UK could U-turn on 2035 gas boiler ban as heat pumps too costly

Conservative MP and host clash over deadline to ban gas boilers

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The Government has hinted that it could U-turn on its proposed ban on the sale of new gas boilers by 2035, as energy experts have warned that heat pump costs will not become cheaper. Over the past year, heat pumps have been hailed as a solution for the energy crisis, because run on electricity instead of natural gas, and are far more efficient than traditional boilers. However, the technology has remained prohibitively expensive for millions of households, with average costs of installation being quoted between £10,000 and up to £13,000 according to some estimates. 

During a debate in the House of Lord earlier today, Steven Croft, the Lord Bishop of Oxford, hailed the government’s strong policy on banning petrol and diesel cars, and asked whether the Government would consider moving forward the currently proposed ban on new gas boiler sales from 2035 to 2030. 

He said: “I know that in 2020, the Government brought forward – in a very welcome way – the date for phasing out new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 to 2030, which has had a very significant positive effect on that market.

“I wonder, has any further consideration been given to bringing forward to 2030- the present date of 2035- of prohibiting the installation of new gas boilers, to further encourage the rapid development of low carbon domestic heating?”

In response, Conservative peer Lord Callanan corrected the Bishop, clarifying that the Government has not yet banned gas boiler sales, even in 2035. 

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero said: “We have not set a date of 2035 for prohibiting the installation of new gas boilers.

“We have said that it is our aim, but of course, it will crucially depend on the availability of cheap alternatives for people to heat their homes with.”

Speaking to, Mike Foster from the Energy and Utilities Alliance, noted that according to the Government’s 2021 Heat and Buildings Strategy, gas boilers would be banned in 2035 unless their alternatives remain at unaffordable prices.

He said: “It is clear that the cost of installing heat pumps is many times higher than that of installing a gas boiler or replacing a gas boiler.

“As a consequence that affordability gap cannot be met by consumers. Therefore looking at alternatives such as keeping boilers but changing the gap that goes through the natural gas pipeline to something like hydrogen got to be the most sensible way forward.

“I believe that for the majority of homes currently on the gas grid, having a boiler-based alternative in the form of hydrogen-ready boilers has to be the most logical approach a government can take.”

Mr Foster slammed heat pumps, claiming that the technology will never reach the same cost as a gas boiler. Meanwhile, he noted that boiler manufacturing companies have already committed to ensuring that hydrogen-ready boilers cost the same as gas boilers. 

While heat pump installation costs in the UK have generally been far more than that of a gas boiler, over the past few months, companies like Octopus Energy and British Gas have announced ambitious schemes offering heat pump installations at the same price as a gas boiler. 

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According to Greg Jackson, the CEO of Octopus Energy, buying and installing their new self-designed heat pump will cost homeowners as little as £2,500.

Aside from reducing the UK’s expensive gas imports, heat pumps are also tipped to slash household energy bills, are they are three to four times more energy efficient than the best boilers.

Meanwhile, many experts have questioned the role of hydrogen in home heating, with reports suggesting that replacing natural gas with hydrogen would be far more expensive for the UK as a whole. 

Later in the same House of Lords debate, Lord Callanan said that “at the moment hydrogen heating for homes is an unproven technology which is why we need to carry out trials and the research to ascertain if it is a viable technology.

“In the meantime, however, we know that heat pump electrification does work, and is an operable technology, which is why we support it.”

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