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What Will Replace Gas Boilers?

As the UK government intends to phase out the installation of high carbon fossil fuel heating in buildings off the gas grid during the 2020s and will ban the installation of gas boilers in new homes from 2025, now is a great time to replace your heating system with a greener alternative. 

First, we’re going to look at traditional alternatives before sharing the top 5 green alternatives to gas boilers for your home.

Traditional alternatives to gas boilers

Most people who live in off-gas grid households in the UK have an oil, LPG or electric boiler, which are considered traditional alternatives to gas central heating systems. 

Oil Boilers

Oil boilers can be fitted inside or outside the home, and most owners have theirs installed externally as the tanks are bulky and take up quite a bit of space. Oil is more expensive than gas, and the oil price often fluctuates from one month to the next. What’s more, oil-fired boilers are bad for the environment, and the global warming emissions from their combustion are much higher than those from natural gas. 

LPG Boilers

The upfront cost of an LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) boiler is cheaper than most oil boilers, and they require a storage tank to store the fuel, which needs to be delivered by a supplier. The fuel cost is higher than natural gas or oil, but LPG is better for the environment as it’s a ‘cleaner’ fossil fuel. 

Electric Boilers

Electric boilers rely solely on electricity, and the cost per unit is higher than oil, LPG and natural gas, making them the most expensive traditional alternative to gas. On the plus side, electric boilers are more energy-efficient as they don’t burn fossil fuels and no waste gases can escape through chimneys or flues. However, electric boilers are not suitable for large properties because they can’t meet high demands. 

Best green alternatives to gas boilers

Below, you can find five of the most popular eco-friendly alternatives to gas-fired boilers and high carbon fossil fuel heating systems.

1. Biomass Boilers

Biomass boilers run on a carbon-neutral fuel and work similarly to gas boilers in that they burn fuel, but not fossil fuels. The fuel used to power central heating and hot water boilers is logs, wood pellets or wood chips and may include food, animal and industrial waste. 

Although wood releases carbon dioxide when burned, it’s considerably less than fossil fuels, and the heat from biomass boilers is renewable. When burning the wood, you still release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, but the gas is absorbed while the tree grows and makes the process sustainable.


  • Cheap and sustainable fuel source
  • Carbon neutral form of energy
  • Potential savings of up to £700 a year (Energy Saving Trust)
  • Biomass fuels prices are not subject to price hikes
  • A good way to dispose of waste wood
  • Qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme


  • Require a lot of space
  • Expensive to purchase and install
  • Labour intensive, unless you use an automatic feed hopper
  • Access is needed to allow your fuel supplier to make deliveries

As biomass boilers burn wood rather than gas, they tend to be bigger than gas boilers, and you will need to have a store of wood at your property in case you get let down by your fuel supplier. Also, you might want to install an automatic feed hopper on your boiler since it can store lots of wood and automatically feed the boiler as and when required. 

2. Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps deliver heating and hot water by transferring heat absorbed from the air outdoors to heating and hot water circuits. They work like a refrigerator in reverse and need to be installed outside, usually at the side or back of your home. Air source heat pumps are easy to install and need electricity to run and provide heating and hot water. 

There are two main types of air source heat pumps, including air-to-water and air-to-air. Air-to-water heat pumps heat wet heating systems, such as radiators and underfloor heating, and air-to-air heat pumps heat rooms in your home via fans. 


  • Lower your fuel bills
  • Lower carbon emissions
  • No need for fuel deliveries
  • Can heat your home and your water
  • Easy to install and require little maintenance
  • Qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme


  • Initial costs can be high
  • Can take a little longer to heat your home
  • Your home must be well insulated

We should mention that an air source heat pump can be used for heating or cooling purposes. Also, you will need to check with your local planning authority if you need planning permission before getting one installed. 

3. Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps extract a free supply of natural heat from the ground via pipes buried in the garden. Water and antifreeze circulate around the pipes buried underground to absorb the heat before going through a heat exchanger and into the heat pump. A compressor increases the temperature, and the heat is then transferred to your home to provide you with heating and hot water.  

All ground source heat pumps run on electricity, but they produce up to four times more heat energy than the electricity they use. A reasonable amount of space is required for the pipework to be installed underground. The ground pipes can sit horizontally or vertically, depending on how much space you have.


