You may have heard that there is a plan to ban gas boilers from homes in 2025. Now that is little more than a couple of years away we will look at what this might mean for property owners, buyers and also landlords and investors.
What’s behind the gas boiler ban?
Gas boilers are a popular source of central heating and hot water. If not the main source for millions of homes.
However, gas boilers are also a major source of CO2 or so-called ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions which contribute to climate change. It is said that gas heating in all kinds of buildings is responsible for around a third of all the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Many countries around the world including the UK have pledged to become net carbon zero by 2050. It is believed that the decarbonisation of heat could be a significant contributor towards making this happen.
So what could the gas boiler ban mean for property?
Firstly, it doesn’t mean that all existing gas boilers will be illegal from 2025. In fact, there is no actual law banning them in existence as yet. It may not even happen.
The ban will only apply to new build properties. These won’t be permitted to use gas (or oil) boilers from some point in 2025. This is because to fit one means that the property would not meet what is known as the Future Homes Standard. There have even been suggestions this should be brought forward to 2023.
Existing properties will still be able to fit brand new gas boilers as well as replace and repair existing ones.
There is the further possibility of a complete ban on the sale of all gas boilers from 2035 however.
What will replace gas boilers?
There are two key options for a mainstream replacement for gas boilers. (This is aside from existing options like solid fuel and electric water/heating systems and biomass boilers.)
Hydrogen boilers are one alternative. The Government is looking at whether more hydrogen, which is often thought of as a ‘green gas’, should be added to the gas supply anyway. Many newer existing gas boilers can already run on a hydrogen blend, and pure hydrogen boilers may become available within the next year or so.
The other main option are heat pumps. Heat pumps take heat from the outside air and transfer it to inside a house. In some ways they work like a fridge but in reverse. Ground source, water source and air source heat pumps are already available but air source heat pumps are probably the most usual type so far.
Heat pumps do use electricity which, at the moment, is quite likely to be generated from gas. But heat pumps can also be powered using electricity which does not produce carbon such as wind, water, solar and nuclear power.
Should I replace my gas boiler now, in advance of the ban?
The Government has been offering a scheme – the Boiler Upgrade Scheme – which offers grants to those wanting to replace their gas boiler with a heat pump. It is more than likely there will be more such schemes in future to encourage us to move away from gas.
But anyone considering making the switch should weigh up all the pros and cons before they do.
Heat pumps are much more efficient at turning energy into heat. But they also have some drawbacks. They are still much more expensive than gas boilers to buy and maintain. They generally only work well in well insulated properties. So anyone fitting one in an older property may need to install extra insulation measures too. Heat pumps are efficient but they use electricity which, under the current way of charging, generally works out more expensive than gas. A heat pump may be greener but it may well not be cheaper.
For landlords and investors a heat pump may attract some eco-conscious tenants. But it may deter others.
Buying property from 2025 .... what to do
As we get nearer to the gas boiler ban in 2025 it is going to be advisable to think very carefully about what is best to do when buying property.
New heating sources are likely to be more widely available than they are now by 2025. But they will have very different buying, running and maintenance costs to that of a gas boiler. So it will be important to check what these will be before buying. Or before renting a home for that matter.
Landlords and investors will need to watch developments in the market particularly closely. They will need to decide whether buying a buy to let with, say, a heat pump is a good idea. Or whether a ‘second hand’ property with a good old fashioned gas boiler might still be a better bet.