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Buried beneath Brexit: Boris’s bonkers boiler ban

September 30, 2019

By Paul Homewood

 

Ben Pile has an excellent article up at Conservative Woman:

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NEWS emerged this weekend that the Conservative Party Conference will hear the leadership’s proposals to achieve Theresa May’s ‘legacy’ Net Zero 2050 target. According to reports, amongst the first steps on this path will be the outlawing of gas connections to any newly built home. This makes no practical, economic or political sense.

Nobody who wants this will vote Conservative. Few who want it will even thank Boris Johnson for it. And what green Tories there are will turn out to be a bigger liability for future governments, the PM and the party than the Remainers, Conservatives among them, whose parliamentary shenanigans last week were intended to humiliate him, overturn the referendum and sabotage the conference.

No doubt the country needs new homes, but onerous green legislation will make building and operating them more expensive. This is because, as anyone who has had to endure low-quality rented accommodation can attest, electric appliances are inconvenient, nasty and expensive compared with gas-fired central heating boilers and cookers. That is why people continue to choose gas over electric.

But it will not be just the occupants of new-builds who will be deprived of the freedom to choose how to heat their homes. The policy will eventually be rolled out to all existing homes, and the Net Zero agenda will impose ever more constraints on individuals and businesses to the detriment of freedom and the economy. This includes the abolition of petrol and diesel-powered transport and, it seems likely, the rationing of flights. It will require the expensive retro-fitting of existing properties to meet ‘standards’, which in the case of both new and old homes may reduce comfort, create problems such as damp, and divert cash from making homes fit for purpose towards making them fit policymakers’ bizarre green fantasies.

 

 Full story here.

41 Comments
  1. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    September 30, 2019 6:31 pm

    electric appliances are inconvenient, nasty and expensive

    Our home is 100% electric — with a free-standing wood stove for emergency heat and cooking, if needed.
    My parent’s home was converted from coal to gas in the mid-1940s. I grew up within a gas home and lived there until I was about 20. Opinion: I like electric — do not understand the quote above.
    Our current house has the built-in duct-work for a heat-pump (A/C and heat) and works well.
    Full disclosure: Electricity rates here near the Columbia River in Washington State are nearly the most inexpensive in the USA. The State also includes some nuclear, thermal, wind, and a bit of solar.

    • September 30, 2019 6:43 pm

      Hydro can be cheap. Solar, wind, tidal renewables are still not cheap and likely never will be. And in the US, more hydroelectric plans are being destroyed without being replaced. Take a look at your neighbor to the south. Hideous electric prices because of removals of dams and hydro plants, removal of nuclear plants, dependency on undependable renewables and having to purchase additional electricity from other states as reliable sources have been shutdown for the most part. Gas is far cheaper in CA than electricity. Also, cities in CA are also passing laws to require building new housing with no gas connections. San Luis Obispo has already passed that law. How about allowing citizens to make their own choices and not paid activists who pressure and lobby the local councils to take away freedoms.

      • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
        October 1, 2019 4:50 am

        I visited California. Once.

    • HotScot permalink
      September 30, 2019 7:25 pm

      We might find that in Washington state house builders have understood the need for effective insulation for a hundred or so years, a phenomenon only recently discovered in the UK.

      Up until the early 2000’s the government were still subsidising cavity wall insulation, until the message that not only did it not work but that it caused dampness and a variety of health problems, filter through to them.

      SIP’s construction has been used in the US to some considerable success for, probably, 30 years now. House-builders in the UK have only just cottoned on to the ease and convenience of the process and are only now promoting it as a ‘revolutionary’ means of construction. Of course ‘revolutionary’ means expensive so they are making out like bandits.

      Air and Ground source heat pumps are another ‘revolutionary’ heating method well known in the US and Scandanavia. I costed having one fitted to my house, something between £30,000 and £40,000. I was also told what I already knew, it was totally unsuited to my house as the building is solid masonry from the Victorian era, much like a large proportion of the existing housing stock.

