10 years of the condensing boiler

1st Jan 2015


10 years ago the UK heating industry was on the brink of momentous change. Those of us who were in the industry back in 2005 will remember the shockwave that travelled through the industry when the Government signalled its intended move to condensing boilers, via the change to Building Regulations for England and Wales.

A change that has transformed the heating industry and delivered, the use of energy efficient condensing boilers in 44 per cent of households (2012), as reported in the recently published English housing survey. This figure could now be over 50 per cent.

Strikingly; in 2013; only 26 per cent of boiler sales in Europe were for gas condensing boilers, compared with an incredible 99 per cent in the UK. The UK accounted for 42 per cent of the total annual European gas condensing boiler sales.

This is a significant achievement, and to celebrate the heating industry came together on the 5th November 2014 at a Parliamentary reception to mark the imminent 10 year anniversary of the 2005 revision to the building regulations that required that all new and replacement domestic boilers would be condensing products. Hosted by the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council the event looked at the very real positive impact that this had on improving energy efficiency together with the social, economic and environmental benefits.

Lord Whitty the host of the reception talked about the heating evolution, and how it could be said that the changes have been the single most important household energy efficiency policy measure introduced by Government to date;

Following the 2003 Energy White Paper, one of the Government's first steps in their action to seek improvements to the energy efficiency of homes, was through changes in the building regulations which deal with the minimum standards for buildings.

Climate change was, as it is now a serious and urgent issue. Hard hitting action was needed.

Action that required all gas boilers installed in England and Wales to be of the condensing type. This was at a time when the condensing boiler share of the market was only about 10 per cent.

So challenging was the notion; the industry together with HHIC produced a 214 page response to the government, outlining our concerns.

However the regulation changes came, and in hindsight; it was the absolute right move. Recognising that the regulation alone was not enough, the industry pressed government for a programme of alliance across the industry.


In my view, the partnerships and initiatives applied across the heating industry, via this alliance were paramount to our success. In 2013, UK condensing boiler sales figures were greater than that of 29 other European countries combined, with 42 per cent of total condensing boiler sales.

Findings released in a report in November 2013, from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) entitled: UK’s Carbon Footprint 2004-2011, indicate that the UK‟s total carbon footprint, including other greenhouse gases (GHG) fell by 14 per cent between 1997 and 2011, with a peak in 2004.

It is my opinion that our united approach to condensing boilers has been fundamental in reducing our carbon emissions, and therefore should be used as a model for the future.

The condensing boiler challenge was not only overcome, it has been the biggest success in our industry to date. A perfect example of how the industry can apply common sense and work together to achieve great things.

There are thought to be over 12 million inefficient boilers currently fitted into UK homes. In order to tackle this figure, and our carbon emissions, there needs to be more partnership working.

Not only that, we need to future proof the system, mobilise the supply chain and continue to devise incentives like the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in order to encourage homeowners to install new, more efficient boilers, and reduce our carbon emissions.