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Understanding heat networks

  • What is a heat network and how do they work?

    Heat networks are systems where heat is distributed through a series of pipes within a single building, multiple buildings or even across an entire city! If your home is serviced by a heat network, you do not need an individual boiler or electric heater.

    Heat in a heat network is centrally generated. The central heat source is often referred to as the Energy Centre. Energy Centres can be powered in many ways and might come from a number of different energy sources, including renewable technologies and then distributed to your property by distribution pipework. You will normally have a Heat Interface Unit (HIU) or other system to turn the heating on and off - it’s normally around the same size as a gas boiler.

    This means you will pay for what you use, as measured by a heat meter, also known as a thermal energy meter. You won't have your own individual boiler and your utility supplier for heat and/or hot water will be the Heat Network Operator, which is the organisation that operates and/or owns the heat network.

    There are a number of sustainability benefits of heat networks as well as providing a reliable and cost-effective method of supply to consumers. A heat network isn't a new idea and they have been extremely popular across Europe for decades and are increasingly common in the UK, especially when linked to renewable technologies.

  • How do I switch my heat network supplier or disconnect from the system?

    Heat networks are usually supplied by a single supplier and you cannot normally switch supplier or disconnect from the system, unless your lease or energy supply agreement states otherwise. This should be highlighted to you during the sales process, or when you agree to rent a property.

    You cannot switch supplier as your utility provider owns the infrastructure that supplies heat, including the energy centre and distribution pipework. Your supplier will also normally own the meter within your home or business and may also own some of the infrastructure in your home or business. It would not be possible for another supplier to take on management of part of this relatively small network, at least not cost effectively, or on such a small scale.

    Your utility provider may ensure value for money commitments in other ways, such as tendering for fuel supply using their larger purchasing power, tendering for administration and other services and being part of the voluntary Heat Trust. It may also provide cost comparisons or link prices to alternative supplies.

    Heat networks are not regulated in the same way as electricity and gas but this is likely to change in the future as heat networks are becoming a mainstream energy supply, which is increasingly recognised by the Government.

    To learn more watch our 'What is a Heat Network?' video below:

  • Who is the regulator for heat networks?

    There is no government appointed regulator for heat networks. The government is instead supporting industry-led initiatives to improve consumer protections and technical standards. These include the Heat Trust and the CIBSE Code of Practice.

    If your particular heat network is registered with the Heat Trust this will be clearly displayed with the Heat Trust logo on your statements and all correspondence. You can also check whether your utility supplier has registered on the Heat Trust website.

    We also ensure that additional support is provided to customers who wish to make a complaint, along with options to escalate their complaint to your utility supplier if you do not feel we have managed your account or complaint in a satisfactory manner.

    Check out our Complaints Procedure or Get in Touch if you wish to make a complaint or provide feedback.

  • How can I make a complaint or provide feedback?

    We welcome any feedback on the services we provide, and we want to proactively resolve any issue that may occur, please Get in Touch.

    We also know we can make mistakes and when we do we want to put things right, please check out our Complaints Procedure if you wish to register a formal complaint.

    We will notify your utility supplier of all feedback and complaints. If your complaint relates to an element of the service we do not control, such as the cost or tariff, we will formally advise you of this and pass your complaint to your utility supplier and provide a named contact at the utility supplier for any further follow-up.

  • Calculate your estimated heat costs

    The Heat Cost Calculator has been developed to help provide customers living on district or communal heat networks an indication of what it would cost to heat a similar sized property using an individual gas boiler.

    The results will not be reliable for customers living on heat networks that do not have heat meters or where the right comparison is electric heating.

    The calculator takes the amount of heat you use (or an estimate if you are unsure) and factors in boiler efficiency, repair and maintenance costs, and the cost to replace a boiler for the size of your property. These costs are included to best achieve a comparison to the costs that are included in your heat bill.

    Visit the Heat Trust website below to use their heat trust calculator. Be sure to also read through their information sheet before using the calculator.

    Click here to view the Heat Trust: Heat Cost Calculator

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