The UK Government has made a commitment to reduce the country’s carbon emissions down to zero by 2050. However, in order to do that, it must phase out some of the systems that many Brits have come to rely on with newer, more efficient models.
One of these measures taken by the government is putting a ban on the sale of all gas boilers with the hope that these boiler types will be phased out by 2025. Sure, it’s still 4 years from that time but anyone living in the UK has to start thinking about this legislative order sooner rather than later.
This means, then, that you should learn all that you can about what this ban can bring and what you can do to prepare for it.
Why is there a Ban?
First and foremost, we have to know where there is a ban. By the latter half of the 20th century, 90% of homes in the UK have been relying on gas boilers for heat. These models provide homes with a cheap yet efficient way of producing and distributing heat all through the house, after all.
However, the manner in which gas boilers in the UK generate heat is not the most environmentally-friendly. This can be traced back to their primary source of fuel, gas and oil.
As fossil fuels, gas and oil are broken down in the burner to generate heat and the by product of this process is carbon dioxide. once the carbon dioxide is released into the air, it creates a “greenhouse” effect which contributes to the climate change we are experiencing.
You might argue that what your home releases into the air is relatively insignificant compared to what foundries and large businesses are releasing. And, if you look at things from a worldwide perspective, you might debate that bigger countries like USA and China produce more greenhouse gases than the UK.
But here is the thing, though: every carbon dioxide emission contributes to that Greenhouse effect. As far as the UK is concerned, heating systems contribute to more than 30% of the carbon emissions in the country. And half of that percentage is being contributed by homes with gas and oil-based heating systems.
The point is that the world has become too reliant on gas as an energy source in past years. Aside from the fact that it is a finite and near-depleting resource, Gas has also contributed to the negative changes that the world is experiencing recently.
As such, the UK government has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint before we reach the 2050s. It might not actually solve the continuing problem that greenhouse gases pose to the world but, at the very least, this will ensure that the major emissions in the next few decades won’t come from this country.
How does the Ban Help?
The goal of the ban is rather straightforward: make every person living in the UK become less reliant on fossil fuels for the most basic of their needs. This means doing away with every system that is dependent on fuel combustion and replacing it with safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives.
It also is important to note that the UK is one of the first countries to pledge zero net emissions on carbon dioxide by the 2050s. To make that happen, laws have to be passed to make sure that becoming less dependent on fossil fuel is mandatory for all. And this is where the gas boiler ban in 2025 will come into play.
As for the eventuality of the ban, you can be assured that it will come by 2025. The thing about bans is that they cannot be overruled except by another law. This means that the gas boiler ban, although not yet a fully-passed law, is coming regardless of whose administration it is come 2025.
Does this mean that all homes have to be retrofitted? That’s not yet clear as homes that are dependent on gas boilers for heating and replacing with another alternative fuel source is not as straightforward as you think nor is it inexpensive.
What is certain, however, is that all future homes will have to be non-reliant on gas burners for heating.
Will the Ban Apply on You?
Due to the complexity of its application, the ban now stands for all new homes to be built in the UK. This is important as more than 160,000 homes are expected to be built in the UK by this decade alone.
But what if you have been living in a home that has been reliant on a gas burner? It simply means that the ban won’t apply for you initially. This means that the government can’t come knocking at your door, demand that you ditch the gas boiler, and dismantle your heating system.
What they can do for homeowners with gas boilers, however, is to incentivise moving away from gas boilers. For example, the government right now is employing the Renewable Heat Incentive wherein homeowners that buy and install a renewable heating system in their homes to replace their gas boilers will get a payout every quarter.
Sure, not a lot of homeowners (especially the stubborn ones) are taking the government up on the offer. But the UK government is hopeful that a bit of positive reinforcement will encourage homeowners to make the switch. And if not, well, then the upcoming ban would ensure that maintaining a gas-based heating system becomes financially and physically difficult for homes before this decade ends.
What are Your Options, Then?
If you have decided to replace your current gas boiler, you would pleased to know that there are several alternatives that you could avail of. These options might not be exactly available in the UK as of the moment but the point is that there are other ways out there for your home to get the heat it needs without resorting to fossil fuels. Here are some of these alternatives.
This system was pioneered by Iceland and was meant for area-wide installation such as streets and communities. The concept here is that a geothermal plant or a similar facility produces hot water which then passes through several pipes and into connected homes.
What makes this system ideal is that the hot water itself can be a byproduct from the activities of said plant. It might come from the water which could be excess from a factory or an industrial complex and can be heated by way of heat pumps and biomass boilers.
As such, there is no need to build a dedicated water heating plant from the ground up. Of course, district heating is feasible in densely populated areas. All of that water could go to waste if only a few homes are connected to the heating system.
As such, the UK government is looking into other options that are easier to apply on a more personal basis.
As the name implies, this boiler heats up water through electrical coils. Since burning of fossil fuels is no longer needed, this boiler does not generate carbon dioxide. As a matter of fact, it does not emit anything aside from steam and hot water.
Also, electric boilers tend to heat water faster and is easier to fix, replace, and maintain. There is also relatively low risk to being exposed to hazards as the boiler’s conductors are covered by non-conductive material.
The only problem with electric boilers is that they cannot properly distribute heat on larger residential units. They are only best for smaller, single-family homes or single living units.
Heat pumps are devices that introduces natural heat from the air to water. In essence, a heat pump works like your typical refrigerator but in reverse.
What makes heat pumps efficient is that they can produce more heat than a typical electric heater. Some models can also be set to cool the air which makes them ideal during summer.
Their only downside is that they are expensive to install. However, your monthly electric bills should be lowered as heat pumps do not consume a lot of electricity.
This system does completely away with pipes and vents by directly emitting infrared energy. As such, these systems do not heat up the air but, instead, simply introduces heat directly which everything in that room can absorb.
Infrared heaters do not make a lot of noise as they do not consume fuel or boil water. They also do not take up a lot of space and are not demanding to repair or maintain. And, for those with allergies, infrared heating is ideal as it does not circulate air over and over.
The biggest downside with infrared heaters is that they have an extremely short range of 3 meters. Also, their effectiveness is reduced if something is blocking the path of the infrared waves.
This heating system is installed onto your roof which then collects, you guess it, solar heat. The collected heat is then transferred to a water tank, heating the contents inside.
As with a lot of alternative heating systems, however, you can expect for solar panels to have high installation costs. And due to their design, these panels are dependent on the weather. Due to this, solar panel heating is recommended only as a secondary heating option.
Biomass boilers are an entire category of alternative heating systems that use biological material to fuel the heat-generating process. Wood is the standard fuel for these boilers although some models allow for animal waste and other biodegradable material.
What makes biomass boilers ideal is that they are compatible with older gas boiling systems. All that you need to do is to replace your central gas boiler and nothing else. Plus, wood logs and pellets are easy to find in the market.
Aside from the usual installation costs, you have to also consider the fact that fueling this thing is going to be hands-on. You have to manually feed the logs and pellets to the furnace so the boiler has enough fuel to boil water.
Disadvantages notwithstanding, you can save as much as £800 all year round on your electricity bill. Also, biomass boilers make you directly eligible for renewable heat incentives.
The Bottom Line
Without a doubt, the ban on gas boilers is slowly becoming a reality. Although you still have a few years to prepare, you are better off making sure that your house is ready for alternative heating systems.
There is actually no universal “best” option for an alternative heating system. What works for you is dependent on the size of your home as well as your heating preferences and of course, your budget.
Either way, you are better off relying on heating systems that do not emit greenhouse gases that will contribute to global warming. And if you are not sure as to which heating system to get, you can always ask for advice from the experts in your area.