Tuesday, 28th February, 2017
Could gas be on the way out as the primary energy source for boilers and heating? A number of industry experts believe so, and a series of trends are pointing towards electric boilers and heating overtaking gas in the near future.
Statistical data is hard to come by to prove or disprove this opinion, but certainly the indications are that gas is becoming an outdated energy source not in line with modern construction methods, Government initiatives and industry practices. A member of the Association of Registered Gas Installers commented that residential landlords are increasingly installing electrical boilers and water heaters to replace old gas boilers, and there are three main reasons why this trend appears to be occurring:
- Construction practice: A Home Builders Federation spokesman confirms that new build apartments typically use electricity as an energy source, mainly because installation of electric heating is easier than a gas central heating system, and costing in modern construction relies on these more cost-effective methods.
- Sources of energy: Cost is a big factor in choosing an energy source, and electricity costs have been coming down rapidly in the last 20 years to make it more attractive compared to gas, which traditionally has always been cheaper. But concerns over energy supplies is also dictating where the markets are going. Declining North Sea gas production means the UK imports more and more of its gas supplies, so the UK is in a state of being dependent on potentially unreliable suppliers and markets.
- Building Regulations: An Electrical Contractors’ Association spokesman also believes more eco-friendly and waste-stringent building regulations are leaning towards the use of electricity over gas. Traditionally, commercial and domestic buildings were known to waste considerable energy, but improved loft and cavity wall insulation, plus double glazing standards means the amount of energy required to heat the average home or commercial building is reduced. Again, this trend offers electricity as a much more viable option as an alternative heating source.
The lower installation and ongoing maintenance costs are considered to be the biggest factor in the rise in electrical heating, as these are favoured by developers of new apartments and office schemes around the country, but there is still a belief that gas heating has a place in the market. For bigger residential properties, such as three and four bedroom houses, gas central heating remains the more cost-effective heating source, but the rise and prominence in more affordable housing, such as smaller flats and apartments, means there are definitely big opportunities for the electrical heating industry.
Industry experts believe the Government’s push towards a zero carbon economy has much to do with this, and is a prime reason why the electrical heating industry can look forward to a promising future. Government pressures are pointing private and local authorities towards more energy-efficient, low carbon heating sources and that policy doesn’t lend itself well to the installation of gas boilers.
Furthermore, the future isn’t necessarily all about electricity if the push for low carbon energy sources continues. Renewable technologies are growing in importance and rapidly developing to become a serious rival to electricity as the go-to Green energy source. Combined heat and power systems, solar thermal for heat and water, heat pumps and biomass boilers are all technologies benefiting from rapid research and development, and also Government obligations via the EU 2009
Renewable Energies Directive. With this in mind, electricity may be overtaking gas as the preferred energy source, as expected, but this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be looking over its shoulder.Back to News