As part of the UK governments push for a carbon neutral future, there are plans to ban the sale of gas boilers from 2023. However, since the announcement, the date on the ban has been removed from the Build Back Better 10-point plan.
It’s currently unclear when the gas boiler ban will come into effect, and how realistic the targets to reduce carbon will be.
With 29 million home owners in the UK, and only a million using low carbon heating methods, it’s going to be a huge task to meet proposed deadlines.
What are the alternatives?
It’s all well and good phasing out fossil fuel energy, but people still need to heat their homes. How efficient and cost effective are the environmentally friendly alternatives for consumers?
Energy generated by renewable resources passed 43% in 2020, which is excellent news for those using electricity to keep their home warm. Compared to gas boilers, which are known for energy loss, electric boilers are 100% efficient. However, price per kWh is still higher than gas, making electricity less affordable.
|Average electricity cost per kwh||14.37p|
|Average gas cost per kwh||3.80p|
Even with companies like Octopus Energy, who are 100% renewable, customers are paying 4 times more. With prices for electricity much higher than gas, it will be a challenge to convince homeowners to change.
The list of energy saving products continues to grow each year.
Another alternative to gas is energy sourced from heat pumps. There are two types.
Air source heat pumps use a fan to draw in the surrounding air, and transfer it through a heat exchanger. It’s like a refrigerator or air conditioner, but in reverse.
The second type of heat pump isn’t as easy to install. Ground source heat pumps use heat generated in the ground. However, to reach this heat, land needs to be found to lay groundwork, and pipes need to be installed. This is less of an issue for homes with a garden, or land surrounding the property, but what about flats?
If a large number of flats are drawing energy from the same pipework, ground source heat pumps may struggle to keep up with demand.
Looking at the following benefits, Hydrogen appears to be a good option for a greener world.
- Highly efficient (1kg of hydrogen can produce as much energy as 2.8kg of natural gas)
- No carbon emissions from hydrogen boilers (only produce water vapour and heat)
- Can be used in current gas network
Having said that, there are many types of hydrogen, and some types have issues.
Green hydrogen produces zero emissions and is considered the cleanest type. However, electricity is needed to produce green hydrogen. Using wind and solar to produce this electricity is the best option, but can renewables meet capacity?
Blue hydrogen has also been considered by the government, but a recent study has revealed that blue hydrogen may give off more emissions than gas.
Blue hydrogen is made from fossil gas and could be 20% worse for the environment, compared to the gas most homes currently use.
Another issue with hydrogen is that it’s difficult to store and move around. It’s also very flammable, and could be a risky source of energy when used commercially or at home.
The cost of a green future
There are many benefits to using alternative energy to run our home. Less carbon emissions. Reduced energy bills (over time). Cleaner air and environment.
But these alternatives are not cheap. Replacing boilers, installing heat pumps and storing renewables, can run into thousands of pounds.
Schemes such as the Green Homes Grant have helped homeowners become more energy efficient, in the past. But is this enough? The fact is, most families can’t afford to make the changes needed to meet government targets.
What this means for plumbers
For plumbers, the market has never looked better. With most firms struggling to keep up with demand, the industry is crying our for new talent. The opportunities for multi-skilled plumbers is set to skyrocket over the next 10 years. With earnings for new recruits reaching £150,000 in 2021, saving the planet has never been so profitable.