Last month, shock headlines across national newspapers declared that gas boilers would be banned from 2025 to tackle climate change. The news line came from the announcement of the Future Homes Standard. But, as product manager Phil Birchenough explains, there is more to this bombshell than first meets the eye.
If you spotted the news story sounding the death knell for gas boilers last month and thought you would have to rip out your heating system in the next five years, you were not alone.
The headlines came hot on the heels of a Committee for Climate Change (CCC) report ‘UK Housing: Fit for the future?’ in which the government reiterated its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
It stated that it would end fossil fuel heating systems in all new houses by 2025 but it did not call for a ban on gas boilers.
A move towards renewable
The plan is to future-proof new housing stock (emphasis on the word “new”) and this includes introducing low carbon heating and reducing our dependence on natural gas.
The recommendations of the CCC were that no new homes should be added to the gas grid from 2025, therefore reducing carbon emissions and making our housing stock greener.
This in itself isn’t really that shocking. After all, we’ve known for a long time that domestic heating is a major source of the UK’s greenhouse emissions.
What’s more – nobody is suggesting we eliminate gas as an energy source altogether or insisting we chuck out all gas appliances.
After all, there are approximately 28 million residential dwellings in the UK and 85% of these are connected to the mains gas network.
How is the industry reacting?
We are all very aware as consumers and professionals that we need to reduce our carbon emissions and, as an industry, we have been working towards low carbon heating solutions for more than a decade.
Gas will still be an important energy source for heating for the foreseeable future which is why the government is calling for an increase in the proportion of green gas used by our gas grid.
As a result, the gas industry is working hard towards decarbonising our gas supply and biomethane and hydrogen are strong contenders as low carbon gas alternatives.
While it isn’t yet clear if technologies designed for new types of low carbon gas will be acceptable under The Future Homes Standard, I suspect that changing the gas and not the appliance will be the option that is most welcomed by the consumer.
Making homes efficient
Another area to consider to reduce the demand for heating (whatever the energy source) is improving the efficiency of our homes.
This does not just relate to new homes – but old housing stock too.
To do this, the CCC recommends that existing homes be retrofitted and low carbon heating technologies explored, including introducing heat networks or heat pumps.
Studies suggest 75% of the total residential heat demand in the UK could be met by heat pumps.
Sadly, heat pumps currently make up less than 1% of annual heating system sales.
The industry has worked hard over the years to educate people as to the benefits of heat pumps and yet there are still considerable barriers to adoption impacting their uptake – cost, installation and siting just to name a few.
Here at Sime we create hybrid products that are cost-effective, easy to install and can be sited inside a property. Products such our Murelle Revolution heat pump and boiler come in one unit – therefore overcoming many of the barriers to adoption that products like heat pumps face.
They are therefore a practical way to reduce the carbon footprint of both old and new homes.