Whether gas boiler systems are still compliant is one of the most common questions we are asked, and no wonder, when it seems nobody is quite sure what the path to Net Zero looks like in terms of central heating systems – including the Government and manufacturers.

For example, the so-called ‘boiler tax’ hit the headlines last week , when it was announced that the Government is delaying the implementation of fines for boiler manufacturers who don’t meet heat pump sales targets. This disincentive has been part of the drive towards heat pumps over gas boilers, to help cut the carbon emissions of dwellings.

Gas boilers still compliant

Another way in which gas boilers are being phased out is through Building Regulations; it certainly appears that older style systems will simply not be compliant at some point in the future. Though there is no actual gas boiler ‘ban’, this compliance standards strategy would effectively see the end of gas heating in new-build dwellings once emissions limits reach a certain point.

However, as things currently stand, it is possible for gas boiler systems to be compliant. This is a relief to many developers, as electricity prices continuing to be higher than mains gas, and mains gas heating is still considered to have the lowest running costs. Consumer doubts over heat pump performance, higher running costs, and higher capital costs have led some developers to try and continue with gas heating for as long as possible, to meet the demands of their market.

Admittedly, the Part L 2021 compliance calculations have been deliberately designed to favour heat pump technologies, but this does not mean that gas boilers are no longer able to be compliant – currently. Solar photovoltaics may be specified to help ensure compliance; though this may require careful roof design to get large systems to fit, or even the use of north-facing roofs that don’t maximise panel output (which of course is not ideal).

Future phasing out of gas boilers

It is expected that the Future Homes Standard in 2025 will lead to the end of gas boilers within new-build dwellings, as they will no longer be compliant. This focus on the decarbonisation of heating systems will ultimately drive all new dwellings to electric solutions, of which the majority will be heat pumps.

This of course poses a challenge: the end user is not currently reassured that a heat pump system will be as effective as the gas boiler systems that they are familiar with, and the running costs are currently higher, which will leave the developer stuck somewhat between the rock of their market and the hard place of compliance. What is needed is a concerted effort to increase consumer understanding – and we really need to close the skills gap relating to heat pump technology, also.

Another key element in selling the decarbonisation message as a benefit for home owners is to address the issue of EPC ratings. With the current EPC methodology a dwelling with gas heating will perform better than the same dwelling with a heat pump, which emphasizes the additional expense when it comes to running costs – which, being likely higher anyway, is particularly off-putting to potential house purchasers. Rather understandably, it is difficult for them to accept that a new dwelling built in 2026 is going to be more expensive to run than a new dwelling built in 2016. This separation of cost and carbon will need to be addressed at some point soon.

To find out more about how we can help developers to specify gas boiler heating systems that are compliant with current Part L Building Regulations, call us on 01206 266755 or email mail@ajenergy.com.