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What are the Alternatives to Gas Boilers?

The UK government’s target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 has necessitated the introduction of initiatives aimed at reducing fossil fuel emissions across various sectors.

Recently, the government announced the phasing out of domestic gas boilers in new homes, with the International Energy Agency stating that no new fossil fuel boilers should be sold from 2025 if the world is to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of this century. 

The ban, scheduled to start as early as 2025, is a major step towards meeting the 2050 target and one likely to be accelerated with the announcement of the new target for the UK to only produce clean electricity by 2035.


This will come as a major change to how most of the UK population uses energy, with 95 per cent of UK households using central heating. However, with 40 per cent of the UK emissions coming from domestic households, it’s clear the government may need to extend the ban to hit target.

A recent study by business energy retailer Love Energy Savings, revealed that 44 per cent of the UK public are worried that they will have to foot the bill for the UK government to hit net zero in 2050.

To ease these concerns it’s important to know exactly who will be affected and when. 


How will I be affected? 

Government plans are for new build properties. There are currently no plans to replace boilers using gas in older homes. So, if you’ve recently purchased a new boiler, you’re safe. 

Much of the debate is around what the UK Government is doing to improve the energy efficiency of an existing home. This would see the UK make larger strides towards achieving net-zero, however, it would cost significantly more to implement. 

A report issued by the Committee on Climate Change said that it would cost a staggering £26,300 to replace central heating systems in older properties with low-carbon heating, in comparison to just £4,800 in new builds. 

Buyers will not be affected by the introduction of heat pumps but will have to ensure they’re on the right home energy tariff once they move into their new home.

If you’re planning on building your own home after 2035 you will be required to install a non-gas alternative. Though the government has announced a subsidy programme, where you could receive between £4,000 and £7,000.

For developers and manufacturers, there are some challenges around increasing availability of the technology in the supply chain, with additional training required for installers. The government is set to announce details around installer training in due course.   


What does this mean for new build energy bills? 

With a few alternatives available, each new build developer may opt for different types of heating systems. 

The current proposal indicates that new homes in the UK will run on low-carbon heat pumps, and the scheme expects to install 2.5 million heat pumps by 2030.

Using hydrogen to heat homes will be a huge step in the right direction for climate change. An added benefit to the homeowner is that heat pumps are also much cheaper to run and will lead to a much larger saving on monthly energy bills. 

What are my options if I don’t live in a new build?   

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are much more energy efficient as they draw heat from a renewable source. The complicated process involves drawing warmth from the earth or air and then transfers it to a liquid. The liquid is then compressed to heat the temperature and transferred around your home.   

If you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint and are attracted to lower energy bills, installing a heat pump into your existing home may seem like a great option. Despite no immediate plans, the UK Government is aggressively pushing towards the net-zero target and many suspect that they will eventually create plans to phase out gas boilers altogether. 

However, it may not be the right time to invest. Installing a heat pump into an existing home is very expensive. According to the Renewable Energy Hub, you can expect to pay anywhere from £11,000 to £15,000. Even with the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive allowing homeowners to spread installation costs over seven years, the price puts many people off. 


Electric heaters 

Electric heaters come with higher electricity bills. As electricity is more expensive per kWh than gas, UK households must be much smarter when switching electricity suppliers. This may mean exploring new tariffs such as Economy 7 (especially if you can program your storage heater). 

There are some electric heaters with more energy efficient technology, so if you choose to go with this option, you’ll need to pay extra for more energy efficiency. 


What can I do now to reduce my carbon footprint? 

Some independent energy suppliers have entered the market only supplying renewable energy tariffs and switching to a green energy tariff doesn’t necessarily mean you will be paying more for your home energy. In fact, some of the best deals on the market are green energy tariffs.

Use a comparison engine to take a look at the wide selection of tariff options available and you may be able to lower your footprint without breaking the bank on a new heating system. 

*Rosie Macdonald is a former estate and letting agent. She represents Love Energy Savings.

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    It’s definitely not worth switching from a boiler yet we were quoted £16k for a heat pump that only does heating not hot water so we’d still need a boiler and the more I read into heat pumps the less I like the idea because they don’t give as much heat as standard options and are less efficient in cold weather which totally defeats the purpose surely urgh


    I agree with your sentiments in not swapping to a heat pump and your general observations. I'm avoiding them like the plague but with other objections as well as yours.

    But I don't understand why your heat pump won't supply hot water?? You wouldn't have to retain a boiler though- a cylinder with immersion heater would sort your hot water needs- and it is this cylinder that the heatpump should service in the first place though.

    Yes heat pumps are a form of 'low temp' heating- your rads wont get as warm as from your gas boiler so rad sizes need to be looked at and upsized for any given room (unless they just happen to have been oversized in the first place).


    Agreed heat pumps are a total waste of time unless you are building new with under floor heating , I've just replaced 3 gas boilers this year and will continue to replace them like for like.


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