What’s happening to gas boilers?

Published on September 1, 2021

Gas Safe Plumber

You might have heard about a proposed ban on gas boilers in the UK, and no doubt it’s left you with a lot of questions about how much it will cost to replace your heating system. In this blog, we debunk the myths on the ‘boiler ban’ and look at what your options are for replacing your old boiler with a more energy efficient alternative.

What is the government proposing?

In 2019, the government announced a change to the way that new homes will be built in the future. As part of the Future Homes Standard, domestic properties will have to produce 70 – 80% fewer carbon emissions than current new builds.

The Prime Minister has set the country an ambitious target – he wants the UK to be zero carbon rated by 2050, which means reducing emissions by as much as 80%.

According to the Committee on Climate Change, 14% of greenhouse gas emissions come from our homes, predominantly gas boilers, but this could soon change. From 2025, house builders will be forced to use alternative heating systems.

In the short term, the ban on gas boilers will only apply to new builds, but there could be a complete ban on using gas in the next thirty years. So, what alternatives is the government considering, and how much will this cost the average household?

Alternatives to gas boilers?

The government is considering four other heating solutions for domestic properties – heat pumps, electric boilers, solar heating, and hydrogen gas boilers.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps extract heat from the air or ground, and use it to heat water that is stored in a hot water cylinder. This water is used to supply taps, showers, and radiators.

Heat pumps rely heavily on your home being well insulated to stop heat escaping.

Currently, heat pumps are not considered a viable alternative to gas boilers by industry experts. The cost to install a heat pump and retro-fit insulation into older properties would be unaffordable for many people, plunging them into debt.

But perhaps the biggest problem is how heat pumps are powered. Though some are powered by solar or wind, most use electricity, and as 47% of the country’s electricity is produced by burning gas, this could significantly increase carbon emissions.

Electric boilers

Electric boilers work in much the same way as conventional boilers, but instead of using gas to heat up the water, they use electricity.

But just like heat pumps, electric boilers are not considered viable. As a fuel source, electricity is four times more expensive than gas for consumers.

Additionally, generating enough electricity to meet demand would increase carbon emissions. Though, it is possible to produce electricity using renewable energy like wind and solar, in reality, it’s likely to come from burning gas.

Solar heating

Solar heating systems use the sun’s energy to heat up water, which is stored in a hot water tank. This type of thermal system uses roof-mounted solar collectors that can be fitted to flat and pitched-roofs, and work all-year round.

Solar energy panels are expensive to install – the Energy Saving Trust estimates between £3,000 and £5,000. But because the sun is free, you will save money on your monthly heating bills and at the same time reduce your carbon footprint.

Solar heating can be used independently but it’s best used in conjunction with a gas boiler. This helps get the water up to temperature, particularly in the colder months, though it does rely on you maintaining and paying for two systems.

Hydrogen boilers

Hydrogen boilers are currently the frontrunner for replacing gas boilers, and here are just some of the reasons why.

    • It produces no carbon emissions, the only by-product is water
    • Hydrogen can be distributed using the network of gas pipes already in place
    • Modern gas boilers need only minor modifications to accept hydrogen
    • Hydrogen and gas are similar, so there is minimal training for gas engineers

 

There is a long way to go before hydrogen-ready boilers are approved for sale in this country. Prototypes are still being built and tested, and pilot studies are planned for the future – some for right here in Greater Manchester.

Though hydrogen-ready boilers are a way off yet, modern boilers can accept an 80:20 blend of natural gas and hydrogen, which is the first step in a longer journey.

Should I still buy a gas boiler?

In the future, we might use hydrogen, solar, electric, or even compressed air, but while the government and industry bodies are exploring these alternative fuels, gas is still the most affordable and energy efficient way to heat your home.

If you need a boiler replacement, then upgrading your outdated model with a new boiler will not only save you money but reduce your carbon footprint.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, an A-rated boiler burns a third less fuel than a G-rated boiler, so by replacing your old boiler you could cut down on your carbon emissions (based on a detached house in England, Scotland and Wales).

What’s more, by upgrading you could save £300 a year on your energy bill.

The key takeaway

The proposed ban on gas boilers only affects new builds from 2025, and any wider ban is unlikely to come into force until nearer 2050. Alternative home heating systems are still being developed, but in the meantime upgrading your old boiler with a more energy efficient one can significantly cut down on your carbon emissions.

If you’re looking for a gas engineer to replace your boiler, we can help. RJ Martindale, is a family plumbing and heating company based in Bolton. We have years of experience in boiler installation and repairs, and a loyal customer base who rate us highly.

Our job isn’t just about fitting gas boilers, it’s about the small things we do for every customer to make their life easier. From quote to handover, you can rely on us to do the best job possible, but don’t just take our word for it, read our Google reviews.