Gas boilers have served us well in the past, but in line with the UK Government’s green initiative; the question many of us are asking is, what will replace gas boilers in 2025?
It is clear that UK consumers need a new, efficient and sustainable form of heating for their homes. The UK Government has set out targets to reach net zero carbon by 2050. With home heating accounting for over 30% of all carbon emissions, the way we heat our homes needs to change. The good news is there is a range of energy efficient heating solutions and in this article, we examine the best sustainable options available to replace gas boilers.
First things first…
Are gas boilers being banned?
The UK Government has announced the ban of gas boilers in all new homes by 2025 to help combat climate change. Domestic gas boilers emit twice as much carbon dioxide as all power stations in the UK, reducing air quality and having a significant effect on climate change.
It has been reported that the use of gas in homes could be phased out by mid 2030s but eco-conscious consumers are already making the decision to switch to more sustainable forms of domestic heating, including electric radiators and electric boilers.
What are the best alternatives to gas central heating?
While old habits are hard to give up, customers have a range of options to consider when deciding to switch away from an old and inefficient gas boiler. But with so many options to choose from, and each manufacturer claiming their product is the most efficient and viable for your home; What will replace the trusted old gas boiler in your home?
Air Source Heat pumps.
Air Source Heat pumps are being pushed heavily by the UK government as the main replacement for gas boilers.
How do air source heat pumps work?
Think of how a fridge works and then reverse it. For a bit of extra detail, the air source heat pump extracts heat from the air, where a compressor then increases the temperature. Finally, the heat is transferred into the heating system in your home.
The air source heat pump is powered by electricity and if the electricity comes from a renewable source, this solution would be a sustainable form of domestic heating.
There are 3 main types of heat pumps currently available on the market:
Ground-source heat pump – A ground source heat pump utilises the heat underground, and absorbs the heat through pipes installed beneath your garden. They provide both hot water and heating within your home.
Air-to-water heat pump – An air-to-water heat pump absorbs heat from the air and in turns heats the water to provide heating via a central heating system. This heat pump also provides both hot water and heating within your home.
Air-to-air heat pump – An air-to-air heat pump does not provide hot water. It only utilises the heat from the air to provide warmth through a circulation system like vents and ducts.
Heat pumps are reported to have a lifespan of up to 15 years compared to 10-12 years for a gas boiler.
Heat pumps can utilise renewable energy making them a sustainable form of domestic heating.
Government grants will be available, although it is worth bearing in mind that the available money will not come close to covering the actual cost of installing an air source heat pump.
What are the disadvantages of Heat Pumps?
Heat pumps may require larger radiators to heat your home efficiently.
The compressor tends to be noisy making them potentially unsuitable for flats/apartments and terraced houses. (You may annoy the neighbours)!
Higher installation fees and the installation itself could be disruptive.
Heat pumps may not be as effective during winter months.
Heat pumps are not suitable for the majority of UK homes that suffer from poor levels of insulation.
Heat pumps cannot provide the same levels of heat and comfort that an electric heating system could provide.
Will Heat Pumps replace gas boilers and be the future of domestic heating?
Although heat pumps are efficient, they have not proven to be as effective during winter months (when we need heating the most). They do perform well in insulated new build homes but the majority of UK homes are not insulated to that standard. Unless the insulation of millions of UK homes is vastly improved, it is unlikely that heat pumps are the answer when it comes to replacing gas boilers in UK homes.
Heat networks, also called district heating, consists of a distribution system of insulated pipes that transports heat from an external source, delivering it to a number of domestic and commercial properties. The source could be a combined heat and power plant that provides a dedicated supply to the heat network. The source of heat could also be heat recovered from industry and urban infrastructure, canals and rivers, or energy from waste plants- facilitating an ergonomic use of energy.
Heat networks could help reduce domestic heating bills.
Heat networks are a space-saving solution as you have no use for a boiler in your home.
This solution is supported by the UK Government as a low-carbon form of domestic heating and countries like Denmark have successfully implemented heat networks.
Disadvantages of Heat Networks.
The fan and the compressor of the heat networks could be noisy for some consumers.
Heat networks would only work well in densely populated areas (urban areas) and not rural areas.
Although the pipes are insulated, heat can be lost underground.
Heat networks are a fairly newer technology in the UK domestic heating industry. A number of tests and trails are yet to be conducted.
Will Heat Networks replace gas boilers and be the future of domestic heating?
Heat networks are only suitable for urban areas. In a grand scheme of things, although the UK Government is investing millions into this technology, the future of heat networks being a viable heating solution in the UK is still uncertain. Based on what we currently know, it seems unlikely that heat networks will replace gas boilers in UK homes.
Similar to a gas boiler, a hydrogen boiler burns hydrogen instead of natural gas to produce heat. This heat is then used to heat water and provide central heating.
