The Confederation of British Industry has called for all new boiler installations to be hybrid by 2025, or the UK’s net-zero climate target will be missed.
The official CBI report makes 13 suggestions which will help towards the UK reaching its 2050 target, but phasing out gas and oil-fired boilers is perhaps the most radical and the one likely to have an impact on housebuilders and homeowners. Going further still, they also recommend that by 2035, no boilers burning any fossil gas should be installed into homes; instead the market should refocus on technology such as heat pumps and district heating.
Karan Bilimoria, the CBI president, said in an article by The Guardian: “A green recovery and progress towards the UK’s net-zero emission target are doomed to fail if we don’t address the urgent need to decarbonise the heat in our homes and buildings.”
The move would not only help towards the net-zero target but also help drive the economy forward in creating a new industry around district heating, something Bilimoria stressed “Aside from the moral imperative, there’s also a strong economic case for protecting our planet,” he added. “Large scale heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency would provide a huge jobs boost for the economy at a time when new career opportunities are needed more than ever.”
The government’s current pledge is to phase out gas-fired boilers in new builds by 2025, but the CBI’s recommendations go further, suggesting all homes and buildings should only be heated using heat pumps, hybrid boilers or boilers capable of operating on low carbon hydrogen by 2025. They also suggest that oil-fired boilers should be phased out earlier than planned, by 2023. Whilst the timescale might seem ambitious, heating accounts for more than a third of the UK’s domestic carbon footprint. Within those numbers, domestic buildings are responsible for roughly half of all heating emissions, with the majority currently heated by natural gas boilers.
The immediate effect on current UK homeowners will be negligible in the first instance, with the recommendations only applying to new build properties. However, it may be that some current homeowners want to react to the changes and install a new boiler ahead of any legislation being passed. That is not a major problem, although the cost of installing a new boiler should be considered before making any change. Some of the new technology might not be the cheapest right now, so if you are thinking of making a change to your heating system it is prudent to ensure you take every precaution necessary. Check for additional costs when installing alternative fuel source boilers, and make sure you are covered afterwards too. HomeServe advises homeowners to get additional boiler insurance, which is more prudent after a new installation has taken place because it can help cover costs if anything does go wrong. With new technology, expertise might not be as widespread as for existing installations, so any cover you have going forward can bring peace of mind as well as compliance with the government’s long-term wishes.
The focus on net-zero by 2050 does look likely to be missed without widespread change and sweeping reform, but the CBI recommendations are not mandated and may struggle to find support from an ailing housebuilding industry. The recent situation around the world saw sites grind to a halt and, as with any new technology, increased costs are feared, not only through new equipment and skills but also with a system such as district heating which would require cooperation with different organisations and bodies. However, homeowners building single plots, or renovating existing dwellings, would do well to consider embracing the new technology, especially if some form of government drive is created in the coming years to help refocus the effort.
For further reading on green boilers, be sure to check out our piece entitled DM Designs Ramps Green Credentials With New Biomass Boiler looking at one of the options which may be available to homeowners in the future.