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Will Heat Pumps Replace Boilers Entirely?

In order to meet their target of net zero by 2050, the government has already started to make changes to rules around the way in which we heat our homes and buildings, including the Gas Boiler Ban 2025. But what will replace them?

Read Time : 3 Mins

Author : NED

In order to meet their target of net zero by 2050, the government has already started to make changes to rules around the way in which we heat our homes and buildings. This is because central heating contributes to around 30% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions, making it one of the biggest targets for change.

What Government Measures are Already in Place?

So far, the government has announced that there will be a ban on all new domestic gas boilers being installed in newbuilds from 2025 onwards in order to start the transition to cleaner and renewable energy across the UK.

Additionally, the government is also encouraging the owners of existing homes to make the switch by offering grants or incentives for insulation homes and using low-carbon heating methods.

What are the Alternatives to Gas Boilers?

Heat Pumps

A heat pump is a two-compartment device that works by using refrigeration technology to extract natural heat from a cold space outside the home, compress it to a higher temperature and then pass over a hot coolant to increase the temperature further and accommodate the thermostatic call for heat inside the home.

Heat pumps are incredibly efficient, especially when combined with solar panels to power them. The government recently announced it would be providing £5,000 grants to homeowners who install heat pumps from April 2022 under the new £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

This means heat pumps will likely become the most common heating method for newbuilds from 2025 onwards, however, many people in existing homes are hesitant to make the switch due to concerns over the cost and reliability of them. Heat pumps typically start out at around £6,000 for an air source pump and £10,000 for a ground source pump, meaning homeowners will have to fork out a minimum of £1,000 even with a grant from the government.

Additionally, the running costs of a heat pump can be 50% higher than the cost to run a gas boiler due to the cost of electricity which includes carbon taxes and subsidies to support low-carbon energy projects.

Infrared Heating Panels

Infrared heating panels work by emitting infrared energy which is absorbed by solid objects in the home causing the molecules to vibrate and warm the object, person or room. This is a highly effective heating method and the perfect solution for individuals with allergies as it doesn’t circulate the air in the way other heating systems do.

The drawbacks of infrared heating panels are that they aren’t as effective if objects are placed between the panels and people and they only have a short range of 3 metres.

Electric Boilers

These work in a very similar way to a gas boiler except they use electricity to power the boiler instead of gas.

In the same way as heat pumps aren’t completely carbon-free when the electricity is produced through burning fossil fuels, electric boilers aren’t either, unless you invest in renewable sources such as solar panels.

Although they work in similar ways, there are some disadvantages of having electric boilers compared with gas ones, such as their inability to meet the heating and hot water demands of large properties and the high cost of electricity compared to natural gas.

The average cost of gas fuel in England, Scotland and Wales (per kilowatt-hour) is 4.17p, whereas electricity can cost anywhere between 9.76p-20.03p. This makes the prospect of choosing electricity over gas in existing homes unlikely, especially with approximately 3.2 million UK households expected to be in fuel poverty in 2019.

Solar Thermal Panels

Solar thermal panels work by absorbing heat from the sun in solar collectors which are fitted to the roof. The heated water is then transferred to your hot water tank where it is then ready to use. Unfortunately, solar thermal panels won’t be able to meet a typical household’s heating demands on its own, so they tend to be used alongside infrared heating panels or heat pumps.

The system can be installed on flat or slanted roofs and can be mounted to walls. They can also be installed alongside your existing gas boiler to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Some drawbacks of solar thermal heating, however, are that most people tend to use their heating and hot water during the mornings and evenings whilst the solar energy panels only receive solar energy during the daytime (sometimes only for a few hours during winter).

This means that any water heated by solar energy must be saved up for later use in an additional hot water cylinder, something which may not be suitable for smaller homes with limited space.

For more advice on domestic, corporate and industrial gas, electricity and water take a look at our other helpful guides or get in touch with our team at National Energy Direct today.

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