No gas heating in new builds in 2 years (2023)...Will this mean fuel poverty coming to a family near you sooner?

  • 18 November 2020
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I’m just opening up this topic for discussion.

Per unit of heat forgetting (minor-in-comparison) inefficiencies due to heat exchange losses, electricity is somewhere between 5 and 6 times more expensive when producing the same amount of heat as gas.

You can only insulate so much, but you still have to produce heat  and even with significant improvements in insulation, the production of which incidentally adds hugely to carbon emissions,  the majority of homes are not going to be be able to achieve anywhere near the 5x ratio which would equalise costs. 

This means that total energy costs are going to rise massively for those who are eventually unable to use gas to heat their homes.

In a new build all of the improvements can be baked in from scratch (even though  I believe even stricter insulation requirements for building regs may also be necessary), but eventually for the majority of existing homeowners who heat their water and homes with gas this could become financially catastrophic on so many levels and lead to a huge increase in fuel poverty.

You can’t just fit an electric boiler as a substitute in many cases without other very significant work being done,  a huge percentage of houses don’t have the space for a ground or air source heat pump, and if I was a gas boiler manufacturer I’d be looking for alternatives...(and think of the price of spares too after the boiler manufacturers are decimated).

Incidentally no gas heating in 2 years means no gas heating sooner once the public realise the implications further down the line. 

There are many things the government need to do to support this, but is the deficit from Covid going to cause significant impedance?

I’m not a fan of screwing up the planet with carbon emissions but  is there is a reality check to be had here?

Thoughts?

 

 


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It’s got me Woz, one of my friends applied to NEST for loft insulation on the house she bought last year, and was told no because the previous occupier had been provided with a new gas boiler a few years ago - quite what the logic of installing a new gas boiler in a 1930s house with no loft insulation was eludes me just as much as the current plan for no new builds having gas central heating.

What happens when all the old properties with gas, or in my case heating oil, boilers need replacements?

I understand the logic of the environmental concerns, but why wasn’t someone thinking of that in 2013 when they decided to replace my apparently more efficient boiler with one that’s ‘too powerful’ for my home?

I guess expecting joined-up thinking from government departments is a stretch.

 
 

Firstly it cannot make sense to replace a gas boiler with an electric one. I am sure a user really would see consumption costs rocket. How to heat a house needs a rethink. Everything points to using electricity and as I have mused before, why pump water round a house to heat it in this century? There are electric alternatives which are more efficient, more aesthetically pleasing and easy to instal. I suspect  most of us here could do it. The problem is still the running cost but whilst it is greater, with decent gear it is not 5 or 6 times more.
 

Currently I am investigating just what the extra cost will be as my boiler is getting on a bit and to replace with a gas boiler needs careful thought. At present there are no hydrogen boilers, installing a heat pump is at least three times the cost of fitting a new gas system, if not more. It may be re-roofing the house with solar panels is a better option. It can be done and it is not immediately obvious when done.

As I have opined elsewhere, government needs to consider more how to  subsidise the electricity domestic user to encourage movement in that direction. PP could get involved with that because of the benefits it will reap.

Getting back to the original question “in new builds” , the answer is no. Unless the government is going to be incredibly stupid about it. (which they are at the moment). The reason being that if they adopt full passivhaus standard into building controls, new houses would cost no more than 10% more than today and space heating bills will be so small that it will not matter what form of expensive fuel is used. See https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/passivhaus-what-you-need-know/?gclid=CjwKCAjw47eFBhA9EiwAy8kzNHAQQhhU1OgV8KCxnJx0YRphftKWPHxTfYafw-aDvkHYtvDezbPEhBoCI6oQAvD_BwE 

and 

the graph is from this page…

https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/passive-house.html

 

As for dealing with existing stock that is a different matter. But why we are still building this problematic “old stock” of houses is ridiculous. Which takes me back to the government being so stupid on this issue right now.

@mikeavison Indeed, yes. I have said before that it is apparently possible to build from scratch a house that is 100% energy efficient and it does not cost much more. So why aren’t we? One problem is our politicians. They are not the brightest in the pack. A quality failing which certainly wound up Dominic Cummings. I see no point building houses with boilers nor replacing existing boilers with another when a dry system is so much more efficient but is only viable if the cost of electricity comes down. I ended up replacing my gas boiler with another in February solely because I could not afford to run an electric system. Yet the latter is so easy to install and for most it is a DIY job.

If Government would subsidise electricity more whilst the industry catches up with more economic supply methods there is an answer, but at present there is a real danger of fuel poverty the way things are going. Indeed, according to PP,  if I renew my fixed price contract in July it will cost me some £400+ per annum more than I currently pay. At this rate perhaps I ought to have gone the electric route!

Better news today is progress made with nuclear fusion. If they can master the issues with that, and they are getting there, then we have an answer. Until then it’s windmills! Solar panels aren’t much good here for you don’t recover the cost before you need to consider replacing.

Of course the gas industry won’t be happy, although BP is trying to move away from fossil fuels, and the  industry and its related industries will be putting pressure on the government  who will sadly kowtow to it and do nothing. I hope I am wrong but it is annoying when the answer is clear but nobody grasps the nettle.

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It surprises me that things likesolar panels and storage is not built into new build homes. It would be so easy if it was included in the design and building stage instead of being an aftermarket addition

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