The Climate Change Act amended in 2019 made the UK the first major economy to pass laws to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2050.
Since 14% of emissions are from domestic energy use, the UK government announced a ban on gas boilers to reduce emissions and hit the net zero target by 2050.
Gas boilers heat most UK homes, and many rely on them. If you’re using a gas boiler and wonder how you’ll be affected, read on to learn everything you need to know about the UK gas boiler ban.
When Will Gas Boilers Be Banned?
The Heat and Buildings Strategy released by the UK government in October 2021 outlines changes that will come into place to make UK buildings more eco-friendly.
The strategy of banning gas boilers involves two phases:
1st Phase: 2025
The strategy aims to make all new buildings in England net zero ready from 2025 and proposes ending new connections to the gas grid.
Gas boilers will be banned from all new builds, meaning all new homes built after 2025 will have an alternative heating system.
However, the plans are still in the early days meaning the rule isn’t 100% cemented.
2nd Phase: 2035
The strategy also aims to phase out the installation of natural gas boilers beyond 2035, meaning if your gas boiler breaks down after 2035, you’ll need to install a low carbon alternative instead of a new gas boiler.
How Will You Be Affected By The Gas Boiler Ban?
You’ll not be affected by the gas boiler ban just yet. The ban doesn’t mean you’ll be shut off from all gas from 2025 if you’re already using a gas boiler or plan to buy one soon.
It only means that new houses built from 2025 onwards will be designed to be heated differently with low carbon heating methods.
There are no plans for phasing out gas boilers for existing homes, and no one will be forced to remove their existing boilers.
Instead, the government will grow the market for alternative heating methods like heat pumps through incentives and grants, market-based regulations on manufacturers, and phasing out the installation of gas boilers in new buildings.
Why Is There A Gas Boiler Ban?
Decarbonising the energy used in buildings is a key part of the UK’s clean growth strategy, and it underpins the plan for a green industrial revolution.
Part of the 14% greenhouse emissions from domestic energy use is mostly from the gas boilers we use to stay toasty.
Banning gas boilers is one of the strategies to reduce carbon emissions by changing the way we heat our buildings and improving the efficiency and performance of energy related products.
What Are The Alternatives To Gas Boilers?
The government aims to phase out installing natural gas boilers beyond 2035.
It aims to make low carbon heating methods more common and affordable for homeowners in the next few years.
The strategy notes the move will involve a gradual transition to make low carbon heating a mainstream consumer option instead of a niche product.
Some alternatives to gas boilers in the UK include:
Heat pumps work like a reverse fridge and can use an air or ground source.
Air source heat pumps extract air from outside and compress it to reach high temperatures and power your home’s hot water and heating systems, while ground source heat pumps absorb warmth from the ground.
These systems don’t rely on fossil fuels, making them better for the environment than gas or oil boilers. The upfront costs of heat pumps can be high compared to gas boilers.
Depending on the types of heat pump you go for, you can expect purchase and installation costs to reach around £6,000–£35,000.
To encourage the switch to heat pumps, you can get up to £6,000 off your heat pump through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, a government funded initiative toward renewable heating systems.
The government aims to take major strategic decisions on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising heat by 2026.
Hydrogen boilers are similar to gas boilers, except they burn cleaner fuel better for the environment.
Trials are exploring a 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas mix that can be compatible with current networks, in-home heat sources, and appliances.
Manufacturers have been encouraged to design hydrogen ready boilers to make the transition easy and cheaper for consumers.
Although they’re not commercially available, hydrogen boilers may cost roughly the same as similar gas boilers.
Infrared panels are still new to the heating scene in the UK but have a promising future. They can be fitted to ceilings or walls and provide near instant, invisible heat to individual rooms.
Infrared panels are highly controllable and heat like the warm sun on a cold day instead of relying on convection currents to carry warm air around the room.
Depending on the installation, they can also use around four times less energy than a standard electric radiator.
To fully replace a boiler’s functionality, infrared panels must be paired with an air-source hot water cylinder.
An infrared panel system for a three-bedroom house can cost around £2,000–£2,500, but this can increase depending on the number of rooms.
District Heating Systems
District heating systems involve underground networks of insulated pipes which take heat from one source and deliver it to different buildings in a particular area.
Heat sources can vary, but the pipe network is usually similar across different systems.
Some facilities like combined heat and power plants can provide a dedicated supply to the heat network, while others recover waste heat from urban and industrial infrastructure.
An example is the Bunhill 2 District Heating Network system in North London, where heat from the London Underground transit system is used to heat homes in Islington.
The UK gas boiler ban will not affect you yet, but it’s a step in the right direction as we move into a new era where fossil fuels die out and renewables increase.
Although you may continue using your gas boiler, you’ll likely need to replace it with a low carbon alternative after it dies out.