      We have been complaining about a chronic shortage of new housing in the UK, both private and social, for at least the last two decades at least. Every government I can think of for that period has promised to solve the problem, but has consistently failed miserably.

      Boris will undoubtedly propose this solution to climate change on the back of promising a massive resurgence in house building, which won’t happen unless he dramatically changes the planning laws that have stymied so many other governments.

      In other words, this is another entirely false dawn. It will affect emissions by approximately zero, or to be scientifically accurate, zero point zero and represents yet another virtue signal to allow taxes to be levied on ‘carbon emissions’ which is, after all, what climate change is all about.

      Our western governments are desperately trying to solve the greatest financial threat to their economies, their national debt, by the only means they can concoct in their simplistic minds, taxing the taxpayer, for the mess they have created. But they daren’t come clean and tell us, they must do it by stealth.

      As far as I’m concerned, we can all forget the conspiracy theories about a global socialist future presided over by the UN, that bunch are too stupid to organise a garden fete. The truth is, our governments are fleecing us for their screw ups, other than President Trump who has the radical proposition of getting his country back to work to pay his debt off.

      Europe really is run by a bunch of bureaucratic morons who are like bad engineers, where the solution to a problem is to add layers of technology to disguise the original problem, instead of dealing with the original problem.

      • September 30, 2019 9:42 pm

        Hotscot

        Housing turnover in the UK is around one percent per year, so most of the housing in 2050 has already been built.

        what with listed buildings, solid walls etc retro insulation is not always practicable. Similarly with constraints on roofs as regards construction or orientation, when that is applied to solar panels many houses are unsuitable for these devices.

        As around half of all uk homes do not have a driveway the limited market for home charging of electric cars can also be seen.

        Looking at the cost of heat pumps, the difficulty of making a switch to currently available renewables, even if you like the weather gods dictating your energy production, is considerable.

        Tonyb

      • HotScot permalink
        October 1, 2019 12:41 am

        I used to own a building firm and now live in a listed building with no off road parking. It has so far taken me over a year appealing to planning to get permission to add a two room extension to our house, which was already approved a few years ago.

        I can give you chapter and verse on the day to day realities of dealing with our archaic, tradition obsessed planning departments and conservation officers.

        You might also note that climate change is such a problem that our government is spending well in excess of £5bn (probably double according to some reports) to refurbish Westminster Palace which sits mere feet above the river Thames high water mark.

        Let no one try to convince you that our government considers climate change a problem when they ‘believe’ the HoC and HoL will be swamped in a few short years.

        It’s all bunkum, smoke and mirrors, and nothing more than an excuse to wring more taxes from the British public to pay off our national debt.

      • tonyb permalink
        October 1, 2019 9:23 am

        Hot scot

        I lived in a listed house and confirm you have to jump through hoops for changes, but the big developers seem to find it easy to throw up hundreds of poor quality boxes on green field sites.

        Some might say it would be good if Westminster was mysteriously flooded tomorrow for around ten years, I couldn’t possibly comment….

        You make a good point about its location just above the river although I suppose the river is ‘controlled.’ As regards previous flooding, when the palace existed in much the same place and form you might be interested in this report

        “A curious incident occurred in the year 1555, on the occasion of the Lord Mayor presenting the sheriffs to the Barons of the Exchequer. The rain, it appears, fell in such torrents that the Hall was filled with water, and boats were rowed into King Street from the landing-place—a timber stage raised on piles, called the “King’s Stairs.” This, however, was not the first time that Westminster Hall had been inundated, for in 1236 “wherries were rowed in the midst of the Hall;” and eight years after “men took their horses, because the water ran over all.” In 1579, after a flood, “fishes were left upon the floor of the Hall by the subsiding stream.”

        tonyb

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        October 1, 2019 9:56 am

        £30-40,000 times 28 million homes confirms Prof Mike Kelly’s estimate of £1 trillion or more just to insulate the housing stock.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      September 30, 2019 8:42 pm

      John H. I lived in the USA (NC) for a couple of years and friends from there came to the UK to visit. The thing they most noticed was that many of the homes in the UK were older than the US itself (post 1776).
      My point is that heating old (v OLD!) homes is very expensive compared to modern builds – and even more-so when they are all-electric. When my daughter bought a house with night-storage electric radiators one of the first things I did was remove one of them and upgrade it

    • September 30, 2019 9:44 pm

      In the UK, we have long established gas networks which date back a century or more, based originally on town gas (made from converting coal to coke, ie a double whammy).

