Could gas cookers soon be consigned to history?

Gas cookers could go off grid in homes built after 2025 if UK government advisers get their way.

In an independent report on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said to meet UK greenhouse gas emissions targets, new builds should not be connected to the gas grid within six years at the latest.

The advisers said instead, cooking should be done on induction hobs and electric cookers and homes heated through low-carbon heat networks and heat pumps, which extract thermal energy from the air or even the ground.

They also called on households to reduce water-usage by purchasing more water-efficient washing machines, installing low-flow showers and taps and taking short showers, which use on average 32 litres of hot water, compared to 80 litres for a hot bath.

In the report, UK homes: Fit for the Future?, the CCC criticised existing homes and the framework for existing housing infrastructure as not fit for purpose and said changes are essential to reduce the 14% of total greenhouse gas emissions currently released in UK homes.

“Efforts to adapt the UK’s housing stock to the impacts of the changing climate, for higher average temperatures, flooding and water scarcity, are lagging far behind what is needed to keep us safe and comfortable, even as these climate change risks grow,” the report said, finding that water consumption in the UK at home is far higher than in most European countries.

“The costs of building to a specification that achieves the aims set out in this report are not prohibitive, and getting design right from the outset is vastly cheaper than forcing retrofit later.”

UK housing: Fit for the future?
UK housing: Fit for the future?

It said it was up to five times cheaper to make changes to new homes – about £5,000 – than retrofitting existing homes, more than £26,000.

The report said that 1.5 million new homes are planned for 2022, and these must be built to be low-carbon, energy and water-efficient and climate resilient.

“Around 10 years ago over half of UK homes had a gas hob, though often with an electric oven. With the growing popularity of induction the numbers are falling,” said the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA).

“However, we understand that gas is by far the most popular fuel for domestic central heating and clearly this will represent a vastly greater energy spend.”

The Home Builders Federation, which represents private sector house building, urged the government to be cautious about banning gas boilers without making sure that alternative technology was up to scratch.

A spokesperson for the trade body told kbbreview that heat pumps provide a “low-grade heat”, which means that builders have to increase the size of the radiators by about 20% to compensate, which has design and cost implications.

They added: “Developers have demonstrated a clear commitment to this agenda and new homes are considerably more energy efficient than older ones.

“New technologies are increasingly being incorporated that drive down emissions, however gas boilers are currently the most attractive and cheapest options for consumers and limitations remain with the alternatives available.

“The ongoing costs and comfort of homeowners is an absolute priority for home builders and it must be ensured that alternative heat sources are suitably attractive, available and efficient before withdrawing existing options.”

The CCC report suggested smart water meters, smart appliances, and smart heating and lighting systems and controls could help to inform energy choices and so bring down energy usage.

Max McCormick, product manager for kitchens at Miele UK, said: “It’s right that new builds should be responsibly sourcing energy for the home, however this needn’t be to the disadvantage of the consumer when it comes to cooking.

“Advances in induction make this a popular alternative to gas, offering safety benefits for families with young children, fast heat-up times and responsive heat control for precision cooking and perfect results.

“At Miele, our sales are already heavily weighted towards induction in the hob category, demonstrating the popularity of this cooking technology.

“We are proud of our longstanding commitment to sustainability, creating products suited to modern demands, that are built-to-last and market-leading in the innovation they offer.”

Lord John Deben, chairman of the CCC, said: “Simply put, there is no way in which the UK can meet the legally-binding climate change that Parliament has determined unless we take the measures outlined in this report.”

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