Fossil fuel heating ban – what does this mean for the UK homeowner and new build developers alike?

Since 14% of UK emissions come from domestic energy use (Climate Change Committee, 2019), banning gas boilers is a major move to help the country hit its net zero by 2050 target. And given the global gas shortage that’s causing a number of energy firms to go bust, a move away from gas can’t come soon enough.

In 2021, the government released its Heat and Buildings Strategy, which outlines the changes that will come into place over the next few years to make UK buildings more environmentally friendly.


When it comes to banning gas boilers, the strategy is split into two phases, which we’ve outlined below.


Phase one: 2025

From 2025, gas boilers will be banned from all new builds. However, the government’s plans are still very early days, which means this rule isn’t 100% cemented just yet.


When it comes to making all new builds low-carbon by 2025, the Heat and Buildings Strategy simply states that the government will “consult on ending new connections to the gas grid”.


Phase two: 2035

In addition to the 2025 goal, the Heat and Buildings Strategy also states that it's aiming to phase out the installation of natural gas boilers beyond 2035. 

This means that if your boiler goes kaput after 2035, you’ll need to install a low-carbon alternative, rather than a new gas or oil boiler.


Why is the government banning gas boilers?

As countries around the world continue to pump emissions into the atmosphere, climate change is getting worse. That’s why the UK has set out to be net zero by 2050 – and banning gas boilers is just the first of several steps designed to help reach this goal.


According to the Climate Change Committee, around 14% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from domestic energy use – mostly from our gas boilers keeping us toasty. But if we want our country to be net zero by 2050, we need to drastically reduce this figure.

How will you be affected by the gas boiler ban?


No one will be affected by the gas boiler ban just yet. But anyone who moves into a home built from 2025 onwards will have to use low-carbon heating methods. Thankfully, the government has suggested that these new builds should already have low-carbon alternatives installed.


Will you have to stop using your gas boiler?

Since 85% of UK homes are still heated by carbon-heavy natural gas, the gas boiler ban will end up impacting most Brits eventually – but the changes for existing homes won’t be brought in until 2035.


Before you panic, note that no one will be forced to remove their existing boilers after this date, according to the government. Instead, homeowners will have to look for alternatives once their existing boiler comes to the end of its life.


What are the alternatives to gas boilers?

Although this transition to different heating systems might sound intimidating, over the next few years, low-carbon heating methods will become more common – and hopefully more affordable – for homeowners.


In the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the government is keen to point out that “the move to low-carbon heating will be a gradual transition, from niche product to mainstream consumer option.”


With the Future Homes Standard requiring alternatives to fossil fuel-based heating systems in new homes from 2025, builders and developers are already considering a range of measures needed to transition to new technologies, such as air- and ground-source heat pumps.


Heat pumps

There are two main types of heat pumps: air source and ground source. Air source heat pumps take air from outside and use it to power your home’s heating and hot water systems, whilst ground source pumps absorb geothermal heat from the ground.


Since neither of these systems rely on fossil fuels, they’re much better for the environment than gas or oil boilers – the prime reason why the UK government is encouraging more homes to switch to them.


Depending on which type of heat pump you go for, the upfront cost for purchase and installation can be anything between £6,000–£35,000. Bear in mind that you can get up to £6,000 off your heat pump by using the Boiler Upgrade Scheme – a government scheme for homeowners in the UK.


We won’t beat around the bush: compared to a gas boiler, the upfront cost of a heat pump is pretty steep. However, users will typically save £2,827 over the heat pump’s lifetime – not to mention roughly 20 tonnes of CO2.


Fossil fuels vs renewables

So is this boiler ban news worth celebrating? Although gas isn’t as bad as coal and oil, it’s still one of the fossil fuels that’s stoking the fires of climate change. So yes, this change to home heating is good news.


It’s also evidence that the UK government is finally taking renewables seriously – a stance made clear in 2019, when the UK surpassed the milestone of sourcing more power from renewables than from fossil fuels.


What does this mean for the UK?

It means fewer carbon emissions, less air pollution, cleaner water, and hitting the goal of net zero for 2050.


However, for some households, it’ll also mean forking out a few thousand pounds to replace their old gas boiler – something not everyone can afford to do. This is why the government has started rolling out grants to support more homes during this transition – but whether this support is enough is still up for debate.

Adapted from an article published by  The Eco Experts, written by Beth Howell 21.04.2022