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The extinction of the gas boiler


A gas cooker or hob, gas-fired central heating boiler, or the gas fire in your sitting room all look set for extinction following an announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond in March.

Included in the Chancellor’s spring statement was the pledge that from the year 2025, gas-fired systems would be replaced by environmentally friendlier methods such as heat pumps, according to a story in the Guardian newspaper on the 13th of March.

The move away from gas to alternative systems such as low-carbon heat pumps and heat networks has been prompted by the government’s targets on the reduction of carbon emissions to counter rampant climate change. The current target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050, compared to levels in 1990.

An estimated 14% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from residential homes – mainly from gas central heating boilers.

The Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change, for example, has argued that up to 2.5 million heat pumps could be built into new homes by the year 2030, said a story in Ideal Home magazine on the 21st of March

There are already signs, however, that the unexpected measure of banning gas-fired cooking and heating in homes will please no one. Environmental pressure groups are saying that the Chancellor’s proposals do not go far enough, said the Guardian. On the other hand, housebuilders have pointed to the greater cost (an estimated £4,800 in a new home, and £26,300 in an existing property) and reduced effectiveness of alternative systems, which often require larger radiators in homes and are less responsive to increased demand during cold snaps.

The implications 

Any scrapping of the use of gas – even in new-build properties only – is clearly going to affect any homeowner.

That also includes landlords, of course, for whom the implications are spelled out in further detail by Landlord Today on the 29th of March.

Landlord Today takes the view that, despite the greater upfront costs, the extinction of gas supplies to new rental properties after 2025 might actually benefit both landlords and tenants in the longer term – and, of course, the environment.

Alternative heating systems rely on renewable energy, which is in large part entirely free and immediately reduces the cost of tenants’ heating bills. Low-carbon heat pumps and heat networks are also said to require little maintenance and are less likely to breakdown than conventional gas-fired boilers – so landlords benefit from fewer call outs to service engineers to fix broken systems.

Alternative systems will still need to be serviced on a regular basis, but landlords may also benefit from doing away with the hassle and expense of the current requirement for annual gas safety inspections.

As with many other examples of a switch to alternative forms of energy, the biggest implications lie in the initial cost of installation. 

It is not only the cost of installing a heat pump, for example, but the extra expense of providing much higher levels of insulation to make it work as effectively as possible. Hot water produced from alternative systems is simply not as hot as that produced by a conventional gas boiler. 

Upgraded insulation, bigger radiators, and perhaps underfloor heating may all need to be incorporated into owner-occupied or let housing after 2025.