Discuss COP26 2021 - Phasing out fossil fuel boilers for good. in the Plumbing News area at PlumbersForums.net

Cop26 has now come to a close and Glasgow is getting back to normality. But just how easy is it going to be to phase out fossil fuel boilers and move to a more renewable energy source for our homes? We had a look at the various promises and pledges made by the Government and how easy these are going to be for plumbers of today and the future to implement.

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Cop26 has piled on the pressure to heat our homes differently to slow down Climate Change.
Before COP26, the UK Has made it a law to be net zero by 2050. This means that legally we have to make changes to how we live to comply with this. Perhaps the biggest change to make is the way we heat our homes. There are roughly 23 million homes in the UK that still rely on a fossil fuel boiler. Whether this is a coal fired back boiler or a more modern combi boiler that uses either gas or oil to fuel it. In 2035 we will no longer be able to have a new gas or oil boiler installed - even if you need a replacement as yours has given up the ghost.

What Will Replace Fossil Fuel Boilers?​

So what are the options available to replace your old boiler with? How much do they cost and are there any grants available to help with that? We had a look at how things may be delivered out to the public now that COP26 has ended.

The Heat and Buildings strategy states that to reach the goal of net zero by 2050, fossil fuel boilers will not be able to be installed after 2035. This seems like a date far into the future but it is actually only 14 years. See what others are saying about this on PlumbersForums.net here.

COP26 2021 - Phasing out fossil fuel boilers for good. filename: {filename} - Plumbing Advice

Global Warming
There are plans to help people make the switch to a lower carbon way of heating their homes. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) will launch in Spring 2022 offering grants to property owners to install heat pumps and biomass boilers to replace their fossil fuel systems. Have a look at what our members are saying about Heat Pumps on PlumbersForums.net here. How much will be on offer has not been finalised yet but it is reassuring to know that help will exist.

What will happen to Plumbers?​

Plumbers will still be needed for water and and other issues that arise relating to your heating system. It may be that they need to do some extra qualifications to be able to install heat pumps. The best thing to do is check when you are getting your new boiler. You can check on PlumbersForums.net for a qualified Plumber in your area and make sure your plumber is GasSafe Registered.


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Won’t happen in the next 25 years our new build housing stock needs to be better regulated eg more insulation and built better so it’s to a passive standard then we will have a fighting chance
Does it seem an unlikely target to you @ShaunCorbs ?

What do you think would be more realistic?
It's not going to an overnight job to change over completely, I'll raise Shauns 25 to closer to 50 years even then it won't be 100%.
Changes related to property take a long time.

There are still plenty of houses without double glazing.
I'll bet there are plenty of houses that don't have Central heating.
I'll bet there's still few without a proper bathroom or fitted kitchen.
They'll be many with wiring that's over 70 years old and on fuses not MCB's let alone RCBOs / Surge protection / Arc fault detection.
Many gas boilers will live on well after 2035, especially after the last minute rush from 2030 to replace gas boilers.

Meanwhile at the other end people spend tens of thousands on garden patios, hot tubs, fencing etc.
And nowadays over £100000 for a car.

All we can do is plod on and do the best over the coming years.
Does it seem an unlikely target to you @ShaunCorbs ?

What do you think would be more realistic?

To do all the older properties it won’t happen as they will have issues with damp etc due to the cavity / external insulation as the houses weren’t designed like this
You can't (usually) get old housing to passivhaus standard. Based on my own house (1870s? mid-terrace of cheap housing):

Solid walls at the front. I can insulate them to a point, but not desirable to go much below U value of 1 otherwise the walls may freeze and fail (not my idea - Ranyl Rhydwen's - based on his study of hemp and lime vs dry lining for insulation of monolithic walls).

Rear walls of thermal blocks and brick with a cavity. Poor attention to detail during construction reveals significant bridges at cavity ties. Lots of rubble down cavity has been partially cleared where it was causing damp to penetrate. Due to an extension, an outer skin becomes an inner skin, thus bridging the cavity. I remain dubious whether filling these cavities is possible without extensive remedial work first and would suggest that the various cold bridges would increase the total heat loss to a point that internal insulation, albeit with a lower hypothetical U value, would result in a more thermally-efficient building as the thermal envelope could be maintained at floor intersection and around openings.

Cold bridging extensive on ground floor as suspended timber floors are ventilated under the (insulated) floors. Floor insulation is maxed out at around 0.3U as insufficient depth available due to shallow foundations. Poured concrete floor had been fitted, but was removed as the whole slab was soaking wet and, due to the lack of a DPC in the majority of the walls, it was considered better to ventilate the underfloor in order to remove the source of rising damp. The walls could be cut and a physical barrier installed, but it's structural work. A previous attempt in the 1980s to inject a DPC has convinced me that injected DPCs are not a long-term solution either.

First floor rear is timber frame of very poor quality construction that needs the internals to be gutted to allow the issues with convection currents around the fibreglass batts and good old-fashion draughts to be addressed. Acute cold spots that lead to condensation on inner wall if the rooms are kept cold.

Loft is reasonably well insulated and varies from 0.3 to sub-0.2U values.

That said, there is a door on the stairs. With this closed, the ground floor is easy to heat with 2kW (and that's with a fairly cold first floor), so it is quite possible IMO that the entire house could be upgraded to run on 3kW for space heating even in mid-winter if the above were done. Which, for 800 sq ft, would be nearly 4 x times the peak demand for passivhaus standard 37W/m2 instead of 10. At which point, running without gas would, however, be possible, I think. Having said all that, none of the above work is easy or cheap, and there remain practical difficulties as far as the practicalities of such invasive work (all the easy stuff has already been done) without relocating residents.

Widespread demolition and reconstruction has the disadvantage of using a lot of energy in the build process, and unfortunately we are now on a knife edge which means if we do that, we won't have the carbon budget to do anything else such as build all the wind turbines we hope to use. We should have started work in the 1970s when more people were predicting a new ice age than global heating, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

That said, I did halve my house-based emissions very easily (before sickness in the family and then the Covid outbreak meant I got stuck abroad for 2 years): I invited a friend to use the spare room. Frankly, without behavioural change, all this talk of net-zero is pie-in-the-sky and will be as much use as brakes that stop in 20' when you are 15' from the cliff edge. Turns out, having someone in the house to help lift heavy items, assist with clench-nailing, and do half the cooking is really useful. Plus they share the bills. I wouldn't really want to go back to living on my own.
I said in another post, heat pumps have been available for installation for over 70 years and to my mind there is good reason why they are not popular in this country.

I have been in this industry a long time and I have only 2 customers who have them. One wishes he hadn't bothered as he would have been better off financially by taking my advice and installing a new band A rated boiler. The other has spent an absolute fortune yet kept a back up heating system comprised of a log burner doing some rads, storage heaters and air conditioning. I didn't put either of those in.

Personally I know of no heating engineers with a heat pump but I don't know if that's just me and the people I know.
The ones I do know and trust have said they wouldn't have one.

If the government are offering to throw money at folk, then I dare say we will see an increase in the installation of them but I also think we will soon be hearing "have you been mis-sold a heat pump"?

Apologies if this sounds pessimistic but to me, if something has been here so long without taking off of its own accord and it needs the tax payer to dole out money for the installation of it and lower electricity tariffs to entice people in, as well as sales teams and installers (who pay to be qualified and accredited) to push it, then it can't be a good thing.

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