The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, recently announced in the Spring Statement that the government “will Introduce a Future Homes Standard, mandating the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new houses from 2025”.
This means that in just six years it will be illegal to install a natural gas or oil boiler in a new build property. The news followed recommendations from the government’s advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), and is part of the government’s ongoing strategy to lower the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels).
Of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, 14% are generated by our homes, so phasing out oil and gas boilers in favour or renewable heating systems is an absolute must if we want to prevent climate change. Here, founder of Boiler Guide, David Holmes explains what the implications are for homeowners and explores some alternative solutions.
What does this mean for self-builders and renovators?
If you’re installing a heating system in a new build before 2025, there is currently no legislation preventing you from choosing an oil or natural gas boiler which is connected to the grid. Once the ban comes into effect, heating systems in newly built homes will need to use renewable sources of energy.
However, regardless of imminent legal restrictions, there are many other reasons why you should be considering a renewable heating system over fossil fuels. These systems are not only better for our planet, they could also be better for your wallet too.
If you’re interested in installing an environmentally friendly heating heating system rather than a gas or oil boiler, here are some of the renewable alternatives available on the market today.
Air source heat pumps look very much like air conditioning units which are installed outside the home and extract natural heat from the air to produce hot air (air-to-air heat pump) for space heating or hot water (air-to-water heat pump) for wet central heating systems.
In the case of an air-to-water heat pump, the external unit takes heat from the air even in outside temperatures as low as -20°C and passes it via a refrigerant liquid and heat exchanger to a cylinder of water inside your home. You then have a tank of hot water for your radiators, underfloor heating and taps.
Ground source heat pumps include 3 different parts which work together to extra heat from the ground and transfer it into the home. The ground loop is a length of piping which is buried between 15 to 150m underground. Water and antifreeze are circulated around the pipes, absorbing natural heating from the ground. This heat is passed through a heat exchanger via a heat pump to increase the temperature and then used to heat water in your cylinder.
To be able to perform to maximum capacity and as efficiently as possible, it’s crucial that your new build home is adequately insulated as hot water from these systems is not as hot as water produced by traditional boilers. For this reason, you’ll need to deliver the heat in your home from a larger surface area; heat pump systems are usually recommended alongside larger than average radiators (or a higher number of standard radiators) or underfloor heating. With the right insulation, larger radiators or underfloor heating, heat pumps are perfectly providing enough hot water for even large homes.
On average, it costs £9,000 – £13,000 for the supply and installation of an air source heat pump and £10,000 to £18,000 for a ground source heat pump.
Solar Thermal Panels
By installing an array of solar thermal panels on a roof you can generate hot water for a wet central heating system using energy from the sun. While solar PV panels, produce electricity for the home, solar thermal panels will heat water for your radiators, taps and showers.
As a rough estimation, a home for a family of four will need a solar thermal panel system which costs £3,000 – £5,000 to install, but a solar professional will need to be consulted.
Electric boilers are another potential alternative to gas boilers as they don’t produce carbon emissions when working, but they are not a completely green solution. If the electricity used to power them is generated by burning fossil fuels (rather than solar, water or wind power) they will still be contributing to the problem. Electric boilers are also significantly more expensive to run than gas boilers if powering them with electricity from a supplier:
Small 1-2 bedroom home
Medium 3-4 bedroom home
Large 5+ bedroom home
Average Annual Energy Usage for Heating
Average Annual Gas Costs (3.8p per kWh)
Average Annual Electricity Costs (14.4p per kWh)
However, if you pair an electric boiler with solar PV panels you can power them with free energy to bring these costs down significantly.
For more information about Boiler Guide, visit www.boilerguide.co.uk