The media is full of talk about the end of natural gas boilers.

To meet the UK target of carbon net-zero heating by 2050, we are all being led to believe that Air Source heat pumps are the way to go.

My view on this is, that it will not work. Quite apart from the fact that these units take up a large amount of space, they are prohibitively expensive to buy and have fitted. They were designed to go into new build properties, that are insulated to the nth degree, and often have underfloor heating that is run at a much lower temperature. 

The vast majority of properties in the UK are not insulated to today's standards and are heated by radiators, meaning an air source heat pump would struggle to cope. I’m sure that much further down the line, the technology will improve, and as older houses are replaced with more and more new builds this will change, but that is an awfully long way off.

Having read a number of articles on this subject, I think the short-term answer could lie in boilers that run on a hydrogen/natural gas mixture. The only by-product of burning hydrogen is water, which obviously reduces carbon emissions significantly. To assess the feasibility, costs and benefits of repurposing the existing gas network for 100% hydrogen the government is planning to support a pioneering large village hydrogen heating trial, that will build on the ‘neighbourhood trial’ due to take place in Levenmouth, Fife in 2023.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of these trials, but for the next 10-15 years, I think our domestic natural gas boilers are safe.

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