The Future of Residential Heating in a Net Zero UK

Plans have been revealed recently to tackle climate change and they focus on what we’re doing in our homes. With the heating of buildings creating as much as a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions, it could be time to rethink how we keep our property warm.

In a bid to reduce these emissions, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the group that advises the government on emissions targets and reducing greenhouse gases, has recommended phasing out gas boilers by 2035. This will bring us closer to net zero, the balance between the number of emissions we make and the number of emissions we remove from the atmosphere.

So, how will our home heating look in the next two decades? Can we reduce our carbon footprint in time for the 2035 target?

Where we are

To understand what’s in store, it’s worth knowing where we are. Right now, roughly 29 million homes in Britain are heated by gas boilers. Switching to greener alternatives are likely to prove costly, with the CCC estimating the switch to come in at around £26,000.

That is a lot more expensive than keeping up with repairs and checks on our existing gas boilers. Therefore, before we update to low-carbon alternatives, we will need to ensure our current boilers are well-maintained.

In the years leading up to the gas boiler ban, it’s worth ensuring we’re covered in case the boiler does break down, as we could find that we have to pay for a replacement and then update to the more expensive low-carbon option shortly after. Taking out boiler cover with specialists such as Warrantywise will offer peace of mind.

What’s coming up?  

While those of us in existing properties will have to consider updating our heating systems by 2035, new builds are already making the switch to low carbon, with gas boilers being banned from 2025. This is a clever move as new builds provide an opportunity for experimentation in terms of housebuilding and heat pumps will be introduced here.

However, these heat pumps might not be so easy to install in existing homes. Therefore, greener options for heating will see experts explore hydrogen as a viable option. This would see our existing infrastructure and boilers being kept but updated to run on hydrogen instead of the fossil fuels currently used.

The reason experts are thinking of using hydrogen is because, rather than producing the climate-damaging carbon dioxide that’s currently being made, this is a gas that simply produces water.  

With OVO Energy recently announcing that it will lead a zero-carbon heating trial, it’s clear that headway is already being made. As we wait to see how this plays out, we can do our bit to reduce emissions. Simple updates, such as insulating lofts and floors can go a long way. Smart heating controls are also likely to only grow in popularity in the coming years as we all try to only use the energy we need.