What Will Replace Gas Boilers in 2025? The Future of Heating

Gas central heating

The UK has relied on gas and oil based central heating since the 1930’s. Nowadays, tackling climate change is a national priority, which means the way we warm our homes has to change. In 2025, gas boilers will be replaced by renewable heating systems in all new-build homes. This is part of a government effort to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. But what does this mean for you, and what are the alternatives to a traditional central heating system?

What is the “boiler ban”?

In 2019, the CCC (Committee on Climate Change) announced that a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from carbon-heavy heating systems. And with an estimated 85% of UK households still using gas and oil boilers, the government have decided to act. The ‘Future Home Standard’ will take effect in 2025, requiring all new-build homes to adopt lower-carbon heating alternatives.

Whether you are planning on buying a new home or not, it is still worth considering opting for a more renewable heating solution. Not only will this contribute to the decarbonisation of the UK, but, in the long run, you could save money on your heating bills.

What are the alternatives to gas central heating?

As the government are encouraging everyone to go greener, moving from a conventional central heating system to an eco-friendly alternative has never been easier. There are many options to choose from, such as:

  • Heat pumps
  • Heat networks
  • Hydrogen boilers
  • Electric radiators

Some, however, are more viable than others.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps absorb natural heat to warm your homes and water. There are three main types of heat pumps: ground-source, air-to-water and air-to-air. A ground source heat pump absorbs warmth from the ground using pipes fitted beneath your garden. An air-to-water pump distributes warmth through your central heating system, whilst the air-to-air pumps require a warm circulation system i.e., ducts, vents and grills.

Pros

Cons

  • Heat pumps can be fitted in many different types of buildings.
  • Uses renewable energy.
  • Have a long lifespan.
  • Qualifies for Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI). See below.

 

  • Need an entire network of pipes for them to work.
  • The fan and compressor could create noise.
  • Expensive installation fees.
  • Provide lower heat temperatures than normal central heating.
  • Air-to-air pumps don’t heat water.

 

Best suited for: Homeowners who prefer a slow release of heat, have a fully functioning air circulation system (air-to-water) or a large garden (ground source).

Verdict: Heat pumps are an option for those who have the capital to install them. Government initiatives, like the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), could help subsidise homeowners by paying them quarterly. If such schemes and grants are not properly in place, the likelihood of heat pumps dominating the renewable heating space is relatively low. Besides this, heat pumps are complicated to install, which could raise logistical problems, depending on where you live and the size of your garden.

Heat Networks

Heat networks supply heat from a central source, such as a combined heat and power plant, and distribute it, in the form of hot water or steam, through underground pipes.

Pros

Cons

  • According to gov.uk, heat networks are “one of the most efficient ways of reducing carbon emissions from heating”.
  • Could reduce heating bills.
  • Has already been successfully implemented in Denmark, and some areas of the UK, meaning this system can work.
  • You will save space because you don’t need a boiler.

 

  • Heat networks are still a new technology, certainly for the UK. This means that they are still at a ‘trial and error’ stage.
  • Can only work in certain areas, like urban spaces.
  • Heat can be easily lost to the ground.

 

Best suited for: Each heat network will be installed in areas that are suitable, such as towns, cities and districts.

Verdict: Whilst the government have already invested £320 million into heat networks, offering grants and loans to those in the private and public sector willing to participate, only a small percentage of UK heating comes from this system. Aside from the research that needs to be done, heat networks are only effective in urban areas, which excludes a large portion of the UK. Because of these factors, the feasibility of heat networks being used widely by 2025 is yet to be known.

Hydrogen Boilers

Hydrogen boilers heat the home with both natural gas and pure hydrogen. They will only come into play when gas distribution networks have converted from natural gas to hydrogen.   

Pros

Cons

  • Very little difference between a gas boiler and a hydrogen one. You would barely notice the change.
  • Existing boilers could stay in use, cutting the price of installation costs.
  • Hydrogen is non-toxic compared to most fossil-fuels. It doesn’t produce carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide.
  • Hydrogen-ready boilers are currently unavailable in the UK.
  • Cost of hydrogen production is high.
  • More flammable than natural gas. It burns with a near invisible flame, so specialised safety measures would have to be in place.
  • Hydrogen is notoriously difficult to store because it’s so light. Storage and transportation issues would have to be resolved before the system is implemented.

 

Best suited for: Homeowners with existing gas boilers or new-build properties, only when the government are ready to introduce this alternative.

Verdict: Research projects are currently being run by the government, such as HyDeploy and Hy4Heat, to prepare for a community trial. Depending on how the trial goes, hydrogen heating could be an option for many by 2025. However, limitations caused by storage and transportation systems should not be underestimated.

Electric Radiators 

Ecostrad Allora Anthracite

Electric radiators generate heat through a combination of convection and radiation. This means that they heat the surrounding air as well as people and surfaces directly, providing fast, effective and lasting warmth. They’re also 100% efficient at point of use as every watt of energy taken from the wall is converted into usable heat, making them an ideal alternative to gas central heating.

Pros

Cons

  • 100% efficient at point of use.
  • Heats through convection and radiation, providing long-lasting warmth.
  • Most radiators can be fitted DIY style, so you won’t need to spend on installation costs.
  • Low maintenance. They don’t require any annual checks.
  • Many are fitted with precise digital thermostats for accurate temperature control.
  • Available with a range of energy-saving features, such as weekly programming, adaptive start and open window detection.
  • Some electric radiators come with intuitive smart control, like WiFi, Bluetooth and voice control. Increased controllability and temperature management.
  • Can be controlled on an individual basis, so you can set up a different temperature and heating schedule for every room in the house.
  • Electricity rates are slightly more expensive than gas rates.
  • You may need to put in some measures to prevent overloading your system.

 

Ecostrad iQ PlusBest suited for: Homeowners who want to quickly heat up a room but also give off long-lasting heat.

Verdict: With 2.2 million homes already using electric heating in the UK, this renewable alternative is likely to dominate the heating space in years to come. Incredibly versatile, electric radiators are suitable for any home and many of them are DIY-friendly, so you can avoid expensive installation costs. Advanced features like smart control, weekly programming and precise temperature management mean electric radiators offer a more efficient way to control your heating, ultimately reducing running costs and energy bills.

When it comes to the future of heating, electric radiators continue to lead the way as the most popular, ideal alternative to gas central heating. So why wait until 2025? Make the switch today with Electric Radiators Direct.

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Sources:

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Infographic-The-future-of-heating-in-UK-buildings-Committee-on-Climate-Change.pdf

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/5CB-Infographic-FINAL-.pdf

https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/boilers/uk-gas-boiler-ban

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/696273/HNIP_What_is_a_heat_network.pdf

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