If you’ve heard scary stories about a ‘boiler ban’; and are feeling confused about the future of gas boilers; don’t worry; you’re not alone! It seems the Government are too!
From the proposed gas boiler ‘ban’ in 2023; which then changed to 2025; to the more recent back-tracking on that until 2040; the news has been full of conflicting messages about the future of heating.
So, if you’re looking for a new boiler, but are worrying about what to buy; we’re here to reassure you.
Don’t worry, your current gas boiler; or any gas boiler you may buy today; won’t be banned and evicted from your home!
Read on to find out everything you need to know about the future of gas boilers.
What are the government saying about a ‘boiler ban’?
The attention grabbing headlines have caused some alarm and confusion. So much so, that Worcester Bosch has created a short informative video on the supposed ‘boiler ban’.
We’ve linked to this video (‘The Future of Home Heating’) at the end of this blog. It aims to reassure customers of the facts behind the headlines.
The first place we will see more sustainable changes to heating, will be in new build houses.
When you see talk of gas boiler ‘bans’; this refers to plans to potentially ban all new homes from installing gas and oil boilers in 2025 or 2040!
So, unless you buy a new build from 2025, the ban will not impact you.
In this blog we explain why the changes to heating are coming; and what this means for buying boilers today.
The Heating People are ready and committed to ensuring a smooth transition to a greener future.
Why is there talk about banning gas boilers in the future?
Unfortunately, Earth is now in a period of rapid climate change. Global temperatures are rising because of human activities, such as the burning of coal, oil and gas.
The world is about 1.2C warmer than before the Industrial Revolution.
Whilst 1.2C may not sound like a lot; it is in terms of the detrimental effect it is already having on the natural world.
We are already seeing extreme temperatures; flooding and fires occurring around the world; which are increasing in frequency as temperatures continue to rise.
In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released part of its Sixth Assessment Report.
The report warns that we will not be able to limit global warming to even 2°C; unless there are immediate; rapid; and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s clear that changing our behaviour is crucial to controlling climate change.
The Committee for Climate Change (CCC) estimates that 62% of the actions required; will involve some element of societal or behavioural change.
These will include changes to the way we heat our homes and power our vehicles.
What has the government announced?
The IPCC released the worrying Sixth Assessment Report shortly before COP26; which Glasow is hosting in November 2021.
This will be the latest Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
During the COP26 summit, world leaders are discussing whether enough has been achieved since 2015’s landmark Paris climate agreement.
In 2015 in Paris, the government committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, by signing the Paris Agreement.
This made the UK the first major economy in the world to legislate for a Net Zero target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In order to try to achieve this ambitious national priority, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson established ‘Task Force Net Zero’. In November 2020, the government published ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ .
What is ‘Net Zero?’
The Institute for Government explains that Net Zero means: “achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.”
In other words, for greenhouse gas emissions that can’t be avoided; we must match by removing the equivalent from the atmosphere.
What is the 10 Point Plan for a Green Revolution?
In November 2020, Boris Johnson published ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’. This sets out the government’s plan for achieving net zero by 2050.
The plan outlines ten priorities for £12bn worth of investment in clean energy, transport and energy efficiency:
- Advancing offshore wind;
- Driving the growth of low carbon Hydrogen;
- Delivering new and advanced nuclear power;
- Accelerating the shift to zero emission vehicles;
- Green public transport, cycling and walking;
- Jet zero and Green ships;
- Greener buildings;
- Investing in carbon capture, usage and storage;
- Protecting our natural environment;
- Green Finance and innovation.
The 10-point plan and the ‘boiler ban’
Whilst the media has coined the phrase ‘gas boiler ban’; it’s important to understand what has been said by the government.
Point 7 of the plan is the bit that relates to heating. It focuses on ‘Greener Buildings’ and a ‘gradual move away’ from gas boilers to lower carbon, more efficient alternatives.
The plan reads that the Future Homes Standard; which will ultimately ban fossil fuel boilers in new homes; will be introduced “in the shortest possible timeline.”
Interestingly; a key commitment to ban gas boilers in new homes from 2023; was deleted from the Government’s plan shortly after it was released.
A Downing Street spokesperson told the BBC there had been a “mix-up”. He said that no fixed date is attached to the plan but that:
“We’ve consulted on introducing this by 2025 and will set out further details in due course.”
The CBI’s report on decarbonising heat; states that the government should mandate that after 2025; all new boiler installations must be part of a hybrid system or be ‘hydrogen-ready’.
By 2035 no new natural gas boilers should be installed; and only air source or ground source heat pumps or hydrogen powered boilers should be installed. Clearly this won’t impact your current gas boiler.
What is the proposed alternative to gas boilers?
If gas boilers were entirely phased out, they would likely be replaced with ground-source and air-source heat pumps. This currently poses a problem because heat pumps are currently more expensive than gas boilers.
Another option would be using hydrogen-fired boilers, which are currently largely unavailable to the domestic market.
As a proposed alternative to gas boilers; point 7 of the plan includes a target to install 600,000 heat pumps a year in British homes by 2028.
