What will new Part L regulations mean for boilers?

Earlier this year, consultation on the Future Homes Standard came to a close and resulted in a number of proposed changes to Part L building regulations. Under these new regulations, new builds will have to be future-proofed by 2023 meaning the fitting of low-carbon heating systems with first-rate energy efficiency. The new plans also propose setting a minimum energy performance requirement to ensure all homes are as efficient as possible.

All of this means homeowners and housing developers will be looking ahead to consider the longevity of heating appliances in the future. Naturally, this also means boilers may be impacted. But to what extent? And what do these changed regulations mean for existing boilers as well? Let’s take a closer look at how new and existing boilers might be affected by the changed regulations.

Existing Boilers and Upcoming Boiler Installations

Developers and new buyers may worry about finding themselves on uncertain ground between now and 2023 when the new regulations are set to kick in. If a new build or a newly purchased house is set to be fitted with a gas or oil boiler before the government’s regulations against connecting homes to the gas network kicks in, you don’t need to worry. The government is unable to bring in retrospective legislation. This means, if a new house is already fitted with a gas boiler before the regulations change, you cannot be penalised for it. Ultimately, developers are advised to simply operate within the current scope of the legislation. If they do this, there should be no confusion.

The same goes for boiler installations - if a property is planning to be re-fitted with a gas or oil boiler, this is perfectly within the confines of the law. So, for existing boilers, there shouldn’t be any massive changes being felt - but this doesn’t mean homeowners and buyers won’t start looking ahead.

Since the government is close to defining a minimum energy performance standard, the question of whether to switch from gas to a ground or air-source alternative is a valid one for developers to be asking now. There is no easy and definitive answer to this question. It really comes down to the specific requirements of the project you’re working on.

From a purely energy efficient standpoint, ground and air-source heating systems are the clear winners against any gas boiler. However, from a budgetary standpoint, the picture gets a lot cloudier. When you take the cost of a new build into consideration, the price of renewable heating systems suddenly leaves a bad taste. One of the biggest downfalls of non-gas heating is the expensive price tag and, unfortunately, this means there often has to be a trade-off between the higher costs of operating a gas boiler and the higher costs of purchasing and installing renewables.

The Future Evolution of Boilers

Looking beyond 2023 when new builds will have to be fitted with low-carbon heating, it’s logical to assume new technologies will take on a big role. With this in mind, it’s important to know what the latest trends are to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.

In terms of advancing fossil fuel-reliant boilers, it’s unlikely for innovation to suddenly cease with the introduction of these new regulations. For right now, building regulations are non-prescriptive on technology to decarbonise, however, once the Future Homes Standard is in place, this will undoubtedly push manufacturers to toe the line and bring their gas appliances in line with government regulations. Ultimately, these regulation changes will surely bring on the evolution of more efficient gas and fossil-fuel reliant appliances in homes built before the 2023 date.

The Future of Boiler Maintenance

With the emergence of new technologies and question marks over whether gas boilers will even be permitted to be fit in new homes, there are also queries coming in surrounding servicing and maintenance of existing gas boilers.

The typical lifespan of a modern boiler is around 10-15 years, depending on the quality of the model. This means any gas boilers fit now, or within the last 5-10 years, should remain in working condition past 2023. Even if this is the case, the new part L regulations shouldn’t make any difference to the servicing and maintenance of gas boilers. After all, the regulations only impact new builds and any existing homes are still permitted to be fit with gas boilers that can be regularly serviced and maintained as normal.

This article was contributed by JustBoilers.com and updated in November 2020 to reflect the new 2023 cut-off date.

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