      Subsequently it was replaced by North Sea gas.

      Currently market prices for gas are about a quarter of electricity prices, both based on market prices, not state prescribed ones.

      Furthermore gas boilers can quickly warm up a house, which heat pumps are incapable of doing.

      Worse still, electricity prices are going to rocket because of expensive renewable obligations

      BTW John -When you talk “gas”, do you mean Calor Gas? Obviously that would be a completely different kettle of fish

      • HotScot permalink
        October 1, 2019 1:20 am

        Paul

        If you peruse the new build and self build ‘eco’ house options, which I have been doing of late (actually for about the last 5 years) you will find those with Air or Ground source heat pumps are invariably provisioned with a solid fuel (usually log burning) fire as an additional heat source.

        Hot water provision in the best eco houses using heat pumps is, and will remain, a problem unless supplemented by a secondary heating source as, once you empty the water tank, it takes many hours for heat pumps to replenish it. People will be forced to use expensive immersion heaters.

        Additionally, whilst an Air source heat pump might prove adequate for isolated homes, the combined racket of several dozen of them across a new housing development would be unbearable. there would be a combined low level noise nuisance that would prove unbearable for some.

        Will ground source heat pumps be a better solution? Perhaps yes, but modern gardens are not expansive enough to accommodate piping laid horizontally a meter below ground. Some very expensive deep drilling would be necessary for each house in addition to the cost of a very expensive ‘boiler’, better described as a heat converter.

        There will of course be the need for mechanical ventilation with highly efficient heat converters to ensure as much heat as possible is retained within the house. These will take regular maintenance or they will fail and dampness will be a menace.

        People will end up desperately attempting to heat their homes in winter with calor gas heaters etc. which will cause more damp and, more importantly, innumerable deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning as houses will be, necessarily, virtually air tight.

        These schemes dreamed up by government on desk top studies will also prove another cowboy opportunity, like double glazing and solar panels.

        As bad as the housing crisis is now, it will get a whole lot worse if this insane scheme is enacted.

        Super efficient housing systems with heat pumps and alternative heating sources are not viable in the UK as our winters are too mild. The vast cost of sophisticated equipment and building methods cannot justify themselves as we only fully use them for four months of the year.

        The demand in the UK is principally for instant hot water all year round, an expectation adequately met by efficient gas fired combination boilers which can also efficiently meet out heating expectations for the short winters we endure.

        How to turn a £250,000 build cost for a self build into a £500,000 build cost?

        Demand Passivehaus certification.

      • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
        October 1, 2019 5:34 am

        Propane is used, but the term Calor gas is new to me. Our nearest neighbor uses propane and has a large white tank [~400 gal.; 1500 L] in the front yard. Next nearest neighbor is also all electric. We are about 6 miles away from the nearest gas line.
        Air-sourced heat pumps can have resistance heaters for fast ramp-up or for when outside air is too cold. Ours does. The house (built in 1981) has standard walls (3.5 inches interior, with insulation) for that time. Now, homes are often built with 5.5 inches interior space walls.
        Common terms are 2×4 and 2×6 but those numbers are as cut from the log. After finishing they are smaller.
        My parents lived in western Pennsylvania, not far from Drake’s first oil well. Many folks had gas wells on their properties and heated and lighted the home with their own gas. One of the reasons I was not fond of gas is that an aunt had small gas lights mounted on the walls, in addition to gas heat. My sister and I did not like to visit because of the smell and the dirty walls. Even in our own home (gas heat/electric lights) there was the “spring cleaning” ritual of using Absorene® dry cleaner to remove the grayness and smell from the walls.

