Finding an ethical and eco-friendly boiler
From a climate perspective, heating is an urgent thing for consumers to address. It accounts for around 14% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions if you count them territorially, or 9% including imports. And it has to be addressed at home, as that’s where the burning happens.
The UK is doing very badly at decarbonising heating. Houses in the UK are poorly insulated, and we are addicted to gas boilers.
Even if you’re not about to buy a boiler, this guide is still for you. If you find new ways to streamline your hot water requirements, adjust some boiler settings (and get your boiler serviced), you could cut costs and emissions right now.
Are there any environmentally-friendly boilers?
None of the brands in this guide receive our 'best buy' rating, and there's only four points between the top and bottom scoring brands. The finer details like price and warranties may help you differentiate between brands. We cover both topics in this guide.
If you are about to buy a boiler, we recommend that you don’t. A heat pump is much better for the climate if it’s possible for you. However, we realise that heat pumps are out of many people’s price range, so we are covering boilers again. This guide covers both gas and electric boilers.
There is a UK ban on fitting gas (and oil) boilers to new homes from 2025, with phase-outs for replacement boilers also expected, in order to wean ourselves off gas and cut carbon emissions.
Electric boilers v gas boilers
Electric boilers are not the best alternative for home heating. They are much more expensive to run than a gas boiler (because the price of electricity is higher than gas) and won’t currently save you carbon, although over their likely 15-year lifetime, the grid will hopefully decarbonise more and so that may change.
But even if it does, they would not be suitable for everyone as it would raise electricity demand too much on cold winter evenings when we all turn our heating up at once.
Electric heat pumps are several times more efficient at converting electricity to heat, and are the solution being proposed by the expert organisations. Our guide to heat pumps has more information.