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.
- 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.
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.