        One of the more interesting things about reading posts from other countries is learning about the differences in how things were/are done. Now (here) many houses are built off-site and trucked as modules to the land. Here is a short video: Link

        For much more search using “Heritage modular homes”

        Thanks Paul, and those that comment, for making this one of my favorite places to visit.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        October 1, 2019 1:30 pm

        Calor is a brand of gas that is available in cylinders or delivered to bulk tanks. Where properties are off the gas grid – common where I live – then the option is a gas tank or an oil tank. Most use oil. They may use gas cylinders for cooking but often have a solid fuel Aga stove. Or use electric.

        Gas is much better for domestic heating – and for cooking if preferred – than electricity. The other options you can use are woodchip – biomass – boilers. The problem with the pumps is that they are driven by electricity that will only continue to soar in price as the amount of unreliable generation increases so your heating costs will rocket.

        An important question is are you able to retrofit gas? If not mains then Calor?

        And this insane policy highlights the problem of us having two Labour parties – one Red and the other Blue!

  2. Broadlands permalink
    September 30, 2019 6:32 pm

    The lunacy would become clear if the definition of Net-Zero was defined and used. It and “net neutrality” call for a balance between emissions of carbon and the removal of carbon. The first is easy, the second is not possible, and certainly not by 2050. Technology is unable to store even one part-per-million, never mind the 40 billion being added now.

    • September 30, 2019 6:44 pm

      And if there was documented and published science in it and not just specious claims.

  3. The Man at the Back permalink
    September 30, 2019 7:45 pm

    Well I have long thought that we were run by lunatics – but this article confirms that I was wrong. There is no lunacy involved just the pursuit of money – and it isn’t only the left, although many of the cast of characters purport to be of the left. It isn’t only that conservatives (small “c”) around the world are useful idiots, many are in the trough already as we well know.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/climate-money-trail/5690209

    • JimW permalink
      October 1, 2019 9:14 pm

      That article is spot on. The very wealthy are using the ‘useful idiots’ in the greenblob to further their aims. They will allow some UN style redistribution of tax payers money, but the real aim is to create a new feudalism with them at the top.

  4. Tonyb permalink
    September 30, 2019 9:30 pm

    It’s surely worth every penny to spend one trillion pounds to cut emissions to zero by 2050 and, according to Nature magazine, achieve a theoretical temperature reduction of three hundredth of a degree centigrade.

    Just think, if we spent only two trillion we could save a magnificent six hundredths of a degree , assuming of course sensitivity is as projected, which seems doubtful according to actual observation

    Tonyb

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 1, 2019 10:07 am

      ,£1 trillion is very unlikely to get you to net zero unless you prioritise crashing the economy. Even then, emissions from crematoria would be hard to deal with. The cost would be several trillion, and the consequence would be economic collapse as we became completely uncompetitive and unable to pay for imports of everything that we no longer made.

  5. M E permalink
    September 30, 2019 9:53 pm

    Mr Johnson needs all the backing he can get and cannot lose the votes of many environmentalists. Not doubt the antigas legislation and the recent promotion of nuclear fusion power will please many female backers. ( disclaimer. I’m female and I don’t think much of the education of middleage females today. harrrumph!)

  6. john cooknell permalink
    September 30, 2019 9:54 pm

    But every home will have a “smart” meter!

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      September 30, 2019 11:18 pm

      Absolutely necessary for ensuring fair rationing of a limited but essential resource.

      • October 3, 2019 4:51 am

        If by “fair” you mean the rich get more and the poor less, than yeah, it’ll be “fair.”

  7. Pancho Plail permalink
    September 30, 2019 10:52 pm

    He is only talking about banning gas boilers from new builds, it is not going to be retrospective.
    That said, the preferred solution seems to be ground source heat pumps for new housing estates (it is cheaper as they have the earth moving equipment on-site). The research I have done seems to suggest that there are problems of declining efficiency of GSHP over time especially in high density housing developments.
    This of course means that the poor old householder will face increasing electricity costs and then massive replacement costs for the unicorn powered treadmill or whatever is the preferred alternative by then.

