At the Paris accord in 2017, the UK government made an international agreement to cut carbon emissions to zero by the middle of the century. In order to achieve this ambitious feat, the government has no choice but to foster radical change.
Part of that plan is going to include reforming how we heat our homes, with a proposed gas boiler ban predicted to be in place by 2025.
So what does this mean for you? And how will you heat your home without gas?
Why are Gas Boilers likely to be banned?
Astonishingly, at present heating accounts for one-third of all carbon emissions in the UK, so it’s not surprising that the government are looking for new ways to reform this sector.
The majority of UK homes utilise central heating with gas and oil boilers being the main systems used.
When gas and oil fossil fuels produce are burned they produce carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Heating is responsible for around 30% of the UK’s greenhouse emissions and around 50% of that is the result of home heating.
How can a Gas Boiler ban help?
In order to meet our net-zero goals the government agreed to, they must explore new ways to get as close to zero as possible.
This is why the UK government is looking for alternatives to fossil fuels in the sectors responsible for the majority of emissions, which includes heating, transport and energy.
Proposed measures include replacing petrol and diesel vehicles with electric models and changing the way we heat our homes. For example, instead of using gas and oil boilers, we can start adopting zero-carbon alternatives such as heat pumps and electric heaters.
Will there be a Gas boiler ban in the UK?
In 2019, the then chancellor Philip Hammond officially announced a gas boiler ban on all new build properties by the year 2025, sending the industry into a frenzy.
Boris Johnson later reconfirmed this plan and although there is no official law banning gas boilers at present, a new set of building regulations were drafted, referred to as the ‘Future Homes Standard’.
This new document amended Parts L (conservation of fuel and power) and F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations. In late 2019, a consultation was launched regarding this fundamental update.
What will the Gas Boiler Ban mean for you?
The current plans only involve a ban on gas boilers in new build properties from 2025.
According to the National House-Building Council, at present, there are around 25 million homes in the UK and on average around 150,000, a year are built. As a result, it’s going to take a considerable amount of time before a ban on gas boilers on new builds by itself is going to have any difference in carbon emissions. Due to this, many environmental groups continue to pressure the government to take more radical steps and fast.
Yet, this policy, although considered restrained by many, makes sense from a financial point of view. For example, the Commission on Climate Change (CCC) highlighted that fitting low-carbon heating in new builds costs around five times less than it costs to make the transition in an old property.
Will the boiler ban affect your current home?
Many people are concerned that the proposed ban will mean them having to get rid of their current oil or gas boiler, but this isn’t the case. The gas boiler ban that is planned for 2025 is only applicable to new build properties and as of yet, there are no plans to expand it to old homes.
What is possible is that the government will start to encourage homeowners to replace their gas and oil systems with greener alternatives via incentives.
This is already happening with schemes such as the Green Homes Grant and the Renewable Heat Incentive. These schemes offer homeowners vouchers and/or rebates for the installation and use of renewable heating systems such as biomass boilers, air-source heat pumps, as well as for property upgrades including insulation and double glazing.
There is always the possibility that the government would ban gas and oil boilers across the board and in all properties. However, this is extremely unlikely and the government, for good reason are set on encouraging homeowners and landlords to increase the energy efficiency of their homes first.
It’s worth noting that neither of these schemes provide assistance for upgrading gas boilers from the older G-rated type to modern and highly efficient G-rated models, which has surprised many. According to Heatable, if you replaced an old G rated gas boiler with a modern A rated gas boiler, you could save as much as £315 a year on your fuel bill.
A considerable amount of existing homes in the UK are incredibly inefficient and therefore have a huge demand for heating. But even more important, carbon-free heating alternatives typically have less thermal output, therefore having a property that locks in the heat as much as possible is essential for their viability.
For this reason, as part of the green future, the government has focussed on improving energy efficiency as a key part of their strategy. As a result, in 2020, the government updated the building regulations, requiring all new builds to be more efficient than previously.
In line with this, last year the government launched the Green Homes Grant scheme, which has the goal of making over half a million homes more thermally efficient.
With these new laws and legislation, it’s very apparent that the UK government are serious about making change.
The ‘Future Homes Standard’ document provides some important clues to where we may be heading in terms of alternatives. It points to heat pumps, heat networks and a lesser degree direct electrical heating as viable options.
So what’s the Final Verdict?
At present, the gas boiler ban is a plan that will apply to new build properties only. So, if you’re concerned about the ban, but live in an older property, you shouldn’t be.
Is possible that things will change? It’s always possible, but unlikely since the costs and numbers involved are astronomical.
With that said, upgrading your home and making it more efficient isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your finances too. So, if your home is poorly insulated or you have an old G-rated gas boiler, it’s certainly worth thinking about making some upgrades.