No more gas boilers

Posted by Derek Mason

26th April 2022

Photo credit: James Feaver on Unsplash

No more gas boilers, as the Future Homes and Buildings Standard aims to cut carbon emissions by up to 80%.

An end to gas boilers, better insulation and space for hot water storage are all expected to be included in The Future Homes Standard, which was renamed the Future Homes and Building Standard at the start of 2022.

It’s interesting that the very idea of no longer relying on fossil fuels to heat homes still sounds somewhat futuristic. The first ground source heat pump was developed in the 1940s, but gas boilers still dominate the market.

However that trend is set to change in new homes from 2025, when the new legislation will come into force. The government is expected to announce that new homes in England will no longer be connected to the gas grid, but this is not yet set in stone.

It may be that current world events have some impact on this decision, as governments are keen to be less reliant on fossil fuels.

The first of these major building regulations changes are happening in June 2022, when new homes in England will be expected to produce 30% less carbon emissions, and new buildings including shops and offices will have to reduce emissions by 27%.

This will pave the way for even greater cuts in 2025, when new homes will be expected to produce 75-80% less carbon emissions than the homes being built according to current building regs.

Existing homes will be affected too, where homeowners are building an extension or making thermal upgrades.

The new regulations are designed so that new homes will be net zero ready from 2025 and will not require any retrofitting. This is part of the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as per the amendments made to the Climate Change Act back in 2019.

According to the Climate Change Committee, buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of greenhouse gases in the UK, with roughly 14% of these emissions coming from our 28 million homes.

Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will be a positive step for homeowners for financial reasons as well as environmental ones. With significant price increases in energy bills this year, it’s likely that buyers will be keen to own a home which doesn’t rely on gas for its heating.

Although we don’t know exactly what the new standards will look like, it’s likely that heating systems will need to run at lower temperatures to work effectively with heat pumps. And it goes without saying that insulation and airtightness will need to be significantly improved, as this is essential for a heat pump to function correctly.

I imagine we may also find that more developers are including solar panels in their designs, but this is not an inexpensive option, so it will remain to be seen how realistic that is for most housing.

An improvement in carbon emissions in new build homes has long been needed, but it will be interesting to see the impact. Sometimes when building regs are improved, we see some positive and some negative consequences. For example, improved insulation alongside lack of ventilation and shading has led to an issue with overheating in new build homes. This is a significant problem, especially in the summer months, and the improved building regulations will aim to tackle this.

Overall, the new building regulations appear to be a positive step forward in cutting the substantial emissions of the built environment. Once the regulations are finalised, it will be easier to see the benefits, and perhaps to see any potential flaws in the plans.

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