However, the figure allocated for this, £9.2bn is nowhere near what the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has said is required.
According to the CCC; 1.5 million heat pumps would need to be installed every year by 2030; to meet the country’s net zero emissions commitment by 2050.
Has the government backtracked on its ban on gas boilers?
Since the plan was published; Boris Johnson has indicated that the UK’s ban on gas boilers could be pushed back to 2040; due to backlash over the cost of replacing them.
Ministers are reportedly concerned that changing heating in 23 million homes would cost another £400billion. This is on top of the enormous sums already accrued during the Covid pandemic.
By delaying the gas boiler ban until 2040; it seems that the Prime Minister is stalling for more time. The hope being that the cost of heat pumps will fall; and more hydrogen boilers will be ready to be brought to market.
Nonetheless, environmental campaigners such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) will be very worried about these rumoured delays.
The IEA has said that if the world is to achieve net zero by 2050; a global ban on fossil fuel boilers needs to be introduced by 2025.
What are boiler manufacturers doing to get ready for the changes?
Although talk of ‘gas boiler bans’ sounds scary; it’s not actually the big panic that the media would have you believe.
As with your phone; vacuum cleaner; or any other appliance you have in your home; the technology is always evolving and improving.
As we understand more about the technology we use and its impact on the environment; we make improvements to how it runs.
The gas boilers we use today are so much more efficient than in the past.
We now use smart controls; weather compensation; load compensation; flue gas heat recovery systems; and a whole host of other energy saving devices alongside our boilers . So becoming ‘greener’ is far from a new idea to the heating industry.
Manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch; Vaillant; and ATAG have been pioneering the development of new technologies when it comes to heating our homes.
You might like our related blog: How to choose an energy efficient boiler.
What are boiler manufacturers already doing?
Here are just a few examples of what our favourite manufacturers are already doing:
Boilers with improved energy efficiency
We’ve already mentioned that all gas boilers are much much more efficient than they used to be. And this is in part due to the Boiler Plus Regulations.
And manufacturers continue to develop nifty ways of further improving the efficiency of their boilers; by building in what used to be an energy efficiency ‘add-on’.
For example, inside ATAG’s Economiser Plus range of boilers there is a Passive Flue Gas Heat Recovery (PFGHR) device.
It works by harnessing the residual heat left in the boiler after hot water has been heated.
Rather than allowing this energy from the flue gasses to be released as waste; the PFGHR essentially recycles them, resulting in lower gas consumption, and lower emissions.
Boiler manufacturers are striving to become climate neutral
Vaillant are setting their own ambitious goals and targets to become climate-neutral. As a company they aim to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. This equates to reducing around 60,000 tonnes per year in 2018 to less than 30,000 tonnes by 2030.
They plan to do this by switching to electric vehicles; using renewable energies on their production sites; and offsetting through afforestation.
Hydrogen ready boilers are being produced
Worcester Bosch welcomes recent communications by the UK Government; on increasing the amount of “Green Gases”; such as bio-methane and hydrogen to the UK gas grid.
Their gas boilers already have the capability to run on a 20% hydrogen blend.
Mark Wilkins, Technologies and Training Director at Vaillant says:
“We fully support hydrogen as a heating solution and are developing hydrogen-ready appliances ahead of the Government’s strategic decision on the role of hydrogen for home heating to be taken by 2026.”
Boiler manufacturers are involved with eco-friendly housing projects
Vaillant is supplying 239 of its low carbon heat pumps to a new eco-housing development in Swindon. Homes will be ready in 2022.
In addition to the heat pumps, Nationwide Building Society has also committed to ensuring each property achieves an EPC-A rating.
To achieve this target; the properties on the development will also benefit from the installation of other sustainable technologies, such as solar PV.
Houses will be wired to allow residences to add their own electric car charging points and batteries to store energy.
Boiler manufacturers are also producing heat pumps
Heat pumps are widely used in Scandinavia and many parts of Europe; where there is an abundance of renewably sourced electricity.
They use electricity to take energy from outside; and transfer it into heat to be circulated around a heating and hot water system.
In June 2021, Vaillant announced expansion of its UK Manufacturing Facility to Produce it’s aroTHERM plus Heat Pumps.
The aroTHERM plus and aroTHERM split heat pumps offer an ErP rating of A+++ and A++ respectively. Based in Belper, Derbyshire, Vaillant Industrial UK will begin manufacturing heat pumps; alongside its UK range of high efficiency boilers from 2022.
So it’s clear that whenever changes to the heating industry arrive, our manufacturers won’t leave us out in the cold. They’ll have our new solutions ready and waiting to be installed!
So, what we know is that the proposed changes to the law; prevents gas boilers from being installed in new homes from 2025 at the earliest.
It will not ban the gas boilers that are already in existing properties.
But it does mean that in the future; we’re likely to see a combination of both heat pumps and hydrogen boilers in homes to tackle climate change.
Rest assured that whenever the transition comes; The Heating People will be here to help find you the most appropriate installation for your needs; just as we are today.