Can Central Heating Boilers Put Climate Change Goals At Risk?

A picture of air pollution

In a world where everyone blames automobiles for air pollution, it comes as a surprise to find out that actually heating is the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK, making up more than one-third of the total. In fact, 14% of UK greenhouse gases come from our homes, a similar level to emissions from cars. Decarbonizing heat is the biggest energy challenge in tackling the climate emergency, particularly because it requires action on a national scale, involving millions of individual homes. And unfortunately at the moment, the percentage of low-carbon heat homes is just under 10% in the UK.


How Does Central Heating Contribute To The Increasing Levels Of Pollution?

Central heating boilers use the most energy of any form of appliance in a home and if they are not well maintained then they will need to be replaced much more often than other forms of appliances because they become more polluting than they are useful. The main factor that will have the biggest environmental impact is the water used by the boiler, if this water is not recycled properly then it will result in large quantities of pollutants being released into the atmosphere. The main way in which this water is recycled is by using a wastewater system, for example, if a house has a washing machine then it can be converted to water for the washing machines by making use of a sewage treatment plant which will process the wastewater and use it for the production of the tap water.

If central heating boilers are not serviced regularly then they can also have an environmental impact because they will take up space. For example, a boiler room that is used very frequently could have a negative impact on the surrounding houses because the noise alone will be enough to keep the neighbors awake at night and the heat generated by the boiler can actually increase the temperature of the room. This is especially true when used in homes that have wooden flooring because the heat produced will cause the wood to expand. The expansion of the wood means that more room will need to be made within the house to accommodate all the extra furniture. It, therefore, goes without saying that regularly central heating boilers should be serviced and kept in good working order.

A picture of air pollution


Finally, it is also worth mentioning that in major cities, gas boilers are the main source of nitrogen dioxide emissions. Although most of the energy used by gas boilers is used to provide heat, some of this heat is emitted as radiation into the atmosphere. Although the amount of radiation emitted is minimal, this heat has the potential to damage the ozone layer if it is let loose in the right situations. In addition, there is the potential to release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere if the boilers do not have the proper emissions controls in place. Because central heating boilers have the potential to produce harmful gases and substances, it is important that they are serviced regularly to ensure that no such issues exist.