You may be cutting back on meat, plastic and flying, but you will have to do something far less fashionable if Britain is to meet its biggest climate change challenge: give up your gas boiler. Greenhouse gas emissions fell in every sector — including transport, industry and energy — in 2018, but emissions from homes went up 4 per cent, government data shows. For Britain to hit its binding net-zero emissions target by 2050, the 85 per cent of homes using gas must switch to low-carbon heating. Gas boilers are to be banned in new homes by 2025, but the far bigger problem is weaning 25 million existing homeowners off their gas heating. So if you are replacing your boiler, what are your options? Britain now generates more electricity from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. So should you switch to electric heating? “Your fuel bills will quadruple,” says Sarah Price from Enhabit, an energy efficiency consultancy. Electricity, at 14p/kWh, costs more than three times as much as gas (4p/kWh). For now, a gas combi boiler is still the most efficient, she says. For an air-source heat pump (£5,000-£8,000) you need space away from windows and neighbours to place the humming air conditioning-sized unit on an exterior wall. Ground-source versions cost twice as much and need more room. RHI grants aim to refund you for the cost above that of a gas boiler within seven years. Technology to make hydrogen on a large scale does not exist yet. Initially, natural gas would be converted into hydrogen, but that creates carbon dioxide that must be captured and stored. Experts believe any switch to hydrogen is at least a decade away.
Times 5th March 2020 read more »