Gas boiler ban: what will replace boilers in 2025?
There has been much talk and speculation about the UK government phasing out gas boilers in the UK. As almost 80% of the energy used for heating UK buildings comes from gas, this could potentially have huge impact on many households up and down the country. In this article, we'll look at the what's changing in terms of gas boilers and make some alternative replacement heating suggestions.
What is the gas boiler ban?
In a massive effort to slow and deal with climate change, the UK government has set a target of being 'net-zero' for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Part of this ambitious programme is to ban gas boilers from being installed in new-build homes. There has been some confusion about the date this ban will take effect from, with the government originally setting the date at 2025, then later bringing it forward to 2023, and then removing a specific date from their documentation altogether. At the time of writing, the 'Future Homes Standard' bill is going through Parliament and one would hope that the dates will become clear.
Will it affect you?
Regardless of the exact date, a important point to keep in mind is that the boiler ban applies to new homes only. There are currently no plans to force people with existing gas-fired boilers into an alternative method of heating by 2023 or 2025, which will leave millions of people breathing a huge sigh of relief.
As changing the type of heating system we have in our homes is quite an expensive process, we will likely see drives to upgrade the efficiency of the existing housing stock, such as through better insulation. However, we can all probably expect to see Government policies over the coming years to encourage and incentivise us into upgrading the way we heat our homes to a more renewable source.
What are the heating alternatives to boilers?
So if we were thinking of changing our heating systems or considering buying one of the new-builds after the boiler ban comes into effect, what are the most common types of alternative heating systems that could become more popular?
A heat pump is powered by electricity and works by taking energy from outside, transfers that energy into heat and distributes it internally around a heating and hot water system in the home. This is quite new technology in the UK but has been popular in the Scandinavian countries for several years due to their efficiency and low-carbon footprint.
There are two main types of heat pump suitable for domestic heating
Ground source heat pumps
This type of heat pump collects heat from the ground through a collection pipe that is filled with a special fluid that transfers the heat into the property. Ground source heat pumps can be installed into the ground horizontally or vertically, depending on the space available.
In order to be able to provide enough heat to comfortably warm a property, a horizontal ground source heat pump would need space the size of a tennis court, while a vertically installed one would need holes digging down to around 150m in depth. This is of course a very large amount of space and so is one of the main drawbacks of this type of heat pump.
Air source heat pumps
Perhaps the more practical of the two heat pumps, air source heat pumps work a bit like a refrigerator in reverse. Outside air is drawn into the system using a fan. The air is then compressed heated to a very high temperature, passes through a heat exchanger and is transferred into the water that circulates around the house. Because this system relies on the air outside, there is no need to have a large system of pipes installed into the ground.
District heating/ heat network systems
District heating (a.k.a. heat networks) is essentially a way of heating lots of different homes or buildings from a central source, such as a heat and power plant. This centralised energy facility would generate the heat and transfer out hot water (or steam) to homes connected to the network via a series of insulated pipes.
A district heating system was opened in Glasgow in 2011 and provides heating and hot water to around 2,000 people, removing the need for each dwelling to have their own individual boilers and providing low-cost heating with much lower carbon emissions than other, traditionally heated neighbourhoods.
While not yet available for purchase, once available, hydrogen boilers will be able to be installed in much the same way as gas-fired boilers currently are. They would be connected to the mains gas supply and would be capable of powering a home heating system on gas or pure hydrogen.
Should the gas network be converted to hydrogen, there would be a (relatively) seamless transition for householders with minimal need for new infrastructure or lengthy disruption. A new hydrogen boiler would be much easier to install than having to switch a home over to a district heating system or installing a heat pump. While more eco-friendly than gas to heat homes, the major downside is that hydrogen is still very expensive to produce, especially in the quantities needed to adequately heat millions of homes across the UK.
Electric radiators heat homes by using electricity converted into heat by an element contained in the radiator. This heat is then circulated around your room, usually with the added benefit of timers and smart controls to allow you to maximise control over your heating. They are a low-maintenance way of heating your home and are a convenient way of heating rooms not connected to the mains gas supply, like attics, garages or garden offices.
If you are concerned about the carbon footprint created by your gas boiler, then electric radiators are a fantastic alternative. There's a huge range of them available right now and they are very easy for a qualified electrician to install. They are wall mounted and connected up to your home's electrical system without the need for a network of pipes, outside heat pumps or relying on not-yet-available technology.
At Trade Radiators, we have a really big variety of electric radiators in a massive range of sizes and styles, all at brilliant prices. Our electric radiator range provides you with the choice of superb heaters that will match the décor and look stylish in any room. With excellent efficiency as well as high BTU outputs, our electric radiators allow you to get the best of both worlds.