The gas boiler ban has been extended until 2035, the government has announced.
Homeowners were advised that natural gas boilers were going to be phased out by 2025 in the push towards net zero, but this has now been pushed back to 2035 to allow homeowners more time to replace their fossil fuel heating systems with low-carbon alternatives.
Natural gas boilers are seen as one of the biggest barriers to the net zero target, and the government's target is for all new installations to use low-carbon technology, such as air source heat pumps by 2035.
This is everything you need to know about the gas boiler ban, and what it could mean for your home.
What is the gas boiler ban?
The gas boiler ban is part of the government's plan to gradually phase out gas boilers and replace them with more environmentally-friendly gas boiler alternatives.
It will affect those looking to install new boilers existing homes, with gas boilers no longer being permitted. However, there won't be an outright ban on gas boilers, and the Heat & Buildings Strategy confirmed that no one will be forced to remove them from their homes.
To help homeowners move away from natural gas, a Boiler Upgrade Scheme was also launched in April 2022, giving grants of up to £7,500 towards the cost of installing heat pump technology. This is to ensure sustainable heating alternatives cost the same to install as a gas boiler.
Why is there a gas boiler ban?
Banning the sale of fossil fuels is an inexorable step towards net zero. A gas boiler ban was announced by the government in 2019 to improve the energy efficiency of the 29 million homes in the UK, only one million of which use low-carbon heating systems, according to the Climate Change Committee (CCC).
Natural gas boilers are seen as one of the biggest barriers to the net zero target — they produce 58.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, compared to 27 million cars emitting 56 million tons annually, the National Housing Federation says.
This makes homes a bigger threat to the climate than cars, and poor insulation and gas central heating systems are commonly to blame for heat loss in homes. Slashing these greenhouse gas emissions and any remaining emissions offset would dramatically slow the impact of climate change.
Why has the gas boiler ban been extended?
The gas boiler ban was originally set to take place from 2025. But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the rollout of the gas boiler ban would be postponed by 10 years until 2035.
"I will provide individuals with significantly more time to undertake the necessary transition to heat pumps," he said. "I will never compel anyone to remove their current boiler and substitute it with a heat pump."
Ian Rippin, CEO, MCS, the standards organisation expressed his disappointment at the deadline extension to 2035. He stated: "The crucial aspect of assisting consumers in making informed, environmentally friendly choices is clarity, and altering the timelines at this juncture risks causing confusion among homeowners and businesses regarding the appropriate course of action."
For new homes, it has been expected as part of the Future Homes Standard that no new homes will be able to connect the gas network as part of the gas boiler ban. Instead, they will be equipped with energy-efficient insulation and heated by a low-carbon heating source.
But the government said in the Heat & Buildings Strategy that it now plans to consult on whether it is "appropriate" to prevent new build homes from being connected to the gas grid in England from 2035.
What gas boiler alternatives are there?
Heat pumps offer a climate-friendly heating solution as an alternative to natural gas boilers, however, they are, at present, an expensive technology to install comparatively, with the cost of installing an air source heat pump or ground source heat pumps can range between £6,000-£18,000.
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme will see new grants of £7,500 available to homeowners installing heat pumps. In some cases, such as with the installation of an air source heat pump, this could bring the cost of installation to a similar level as that of a new gas boiler.
There are also biomass boilers, which homeowners can also get a £5,000 grant for under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
While the Boiler Upgrade Scheme is only set to run for three years, the Heat & Buildings Strategy also outlines that the government will work with industry to bring down the cost of heat pumps, ensuring they cost the same to buy and run as gas boilers by 2030.
This includes a £60 million Heat Pump Ready innovation fund to make heat pumps smaller and more cost effective, as well as plans to reduce the cost of electricity over the next decade, shifting the burden of levies from electricity to gas.
Michael Lewis, Chief Executive of E.ON UK said: "With the right policy framework in place, we’re confident the cost of a heat pump can be reduced by up to half over the coming years."
Hydrogen heating is another route that the government is exploring for de-carbonising home heating, however, the strategy outlines that a decision on the future of hydrogen in the energy mix won't be decided until 2026, informed by the results of the Hydrogen Village pilot scheme.
The government's Hydrogen Strategy published in August revealed the government's intentions to consult later this year on the case for enabling, or requiring, new natural gas boilers to be easily convertible to use hydrogen (‘hydrogen-ready’) by 2026.
A hydrogen-ready boiler is intended to be a like-for-like swap for an existing gas boiler, and while long-term running costs are unknown, experts estimate that installation costs will range between £1,500 and £5,000.
Hydrogen boilers are not yet available, despite the remarkable developments of 100% hydrogen boilers in the UK from Baxi Heating and Worcester Bosch.
Other replacements for your gas boiler include:
Will my energy bills go up?
The Heat and Buildings Strategy has proposed shifting levies from electricity to gas in order to reduce the running costs of heat pumps. How this will operate is unclear, however, it does mean that energy price rises could continue.
Heat pumps are are three to four times more efficient than traditional boilers, according to the Energy Saving Trust, and a standard air source heat pump installed in an average-sized, four-bedroom detached house would be between £395 and £425 cheaper to run a year than an old “G-rated” gas boiler.
What was the Gas Boiler Scrappage Scheme?
The Gas Boiler Scrappage Scheme was announced by the government in 2009 to help 125,000 homes with a G-rated boiler update to a modern condensing boiler. This was designed to help them reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions.
The voucher scheme was discontinued in 2010 due to funding problems, but you can still find assistance to help lower the cost of replacing an old boiler:
- Energy Company Obligation (ECO): this is offered to low-income and vulnerable households to improve their heating through insulation, heating controls and replacing inefficient and broken boilers
- Boiler finance: some private lenders will pay for your new boiler in monthly instalments over 3, 5, 7 or 10 years
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News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals. Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.
- Jack WoodfieldNews Editor