Gas may seem like a cheaper solution for heating your home, but is it really?

People often say that their existing gas or oil boilers are cheaper, which deters them from electric boilers, but what are the indirect costs of having a gas boiler? There are many, alongside the fact that they are simply unsustainable. Gas or oil may be immediately cheaper to the consumer, however we shouldn’t forget its cost to the environment- a cost which is far greater and long term than people want to believe.

Gas and oil are a finite resource which we mostly import from other countries, and when burnt, release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. These gases damage the ozone layer of the earth’s atmosphere, making it more impermeable to UV rays from the sun. This results in less sunlight being reflected off the earth’s surface and back into space. This principle is what drives global warming, and in 2020 we are already feeling the impact of this through an increased frequency of extreme weather. Do we really want to continue the use of gas and oil if these are the detrimental consequences caused? Who actually pays for it?

The UK government have certainly taken this on board and have recently announced that gas boilers will be banned in all newly built homes by 2023, instead of the previously proposed date of 2025. Heating is the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK, making up more than one-third of the total, so the government know that action must be taken sooner rather than later, in order to achieve their goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

So when people argue that gas is cheaper, we must pose the question of whether that singlehandedly makes it a better choice of fuel. There are indirect costs and consequences of a society reliant on gas boilers in their homes. Firstly, the government use taxpayer’s money to repair and fix damage caused by environmental disasters, which the use of gas boilers contribute towards. In the 2020 budget, the government announced that it will double its investment in flood and coastal defences in England to £5.2 billion over the next six years. Secondly, in major cities gas boilers are also a main source of nitrogen dioxide emissions. Decreasing air quality is only going to cause an increase in respiratory health conditions, which in turn increases the risk of premature death, leading to a rise in NHS costs.

The UK’s generation of electricity is already moving towards renewables and nuclear, which will increase air quality and the health of all Brits. Our energy security will also strengthen if we as a nation are able to meet our electricity demand without the need of imported fossil fuels. Furthermore, moving the ban of petrol and diesel car sales to a sooner 2030 is also another move as part of the prime minister’s green plan. If the government are showing clear signs of wanting to shift to a greener future, we must also support that by making greener choices ourselves, like the installation of electric boilers, so that we can all live more sustainable lives that not only benefit us, but benefit the planet.