The UK government has laid out its plans to relax the phase-out of gas-powered boilers.

In an announcement last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would delay the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, along with new coal heating for off-gas-grid homes, to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026. The cut-off for the sale of new gas boilers will remain at 2035. 

Along with the delay, Sunak also said there would be exemptions to the phase-out of fossil fuel boilers, meaning that households who will most struggle to switch to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives won’t have to do so. These exemptions are expected to apply to around one-fifth of UK homes which would likely need expensive retrofitting to make the switch.

“To help those households for whom this will be hardest, I’m introducing a new exemption today so that they’ll never have to switch at all,” Sunak said during the announcement. 

The gas boiler phase-out had been a significant part of the UK’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. While concerns have been raised about the impact these changes will have on the UK’s long-term green targets, the Prime Minister insisted that this new approach would not hinder that Net Zero goal, describing the new plans as a “more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach that eases the burdens on families.” 

To help meet this Net Zero target, the Prime Minister made a series of announcements that included a ‘fast-track’ pathway for major eligible transmission projects dedicated to helping businesses and households connect to the grid sooner, a new, faster approach to grid connections and a £105m Green Futures Fellowship, which will support at least 50 scientists and engineers to develop green technologies. 

Boiler upgrade scheme

The existing Boiler Upgrade Scheme has also been updated. This scheme offers people cash grants to replace their boiler with a low-carbon alternative, such as a heat pump, and has now risen to £7,500, a 50% increase on the £5,000 figure that had initially been laid out. 

You can find out if you’re eligible for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme here.

Rules also relaxed for landlords

The government has also scrapped plans that would have seen landlords forced to upgrade the energy efficiency of properties they own. Instead, the government says it will ‘encourage households to do so where they can.’ 

What does this mean for the gas industry? 

For those working within the gas industry, it means very little is likely to change in their day-to-day responsibilities for the next decade. 

Further down the line, when natural gas boilers are eventually phased out, it’s likely that existing gas engineers will need to undertake some element of upskilling to fully understand how these low-carbon alternatives work.