At the end of last year, the government finally released the much-awaited consultation on the Future Homes and Buildings Standard. This heralds a significant legislative change for this industry as the proposals will effectively introduce a ban on fossil fuel boilers in new homes from 2025.

Even though this change isn’t likely to have a major immediate impact for many of you, it surely signals the start of a slow death for gas and oil boilers. Unless you are planning to retire in the next few years, there’s no escaping the need to start casting an eye on alternative technologies in order to future-proof your career. However, the alternate technologies that the government is putting its weight behind to help reach its net-zero 2050 target appear to be few and far between.

Reading through the Future Homes and Buildings Standard consultation document, a lot of alternative heating options seem to have been discarded as realistic options for reaching net-zero.

Existing direct electric heating options are not on the cards because “they can be more expensive to run than modern heat pumps, pushing up bills for households”. The standards proposed are also unlikely to allow the installation of biofuel systems, including wood and manufactured solid fuels.

Tellingly, however, the text of the consultation states: “We found no practical way to allow the installation of fossil fuel boilers while also delivering significant carbon savings and ‘zero-carbon ready’ homes. As such, we do not expect fossil fuel heating, such as gas, hybrid heat pumps, and hydrogen-ready boilers, will meet these standards.”

Outside of a few emergent technologies that weren’t mentioned (and most likely can’t yet be scaled up to the levels needed to help achieve net-zero), we’re essentially left with heat pumps and heat networks as the two options that the government is considering. Both heat pumps and heat networks have both received various levels of government funding for projects, training, etc. recently, so this development isn’t too shocking.

The ramifications of Future Homes and Buildings Standard are likely to be felt for decades, so if you feel strongly about the future of your industry, you should submit a response before the consultation closes on 6 March 2024.