporate common devices such as fan heaters and electric fires, in addition to the larger and more sophisticated storage heaters. Electric boilers, electric water heating systems and electric underfloor heating kits also fall under the heater umbrella.
All heater components operate in the same manner – they utilise a heating element to warm up something, whether it be the floor, the air, or the water supply to your home. Electric heaters are totally efficient too, converting practically all the electricity they use into heat. In doing so however, they sap plenty of electricity, so can be a somewhat expensive option.
By contrast, heat pumps simply transfer heat as opposed to creating it. They virtually work in the reverse manner to a fridge, delivering heat from outside the home into a heating system or hot water tank to supply to the house.
Two main types of heat pump exist in the form of air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps. Which, unsurprisingly, acquire heat from the air and the ground respectively.
There’s tonnes of air source heat pump information in our Advice Centre blogs, The Ultimate Guide To Air Source Heat Pumps, as well as Busting The Myths About Air Source Heat Pumps, and Heat Pump Grants – Your Key Questions Answered.
But as a general overview, both forms of heat pump are advantageous in that they use much less power when in operation. For a specified amount of electricity, it is estimated that heat pump systems work around three or four times more efficiently than electric heaters.
District heating solutions
District heating systems have grown to great prominence in Iceland in recent decades – so much so that around 90% of homes in the country enjoy ‘free heat’ from ‘hot water springs’ (geothermally heated groundwater emerging from the Earth’s crust).
Ultimately, the concept involves entire streets, communities and developments being provided with hot water from a central geothermal plant.
As a demonstrably proven large scale heating solution, elements of district heating strategies are being practiced with greater regularity around the world. For example, the use of low-carbon energy sources like heat pumps and biomass, to recover excess or wasted heat from industrial settings such as factories or warehouses.
Typically, district heating is a viable option for highly populated areas – university campuses and college environments are prime candidates. So whilst it is possible that we see rise in prominence within UK commercial properties in the not too distant future, we could be waiting a while to see a wave of district heating systems sweeping residential UK estates.
How much will electric heating alternatives cost?
In all honesty, low carbon electric heating alternatives can cost a pretty penny to purchase and install, with a typical initial air source heat pump fitting usually setting prospective buyers back something in the region of £10,000 to £10,500.
However, the previously mentioned government grant scheme can help to offset a large portion of this expense. And as a further benefit, electric heating systems would also tend to be much cheaper to run than those which rely on the burning of fossil fuels.
Certain renewable heating systems are even operational for completely free, with solar hot water heating one such example. However, it is unlikely that this sort of heating arrangement will be able to cater entirely to your property’s hot water requirements.
In addition to the excellent level of efficiency they offer, all electric heaters also provide the benefit of epitomising a completely green heating solution. Therefore, when signing up to a renewable tariff, your electric heating system will effectively generate zero-carbon emissions.
Keep up with the latest heating news from BestHeating
Hopefully, you now have an idea about how any potential UK gas boiler ban could affect you, and the way in which you heat your home.
You can keep up to date with all the very latest heating news online with BestHeating.com. And if you would like any further help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. You can leave your thoughts in the comments section below, or contact us via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
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With a background in sports journalism, John counts content writing amongst his key passions. He’s always peppering our Advice Centre feed with reasoned and researched home heating tips, and providing expert solutions to the questions you want answering. Fine football and music connoisseur. In his own head, at least.