Heat Networks: All you need to know – Guest Blog
In 2014, the Government introduced regulations to establish uniformity among suppliers in the way they bill customers while incentivising reduced consumption. Heat networks are popular in Europe, but despite the technology contributing to lower carbon emissions, supply only around two percent of homes and offices in the UK.
What are heat networks?
Heat networks are shared heating systems which provide a more energy efficient alternative to domestic boiler heating systems. They incorporate systems where water is heated or chilled at a central source (such as a boiler or plant room) and then channelled to customers through a pipe network for heating, cooling or hot water use. There are two types of heat network. Communal networks serve a single building containing multiple customers, such as a block of flats or offices. District networks serve multiple buildings, such as a housing estate or university campus.
What do the regulations involve?
The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 are enforced by the Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS), part of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. They place certain responsibilities on heat suppliers – anyone who supplies and charges for the supply of heating, cooling and/or hot water to customers through a heat network. These responsibilities include: informing OPSS of the details of their networks; installing heat meters to measure customers’ consumption (where it is cost-effective and technically feasible to do so), and use those meters to bill customers by actual consumption.
Heat suppliers should inform OPSS of their existing networks as soon as possible, using the official. This asks for information such as the number of buildings and customers on those networks as well as, for metered networks, the amount of heat generated and supplied. A fresh notification form must be completed every four years after the initial notification. Heat suppliers will soon be required to use a cost-effectiveness tool to determine whether or not they should install heat meters. The cost-effectiveness tool will be released following a planned consultation. Where the tool gives a positive response, heat suppliers will be expected to install meters and begin billing customers by actual consumption as soon as the meters have been installed. Where the tool gives a negative response, heat suppliers will be required to re-use the tool in four years’ time.
The Regulations apply across the UK and are enforced by OPSS on behalf of the devolved governments. The enforcement approach taken by OPSS is always to help heat suppliers achieve compliance, although non-compliance can result in financial penalties. More information can be found at.
- Office for Product Safety and Standards