  • Lower your fuel bills
  • Lower carbon emissions
  • No need for fuel deliveries
  • Can heat your home and your water
  • Require little maintenance
  • Qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme


  • Initial costs can be high
  • More difficult to install than air source heat pumps
  • Your home must be well insulated

Like with air source heat pumps, you may need to get planning permission to install a ground source heat pump, so make sure you check with your local planning authority. It’s also worth mentioning that ground source heat pumps are efficient throughout the year as the ground temperature doesn’t change that much. 

4. Solar Thermal Panels

Solar thermal panels harness the sun’s energy to heat the water used throughout your home. The panels are installed on your roof so they can absorb the sun’s rays and work by transferring energy to the heat transfer fluid inside the collector. This fluid is then pumped to the heat exchanger inside a hot water cylinder to heat the water. Once the liquid releases the heat, the water returns to the collectors for reheating. 

On average, a solar thermal system will last for up to 25 years and provide 60% of your hot water requirements. This type of system works best if you have a south-facing roof but will still be effective on south-east and south-west facing roofs. And if your roof isn’t suitable for solar thermal panels, you can have them installed on the ground.  


  • Lower your fuel bills
  • Lower carbon emissions]reliable technology
  • Work in cold climates
  • More efficient than PV panels
  • Can last much longer than 25 years
  • Minimal running costs
  • Qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme


  • The initial cost is fairly high
  • Less efficient during the colder months of the year
  • Can only generate hot water – not electricity

The types of solar thermal panels available include flat panels and evacuated tubes. Flat panels, also known as collectors, are the most common solar thermal panel type. The most efficient type of solar thermal panels is the evacuated tubes, which are glass tubes that contain copper pipes and a vacuum.   

5. Infrared Heating Panels

Infrared heating panels are eco-friendly systems and one of the newest ways to heat your home. They work by converting electricity into radiant heat and can heat objects directly, including people, rather than warming the air around you. As infrared heating panels can warm you up as soon as you switch them on, you don’t have to wait long to feel warm and comfortable. 

Infrared heating panels are a great choice if you suffer from allergies because they don’t circulate dust or air particles in your home. These panels can be wall or ceiling mounted without any pipes, and some can even be built into your furniture.   


  • Lower your fuel bills
  • Lower carbon emissions
  • Space-saving systems
  • Provide instant heat
  • Extremely quiet – almost silent
  • Ideal for allergy sufferers – little air circulation
  • Easy to install – no pipework
  • Require minimal maintenance


  • Rooms will get cold quickly when you switch them off
  • The space in front of the panels must be kept clear
  • Can be hot to touch – must be kept away from children and flammables

Infrared heating panels provide cost-effective heating and are available in a range of designs and sizes to suit your needs. Although more expensive than electric storage heaters, infrared panels are cheaper to operate and much more efficient. 

How much do alternatives to gas boilers cost?

Green or renewable heating system systems tend to cost more than traditional alternatives to gas boilers, but they should last a lot longer.  

The table below shows you the typical cost of the mentioned alternatives to gas boilers and the installation. 

Traditional and green alternatives to gas boilersTypical cost
Oil Boiler£1,000 – £3,000
LPG Boiler£450 – £2,600
Electric Boiler£650 – £2,600
Biomass Boiler£3,000 – £20,000
Air Source Heat Pump£4,000 – £18,000
Ground Source Heat Pump£10,000 – £18,000
Solar Thermal Panel System £3,000 – £6,000
Infrared Heating Panels£120 – £450 per panel

Are Hydrogen Boilers the Future?

Renewable heating systems, such as heat pumps, will play a substantial role in heating our homes, but not everyone can afford to replace their gas boiler with these alternatives. Some hope that hydrogen is the future of low-carbon heating, and it looks like it will become the most used type of boiler installation to help tackle carbon emissions in the UK. 

Water is the only by-product of burning hydrogen and is why hydrogen boilers offer promise for the future. A hydrogen boiler would work similarly to a gas boiler and involve very little disruption to homeowners. Hydrogen boilers that can run on 100% hydrogen, as well as natural gas, have already been developed by some leading boiler brands, making it easy for anyone with a hydrogen-ready boiler to convert to hydrogen without needing to replace their entire heating system.  

Most new boilers can run on a mixture of natural gas and up to 20% hydrogen, but 100% hydrogen boilers are not yet available.