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      October 1, 2019 5:49 am

      Ground source just adds a greater level of complexity and costs, especially if things go wrong. Just adding to Tonyb’s comment.

      New tight-houses with emergency wood heaters also require an outside air source. Also proper venting and maintaining that. Things happen if the residents don’t pay attention to these things.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      October 1, 2019 2:19 pm

      “He is only talking about banning gas boilers from new builds, it is not going to be retrospective”

      If you believe that you are being naive. Politicians lie, it’s what they do! I have a letter from Edward Timpson at the Home Office, which my MP forwarded onto me a few years back. It was in response to my concerns about ISP’s being required to store all records of their customers web activity. He assured me that “There are no plans to introduce any such monitoring”. I didn’t believe it the time, and sure enough, within 18 months we started hearing that just such regulations were being formulated. Now the UK has, in the Digital Economy Act 2017, one of the most onerous web monitoring schemes in the Western world, and although the “Porn Block” as it’s called, has been put on hold, I have no doubt that it will eventually come to fruition. It is just another example (like our Climate Policy) where ignorant politicians are being lead up the garden path by powerful lobbying groups, who are able to use emotive terms like “Climate Change” & “Think of the Cheeeeldrun” to usher in ever more restrictive legislation.

  8. September 30, 2019 11:09 pm

    Pancho

    Ground source heat pumps need some 700 square metres of land to operate effectively

    https://smartrenewableheat.com/blog/how-much-space-needed-for-ground-source-heat-pump-gshp/

    I can think of no modern estates I have seen that has this amount of space available. High cost and lack of space seems a double whammy

    Tonyb

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      September 30, 2019 11:22 pm

      Makes you think someone has not thought through this revolution in energy use.

      • dave permalink
        October 1, 2019 9:47 am

        Ground source heat pumps.

        Basically, for every house you would need TWO building plots. And that puts an extra one or two hundred thousand pounds on the cost of a new house.

        Or dig lots of really deep holes. And immediately see the yield of heat go down since it can only trickle into such holes slowly.

        BONKERS to the Nth degree.

    • Ivan permalink
      October 3, 2019 4:17 pm

      700 m2 is for a horizontal system. The alternative is a vertical system, which you don’t need a garden for – the borehole is only 0.25m across. Though clearly you still need the bulky electrical plant as for any ground source system. For retrofit you need access to get in a drilling rig to drill a 100m+ deep borehole. For new-build, you can put it all in a basement under the building. Vertical systems are more efficient, but a horizontal system is cheaper if you are only serving one smaller-than-a-bankers-mansion house.

      So the practical efficient method of extending ground source systems to many more densely populated areas, even suburban sprawl, is using vertical systems, but each would be shared across several properties. Hot water would be distributed by pipe as a small local heat network. Most properties would require no space at all, just a small area of communal space per several properties for the borehole and plant.

      One difficulty with this idea is that, after distribution, the hot water is a bit less warm again than it would be if you had your own personal heat pump. But there is also the possibility of uprating the heat. Instead of taking the water direct from the distribution pipe, the water passes through a heat exchanger with a small heatpump which then allows the heat to be uprated into your house at a higher temperature than in the distribution pipe. Then it is of suitable temperature for your existing radiators, etc.

      In general I don’t think you’d have a hot water tank with a ground source heatpump system. It should be capable of providing near-instant hot water like a combi boiler. So slow to heat the tank up shouldn’t be an issue.

