With a potential ban on oil boilers looming, homeowners are being forced to look at oil boiler alternatives. And many are asking: what will replace oil boilers in 2025?
The Prime Minister announced plans to ban oil boilers in off-the-grid homes – mostly rural – as part of the UK Government’s drive towards net-zero.
The ban was planned to be implemented in 2026 and could force around 1.5 million households to turn to eco-friendly alternatives such as ground or air source heat pumps.
Oil boiler alternatives: What will replace oil boilers in 2025?
The proposed oil boiler ban would force owners homes with oil boilers to seek alternative sources of heating.
Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives to suit every property and every budget.
1) Ground source heat pumps
Ground source heat pumps capture natural heat from the ground and then distribute it into the home's heating system.
Running costs are likely to be around 45% lower compared to a natural gas boiler, according to energy expert and Homebuilding & Renovating contributor Tim Pullen.
However, they can be expensive to install, costing between £2,000 to £15,000, depending on size and brand, and are generally only suitable for homes with outdoor space for tubes that need to be buried below ground and the interior space for the hot water cylinder.
2. Air source heat pumps
Air source heat pumps move heat from one place to another using a compressor and a circulating structure of liquid or gas refrigerant to extract heat from the outside air and pump it indoors using electricity.
However, concerns have been raised about the cost of installation and how suitable they are for some homes, especially considering the UK’s aging and energy-inefficient housing stock.
Some experts advise that heat pumps should only be installed in insulated buildings because the technology’s efficiency is higher when the flow temperature from the heat pump is lower. A heat pump in a poorly insulated building will cost more to run and have higher carbon emissions.
Also consider hybrid heat pumps, which offer a halfway house if you’re looking to replace your boiler. They essentially comprise a heat pump and another heat source (such as a boiler) that are combined into one system.
3. Hydrogen-ready boilers
Hydrogen-ready boilers use a combination of natural gas and hydrogen. They are undergoing trials in the UK to assess their safety and efficacy and are expected to be rolled out between 2023 and 2025.
4. Biomass boilers
Biomass boilers, also known as wood-fuelled heating systems, burn logs and wood chips or pellets to run central heating, hot water boilers, or to heat a single room.
They are growing in popularity but are not widely installed throughout the UK. It is estimated that less than 5% of the UK’s homes use them – but this figure is expected to grow in the next decade.
At first glance, burning wood may seem archaic and not at all carbon-efficient, but biomass boilers burn significantly less than fossil fuels.
5. Hybrid solar panels
As the sun shines on the panel, the light is absorbed by the PV cells and the heat is absorbed by the solar thermal element. They do not take up as much space as PV or thermal panels, making them ideal for homes with smaller roofs.
Energy expert and Homebuilding & Renovating contributor David Hilton says you can expect to pay around £10,000 for a 4kWp system, buts adds the cost will depend on factors such as the manufacturer, components required, and installation fees.
6. Infrared heating panels
Infrared heating panels are an alternative to a central heating system that is typically easier to install. The panels emit infrared energy which is absorbed into solid objects, and the thermal mass of these objects have the ability to hold three times more energy than air, so infrared heating will level out any rises and dips in your home’s temperature.
What is the best replacement for oil heating?
There is no single ‘best’ replacement for oil heating, as the optimal replacement solution for one property may be inappropriate for another.
Installing some oil boiler alternatives can have wide-ranging benefits for homeowners, including lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint.
However, it is wise to seek the advice of a heating professional, especially considering the UK’s aging and energy-inefficient housing stock.
Are oil boilers going to be banned?
New oil boilers could be banned from rural homes in 2026, 10 years before oil boilers in other regions are to be replaced.
The oil boiler ban is set to be included in the Energy Security Bill, which is due to be announced later this year.
However, the decision has been met with significant opposition from some politicians, who have expressed concerns about costs to rural homeowners.
Fears have also been raised that the ban is coming too soon and the National Grid will not be able to cope with the increased demands for electric heating due to a lack of electricity grid and capacity-trained installers and engineers.
Get the Homebuilding & Renovating Newsletter
Bring your dream home to life with expert advice, how to guides and design inspiration. Sign up for our newsletter and get two free tickets to the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show (21-24 March, NEC, Birmingham).
Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world. As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.