What does the 2025 gas and oil boiler ban mean for me?
Back in November 2020, the UK government announced that they intended to ban gas boilers from being fitted in all new homes from 2023. Now, in the latest round of dramatic climate proposals, it has been announced that no new fossil fuel boilers - both oil and gas - should be sold from 2025. So is it time to start thinking about alternative ways to heat your home? Read on to learn more.
Why ban oil and gas boilers?
The latest plan to eliminate gas and oil boilers forms part of the UK’s commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. It is one of 400 steps on the road to net-zero proposed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow, the latest UN Climate Change Conference where countries will attempt to agree the measures needed to put the Paris climate agreement into practice.
The conference was originally due to be held last year, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the event alongside Sir David Attenborough, pledging that 2020 would be the "defining year of climate action." Now, the event has been rescheduled and there is more pressure than ever before for leading industrial nations to take massive action to reduce emissions.
What happened to the ban on new gas boilers in new builds?
The plans announced last year were originally part of former chancellor Philip Hammond’s plans to tackle emissions. The move was criticised then by climate action groups, who felt that the proposals did not reach far enough. Since then, the government has been highly active in developing a new set of commitments that go above and beyond what was already set out.
Is the boiler ban achievable?
In theory, there is no reason why modern technology can’t be used to completely replace fossil fuel burning boilers in British homes. In reality, however, there are some major obstacles to overcome before this becomes a reality. These include:
Unsuitable housing stock
While it would be great to retrofit millions of homes with greener heating solutions such as air or ground source heat pumps, the full benefits of these alternatives can only really be achieved in passive homes which are designed from the outset to be exceptionally energy efficient. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Britain’s housing stock is not energy efficient enough to benefit from such solutions and the costs of upgrading existing homes would be vast.
High technology costs
Even if homes are suitable, it is important to consider the cost of switching to technologies such as heat pumps, which the government claims is the most attractive alternative from a climate perspective. According to the BBC, heat pumps work by extracting warmth from the air, ground or water - not unlike a fridge operating in reverse. The barrier, however, is that they currently sell for an average of £6,000 to £18,000. While generous subsidies are likely to be available, this is unlikely to be enough to entice most homeowners.
What about hydrogen boilers?
Another alternative that looks like an attractive proposition is the hydrogen boiler. According to the BBC, future-ready boilers that are designed so they are able to switch to burn hydrogen could be an option - and will probably be only around £100 more than the £2,000 standard gas boiler. Although this will help the climate because hydrogen from renewables burns with no emissions, climate advisors say it will probably only heat around 11% of homes, because of limited hydrogen supplies.
What about new builds?
Given the concerns that have been raised, it remains to be seen if the plan for a total ban on new oil and gas boilers becomes a reality by 2025. It is almost certain, however, that the government will push ahead on the ban on new fossil fuel boilers in new builds as the first step towards reducing emissions. As various industry bodies have highlighted, this will require changes in building regulations to facilitate more passive homes being created. In the meantime, we must wait with interest to see what comes out of this year’s climate conference.
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