  9. Robin Guenier permalink
    October 1, 2019 9:49 am

    Two weeks ago, I discussed the Government’s ‘net zero 2050’ policy with my (Tory) MP. A first he tried to defend it on the basis of the need to combat climate change. My response was to point out that, even if he was right about that, the target was impracticable, unachievable, absurdly expensive and potentially damaging and that, in any case, few other big economies were interested – I cited the major ‘emerging’ economies for example. Eventually he conceded that I made ‘some very good points’. But, he said, if we don’t make it our policy, the ‘socialists’ will. The reality is, as ME has said above, that the Tories cannot afford to ‘lose the votes of environmentalists’ – whatever they may feel about reality. And of course the ‘socialists’ are now aiming for 2030. In other words, we are engaged in what Gwyn Prins & Steve Rayner described in 2007 as an ‘auction of promises’ in which politicians vie ‘to outbid each other with proposed emissions targets that were simply not achievable’: http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/units/mackinder/pdf/mackinder_Wrong%20Trousers.pdf

    It’s hard to see how we can extricate ourselves from this mess.

  10. October 1, 2019 10:13 am

    When I had a new gas boiler and radiators fitted they disconnected the Gas fire in the living room. This was not what I wanted. I found that this is British Gas policy on all new installations. I was told I would not need a gas fire in the living room as the new radiators are much better at heating the room. But I find that you still need that extra direct heat that you get from a gas fire on a cold damp day. Strange the British Gas adverts often feature a gas fire warming the family. Over the year gas costs about 2 thirds electric mostly from winter bills.

  11. Michael Adams permalink
    October 1, 2019 11:37 am

    This policy is not Boris’s. It was first announced by Philip Hammond early this year before Boris became PM. Strangely enough it only refers to boilers and not gas hobs etc.

    • tonyb permalink
      October 1, 2019 11:46 am

      The late great and otherwise sensible Prof Mackay of DECC said 10 years ago that ‘burning gas should be made a ‘thermogenic crime’ , Many here may be familiar with his book ‘hot air’ which demonstrated that land based renewables were no sort of answer to our energy needs.

      So quite where the means to power a 24/7 society will be found needs to be explained

      tonyb

  12. It doesn't add up... permalink
    October 1, 2019 12:40 pm

    I note that REF have reported on the constraint payments to Hornsea wind farm at prices of over £200/MWh, way in excess of their £158.75/MWh CFD current price. As more and more wind capacity comes on stream more and more wind curtailment will be needed. Why worry about being paid only £46/MWh (approximate the current value of £39.50/MWh in 2012 – like the BBC AEP fails to mention the 2012 base and correct to current value) you can get over £200/MWh for not producing?

  13. Dave Ward permalink
    October 1, 2019 2:00 pm

    @ HotScot October 1, 2019 1:20 am:

    “There will of course be the need for mechanical ventilation as houses will be, necessarily, virtually air tight”

    And this needs electricity to run it, so when the Renewable Grid can’t cope you will either freeze (in winter) or swelter (in summer). That is, of course, if you haven’t died through lack of breathable air.

    Along with desperate householders (illegally) retrofitting gas or oil* boilers, I can see lots of sealed windows being ripped out and replaced with opening units.

    * That is, assuming the authorities (by this stage) aren’t carrying out regular checks to see if houses are having large quantities of bottled gas or oil delivered. Since cash & cheques look likely to be outlawed before much longer, all transactions will be electronic, and thus traceable…

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 1, 2019 3:23 pm

      Gas smart meters will cut off your supply automatically. Clandestine oil supply is probably easier to organise. Ask the Irish.

  14. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 2, 2019 10:04 am

    More bonkers boilers – a reminder of the ruinous (financially to the taxpayer and to the environment and air quality) RHI bio-mass scheme. It could not be more nuts – well perhaps nuts could be farmed for nut-oil for heating, that might be more nuts.

    https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-7526441/Our-Green-boiler-cost-earth-landed-court.html

    £40 to heat a tank of water? Maybe the boiler was deliberately over-specified to burn as much wood as possible to get the cash – like in Ireland? Beyond me.

  15. J Martin permalink
    October 2, 2019 11:06 pm

    One consequence may be that gasless new builds could be slow to sell, with a consequent increase in price of houses that do have gas.

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