The Road Ahead for Oil-fired Heating

Find Out About Heating Alternatives


How Long Before Oil Boilers are Banned?

The UK Government is committed to reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2050, and therefore the future of both gas and oil boilers – which run off of fossil fuels – is in doubt in the long term. Our boilers which power our heating systems account for around 30% of the UK’s total greenhouse emissions, so they’ll have to go. If you, like four million other households across the UK, live off-grid and depend on oil for your central heating, you will be wondering: when will oil boilers be banned? Well, there’s no immediate reason to panic about replacing your “undesirable” oil boiler. Under the Government’s current plans the installation of oil boilers (as well as gas boilers) will be banned only in new build homes from 2025 onwards. At this stage there are no plans to ban oil boilers in existing homes, so you’ll certainly be able to continue using your current oil-fired heating system for its lifespan.


What should you replace your oil boiler with?

If your current oil boiler is reaching the end of its useful lifespan and you are going to have to replace it soon, what should you replace your oil boiler with?

Well, there are some low-carbon heating solutions that will do the job, most notably air source or ground source heat pumps, solar thermal panels (for powering electric storage heating) and hydrogen boilers. All these technologies are currently available, but not all are mainstream yet in the UK. 

There are also many companies who are peddling cleaner burning biofuels of one sort or another, which can be used to fuel oil-fired heating systems that can be converted for the purpose.

All the alternatives to oil boilers are expensive propositions at this stage, but before the Government can completely outlaw oil-fired boilers those who rely on them will need to be assured there is an affordable, practical and sustainable replacement for oil boilers to provide heating solutions.


Can I replace my oil boiler with a heat pump?

The Government is clearly in favour of future-proofing our homes with heat pumps, aiming to see around 600,000 of them being installed every year by 2028. Heat pumps are a great alternative to oil-fired heating systems, extremely suitable for remote off-grid areas, and qualify for Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments if your heat pump is Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) compliant.

How do heat pumps work? They use networks of piping to extract heat energy from the air or ground and use it to warm your home, working like a refrigerator in reverse. The technology, especially ground source heat pumps, is extremely efficient and although upfront costs are large, over time a heat pump can reduce energy bills significantly. 

Moving to a heat pump will almost certainly require you to replace the radiators with larger ones as the temperature of the water in the system is often less, so larger radiators will be required to heat the same space.

The coming years are going to present all sorts of challenges as we strive to beat climate change and and seek renewable energy solutions for all our requirements. Start planning ahead for your future heating needs while you keep your current oil boiler well maintained and working for as long as possible.

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