Advantages of Hydrogen Boilers.
Has the potential to be a sustainable and renewable form of domestic heating.
Existing gas boilers could be converted in order to utilise hydrogen as a fuel- reducing installation costs. (Although this would come at a cost).
Hydrogen is non-toxic as compared to fossil fuels and burning it does not produce carbon.
In short, no one really knows if a hydrogen boiler is a viable or realistic option. As it stands, 100% hydrogen-ready boilers are unavailable in the UK.
Green hydrogen is very expensive to produce and will not be feasible for many UK consumers. Also, hydrogen boilers are not as efficient as electric boilers.
Hydrogen is highly flammable and difficult to store and transport.
Will Hydrogen Boilers replace gas boilers and be the future of domestic heating?
At the time of writing, it looks highly unlikely that hydrogen boilers will replace gas boilers as the home heating choice for UK homes. The many difficulties in creating enough ‘green hydrogen’ may prove too challenging to overcome to make hydrogen a viable choice.
The typical electric radiator radiates heat stored within a heat-retaining medium, usually a thermal fluid or ceramic. Electric panel radiators on the other hand use convection (heating the air circulating within an enclosed area).
Most electric radiators simply plug into a socket and are easy to install. An efficient electric radiator will utilize conducted heat, convected heat, radiant heat and stored heat. Night storage radiators have bricks within them to store heat. But modern electric radiators use more effective heat-retaining materials like Fischer’s chamotte clay-core.
Modern electric radiators are designed to distribute heat efficiently throughout the room.
Electric radiators are 100% efficient at the point of use and can be controlled using a wireless thermostat or Wi-Fi-controlled using an app. This helps maintain an accurate temperature control and optimise comfort and warmth.
Compared to gas boilers, electric radiators are low-maintenance and do not require annual servicing. Modern radiators can also be programmed with a wide-array of energy saving features.
Electric heating also has no primary carbon footprint making it an eco-friendly heating alternative to gas boilers.
What are the disadvantages of Electric Radiators?
It’s no secret that electricity prices are higher than gas prices so some homeowners may see an increase in running costs. But with gas prices rocketing and reports of a change in how levies are placed on gas and electricity, these costs could soon be comparable.
Consumers may need to take some preventive measures, so that the electric system in the house does not overload.
Will Electric Radiators replace gas boilers and be the future of domestic heating?
Unlike hydrogen boilers and heat networks, electric radiators have a proven track record as an efficient, safe and viable solution for domestic heating. With an efficiency of 100% (at the point of use) and no primary carbon footprint, electric radiators are an ideal replacement for gas boilers.
Unlike air source heat pumps, electric radiators work well in flats where space is a major concern, and are also suitable for rural properties who are not connected to the gas network.
An electric boiler works on a similar principle to a gas boiler, except it uses electricity as an energy source. Just like electric radiators, an electric boiler is 100% efficient at the point of use and can provide both heating and hot water within your home. Homeowners can use existing wet radiators and simply swap out the old gas boiler and install a new electric one.
As mentioned earlier, electric heating has no primary carbon footprint, making electric boilers an eco-friendly and sustainable form of domestic heating.
Advantages of Electric Boilers.
100% efficient at the point of use and environment-friendly.
Electric boilers can be controlled using a wireless thermostat. This helps you to be in control of your heating and hot water at all times. An accurate temperature control facilitates an efficient use of energy.
With most electric boilers, you can keep your existing wet radiators and simply switch out your fossil fuel boiler with an efficient electric boiler.
Unlike fossil fuels boilers, electric boilers do not require annual servicing and maintenance.
Electric boilers also do not require an external tank or cylinder and modern boilers also have a fast heat up and quick recovery times.
Disadvantages of Electric Boilers.
Higher unit price of electricity. Although this may soon change in line with the UK Government’s green initiative and an increase in the gas levies.
Depending on the size of the electric boiler, you may need a 3-phase power supply.
Will Electric Boilers be the future of domestic heating?
Electric boilers are an efficient and viable form of domestic heating thanks to the added benefit of working within an existing wet radiator system. Electric boilers can utilize renewable energy, making it a sustainable source of heating and are incredibly low maintenance, saving the homeowner money on annual servicing and repairs.
The Future Is Electric?
Our planet has served us well, providing us with an abundance of resources. As a civilization we have exploited its resources and now the planet is in dire straits. We need to act fast in order to prevent further deterioration.
Fossil fuel boilers that use gas or oil are a major cause of these emissions.
Here at Fischer, we are unapologetic in our push for low-carbon heating solutions and are proud to be at the forefront of the renewable heating sector.
Over the last 5 years, the UK’s total share of electricity being generated from renewables has increased by 20%. Using renewable electricity with our sustainable products is a smart choice made by eco-conscious customers.