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France brings in ban on gas boilers for new housing

As part of its continuing drive for more energy-efficient housing, France is outlawing gas boilers in new housing.

A lady pictured next to her gas boiler in France.
Gas boilers have relatively high CO2 emission.s This method of heading is now effectively outlawed for new-builds. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP)

French environmental regulations mean that from the beginning of 2022 it is effectively impossible to install a gas boiler in a newly built house. 

This rule applies to anyone who has made a demand for a permis de construire (building permit) from January 1st 2022 onwards. 

For the moment this applies only to new buildings, and not to people doing a renovation project or changing the heating system in their homes.

The aim of this regulation is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The law sets the maximum CO2 emissions from household heating at 4kg per year – a limit that would be quickly surpassed by any gas boiler. 

In areas where a new gas supplies have been authorised prior to January 2022, those who lodge a request for planning permission before the end of 2023 will still be able to install gas boilers. 

Newly built collective housing – blocks of flats for example – will see emissions limits being gradually introduced. These limits are higher than for individual houses.

The restrictions for collective housing will lead to a “quasi-ban on gas boilers from 1st January 2025”, according to the the service-public website. Gas boilers will only be able to be used in a hybrid system, with a heat pump for example, in cases of extreme cold. 

Newly built offices and educational facilities (primary and secondary schools) will also have to comply with the new regulation if a request for planning permission is made after 1st July 2022. 

What alternatives?

  • Heat pumps – pompes à chaleur 

Heat pumps have a smaller carbon footprint than gas boilers. There are many different kinds but they generally work by drawing heat from outside a building into it – even when it is cold outside. 

  • Solar power

Solar power is becoming ever more efficient, powerful and cost-effective, but still remains more expensive than using a gas boiler or a heat pump. To get the most out of a solar panel system, you would have to be living in the south of France where it is generally sunnier. 

  • Biomass heating

Biomass heaters generally work by burning wooden pellets. If this wood is harvested sustainably, it is a far cleaner way to heat your home than using a gas boiler. 

Financing for renovations

France has a number of state-backed schemes to help you finance ecological renovations of your home if it has already been built.

If you live in a property in France as your primary residence, you access significant amounts of financing – up to €10,000 – to perform renovations on your home to make it more energy efficient via the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme. 

The money can be used for insulation, heating, ventilation and energy audits of homes. You cannot access this grant if your French property is used as a second-home. 

READ MORE French property renovation grants closed to second-home owners

You could also access a zero percent interest loan, known as an éco-PTZ, for example. These loans of up to €50,000 will be maintained at least until the end of 2023. They are issued by regular banks, but backed by the government. 

One of the benefits of taking out a loan rather than a grant is that there are no earnings limits. You must simply be the property owner – if you don’t live at the home yourself, you must be renting it or commit to renting it once the works are complete. 

The property must be at least two years old.

Works that can be paid for with an éco-PTZ include: roof, wall, window and door insulation; and installation of renewable-powered heating. 

The government advice for all energy efficiency related renovations is to begin by isolating your property, before installing new heating systems. 

Member comments

    1. Yes…because wood burning is not putting extra carbon into the atmosphere, merely cycling through what is already present during the carbon lifecycle (tree grows = traps carbon / tree dies/burns = carbon released / new tree grows = carbon bound/trapped again). This is not the case with coal or any fossil fuels which is adding new carbon to the atmosphere/cycle and is where the real problem lies.

      1. Exactly, it’s not rocket science, but for those people who don’t understand environmental issues, you’d think it was.

        1. Judging by the smog and the smell of burning this morning, I thought the Russians had changed their minds and were invading France instead.😛

          1. Nah, that’s every day from November till March…even the Russians will be coughing after a few hours in this stench.

      2. Ah, the high-flying solvers of “real problems”. Meanwhile in all cities in France in the winter you can see what you breath, and in fact you can barely breath from all the wood burning, but hey, that’s not the real problem, right?

        1. Unfortunately there is a lot of confusion around the environmental consequences of burning wood. Often a newspaper article quotes the statistics of an open fireplace in a room and then extrapolates those figures for all wood burning appliances. Open fires are the worst! Pretty flames but very dirty, they don’t heat the room but create a draft that sends all the warm air up the chimney. Better are the closed wood burners. And here there is a great variety in price and quality. Ranging from a simple steel box with a chimney to highly sophisticated wood gazification stoves that comply with the latest EU norms on efficiency, emissions and small particles.
          In 2020 the new regulations became more strict than the old ones of 2010. Officially the new wood burners have to comply with these regulations. A modern pellet stove has a 20-fold lower emission per unit of generated heat than an open wood fire. And a wood gazification stove produces ven less pollution. Important for all is using well dried and clean wood.

  1. This seems like a poor idea. Natural gas is very clean burning, and CO2 is not really a pollutant. I get the “greenhouse gas” argument, but aren’t there more important ones? This will make heating homes more expensive over the long run and I doubt it accomplishes much.

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PROPERTY

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at societe.com. If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.

Vocab

Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.

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