Are gas boilers being phased out? Everything you need to know about the “gas boiler ban”
10 September 2021 | Aimee Tweedale
When it comes to lowering your carbon footprint, you might have considered going veggie or quitting flying. But you might be surprised to find out that for many of us, our biggest carbon culprit is something we use every day: the household boiler.
Gas boilers are responsible for a huge amount of carbon emissions here in the UK. That means they’re contributing to the climate crisis, and stopping the UK from reaching its all-important goal of net zero emissions.
That’s why, after years hidden in cupboards all over the nation, boilers are suddenly having their moment in the spotlight. There’s been a lot of talk lately about a UK “gas boiler ban”, as the government discusses how to phase out boilers and replace them with newer, greener technology.
But what exactly has been announced, and how will it affect you? Keep reading for the lowdown on the so-called gas boiler ban.
What is the “gas boiler ban”?
The phrase gas boiler ban is being used in the media a lot lately. That’s because the UK government is expected to ban the installation of gas boilers at some point in the future.
But the government hasn’t actually confirmed this ban yet. Here’s what we know about the future of gas boilers in the UK right now.
When are gas boilers being phased out?
The UK government has announced that there will be a ban on gas boilers in new homes from 2025.
This means that gas and oil boilers will be banned in new builds only. But older homes that still have boilers won’t be affected.
This policy was shared by the then-chancellor Philip Hammond, back in 2019. Earlier this year it was confirmed by Boris Johnson’s government. It’s still on its way through parliament, and hasn’t yet been passed into law.
But will all gas boilers be banned? That’s a subject that’s still up for debate.
The CBI (Confederation of British Industry – a group representing thousands of UK businesses) has recommended a total gas boiler ban in 2025. Their report, published in 2020, said that the UK won’t hit its net zero target unless we stop installing new gas boilers in 4 years’ time.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has also recommended that no new fossil fuel-guzzling boilers should be sold from 2025.
Some climate experts have said that delaying the gas boiler ban any later than the mid-2030s would be “unthinkable”.
But this is all just advice. Boris Johnson hasn’t yet announced when the installation of new gas boilers will be banned. We’ll probably find out more when the government publishes its Heat and Buildings Strategy in autumn 2021.
Who will be affected by the gas boiler ban?
From 2025, anyone building or buying a new build home will be affected. New homes completed from 2025 onwards are expected to use low-carbon heating systems, instead of traditional boilers.
As for everybody else, we don’t know yet when the rules on gas boilers will change. Once they do, if your gas boiler conks out, you may not be able to replace it with a new gas one. You’ll have to choose an eco-friendly alternative instead.
Keep scrolling to the bottom of this page to find out more about what will replace gas boilers.
Is oil central heating being phased out too?
Yes. Just like gas boilers, oil boilers are expected to be banned in new-build homes from 2025.
Why? Because, just like natural gas, oil is a fossil fuel. This means that oil central heating systems have a similar environmental impact to gas. According to the IEA, both oil and gas central heating systems combined are responsible for about a fifth of the carbon emissions from the US and UK1.
Why are gas boilers being phased out?
Gas and oil boilers are being phased out because they’re bad for the environment.
Burning either gas or oil releases carbon dioxide (often just called carbon for short). Carbon is a greenhouse gas, and releasing it into the atmosphere drives climate change.
As much as 28% of your personal carbon footprint comes from the energy you use to power your home2.
What would a gas boiler ban mean for me?
In 2025, gas and oil boilers will be banned in new-build homes. This won’t affect the old boiler in your airing cupboard, though. While the government’s discussing options, there are no current confirmed plans to phase out the gas boilers in existing homes.
At some point in the future, this may change. The UK government could bring in a law to make it illegal to replace your old gas or oil boiler with a new one when it breaks down.
This would mean that you’d have to replace it with a low-carbon alternative instead – maybe a heat pump, or electric storage heaters. Keep reading to find out more about the options.
How many gas boilers are there in the UK?
A whopping 86% of homes in the UK use gas as fuel for heating3. It’s estimated about 29 million homes across the UK currently have gas or oil-fired central heating systems4.
What are the alternatives to gas central heating?
When gas boilers are phased out, what will replace them? It’s an important question, and there’s no definitive answer yet. But there are a few different options that are worth getting excited about.
Here’s a quick guide to some of the leading gas boiler alternatives right now.
- Air source heat pumps: These nifty pumps take energy from the air outside your home, and transform it into heat. Ground source heat pumps work similarly, but they take their energy from – you guessed it – the ground!
- Hybrid heating systems: Just like a hybrid car, this combines the old (a gas boiler) with the new (a heat pump).
- Infrared heating panels: These panels look like radiators, but they emit infrared energy as heat.
- Solar thermal panels: Like regular solar panels, these take their energy from the sun – then, they use it to heat water in your home.
- Biomass boilers and stoves: Instead of gas or oil, these boilers burn biomass, which is another word for wood and organic materials.
- Solar-powered electric heating: Solar panels turn sunlight into energy. This can then be used to generate electricity to power your heating system.
Join OVO on our mission to decarbonise home heating
Here at OVO, we’re on a mission to green up the grid and cut the carbon out of home energy. If you want to join us, consider switching today. We power all our members’ homes with 100% renewable electricity5, and we plant a tree for every member, every year6.
Want to go even further? OVO Beyond is our even greener add-on. It comes with 100% carbon-neutral energy7, and 5 extra trees planted for you each year!
Sources and references:
2 Based on analysis carried out by the Carbon Trust for OVO Group (2020), 28% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in the UK comes from energy. In this analysis, the carbon footprint includes the following lifestyle categories: energy, transport, shopping, food and drink and holidays. This carbon footprint data has been calculated using BEIS 2020 emission factors. This excludes emissions from things that the average person cannot directly control such as supporting the NHS, defence, government bodies, etc. Please note these figures are not reflective of potential changes to your habits during the coronavirus pandemic.
5 100% of the renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.
6 Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change.
7 Enjoy even greener energy with OVO Beyond in comparison with our standard OVO plans. In addition to 100% renewable electricity as available with our standard plans, OVO Beyond reduces your yearly carbon emissions from the energy used in your home that is supplied by OVO to net zero by providing 100% carbon-neutral gas (15% green gas and 85% offset) and offsetting all associated lifecycle carbon emissions involved in the production and consumption of your electricity & gas, you will also get 5 trees per year in UK schools and communities and other green benefits. The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. The green gas we sell is backed via renewable certificates (Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin (RGGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin and how these work. We offset the remaining emissions by supporting UN REDD+ carbon reduction projects that are certified to the Verified Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard. See here for more information on how we restore nature and protect rainforests with our offsetting programmes.