Welcome to January 2026!

OFTEC’s head of public affairs, Malcolm Farrow, looks into his crystal ball to see what life in 2026 might be like.

Imagine for a moment we can travel forward in time. It’s January 2026, it’s a freezing cold morning, there’s snow on the ground and you’ve just received a call from a long-standing customer. Their boiler has failed. You drive out through the frozen countryside, check it and find needs to be replaced. You break the bad news to the customer, and they ask what the options are.

This is where it gets a bit tricky. The regulations have changed, and you can no longer fit a new oil boiler automatically. First, you need to work out whether it is reasonably practical to fit a heat pump. The customer’s house was built in the 1920s, it’s got some insulation, but it’s not fully up to modern standards. As well as removing the existing appliance and storage tank, all the radiators will need replacing to enable low temperature heating to be used and, because they had a combi boiler, a new hot water storage cylinder will also need to be fitted.

You go through the checklist and, although it’s a borderline case, according to the regulations a heat pump must be fitted. Your customer is actually lucky because you at least now fit these appliances, many installers still don’t, leading to a skills shortage in some areas.

However, because of supply chain problems following the regulation changes, most heat pumps are back ordered, so are radiators and cylinders. The cost reductions promised by the government haven’t really materialised either, so your customer is in for a shock. Quite a lot of changes will be needed to fit the new system so it will be a time-consuming job.

You work out a rough estimate and give them the bad news – It will cost around £12,000 and they’ll have to wait about a month – maybe longer – and there’s no guarantee they’ll qualify for any grant funding. Even without a crystal ball it is easy to imagine the expression on their face.

This doesn’t have to be the future
Fortunately, this isn’t yet reality. But it’s an example of what could happen if the Government’s policy proposals for decarbonising the heating in off-gas grid homes are too heat pump focused and implemented in a way that doesn’t offer enough choice and flexibility.

It’s vital that we alert customers to the Government’s plans. Most are completely unaware of how the changes will affect them. The Government is committed to its heat pump first policy and pressure from off-gas grid households is the key way to persuade it to modify its plans. We need thousands of customers to make their voices heard.

It’s time to support the Future Ready Fuel campaign

What do we want?
In our response to the Government’s recent consultation, we highlighted our concerns and some actions the Government must take. You can read our response on p5.

We want government to:

• Adopt a more technology-inclusive approach to encourage competition and choice, and ensure off-gas grid consumers are treated as fairly as possible
• Implement a consistent support framework for HVO, irrespective of the intended use. This would enable HVO to be supplied for use in heating for the same price as it is for transport.
• Prioritise older, less well-insulated oil heated homes for conversion to HVO when it is not considered ‘reasonably practical’ to install a heat pump.

It’s time to finish the job – let’s get this over the line!
The campaign is thriving. There’s already strong support for HVO from our customers but government is not yet convinced. Decisions will be made in the next 18 months so it’s now or never for liquid fuels.

Future Ready Fuel

How you can help us

• Give the Future Ready Fuel campaign flyers to all your customers (copies are available as free hard copies or email-friendly PDF files).
• Include information and links to the Future Ready Fuel campaign on your website and social media pages (we have logos and information ready for you to use).
• If you use social media, follow Future Ready Fuels on Facebook and twitter, and ‘like’ the campaign posts.
• Write to your own MP and add your voice to the campaign (we have a letter ready for you to use).

Liquid fuels can have a bright future –if we all act together… NOW!