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Heat networks

What is a heat network, and where does my heating and hot water come from?

Heat networks, also known as communal and district heating schemes, are a lower carbon way to heat buildings. Instead of homes being heated by individual gas boilers, for heat networks there is one central energy source providing heating and hot water to each property via a network of insulated pipes. These systems aren’t just used for heat and hot water but can also incorporate a centralised source of chilled water which is distributed in order to provide cooling.

What is the difference between communal heat networks and district heat networks?

Communal heat networks serve a single building containing multiple customers, such as a block of flats or offices. District heat networks serve multiple buildings, such as a housing estate or university campus.

Do I still have a boiler in my apartment?

Instead of a boiler, your home will have a Heating Interface Unit (HIU) which transfers the heat from the heat network into your home. From here you can control your energy consumption through your programmer and thermostats or radiator valves (TRVs). As the HIU is simply transferring the heat from the network, the good news is that there is no need for an individual gas supply for your home. This makes the system safer than gas as annual service checks are not required. You’ll only need to look to get your HIU services on average every 2-3 years.

Are heat networks common in the UK?

Heat networks are very popular in northern Europe such as in Denmark and Germany, but currently only supply around 2% of the UK’s heat demand. However, as heat generation accounts for around one-third of UK carbon emissions, the government are promoting heat networks as an important contributor towards clean growth and carbon-cutting targets.

Who manages the heat network?

Your heat supplier (who supplies and charges for the supply of heating, cooling and/or hot water) is responsible for the management of the system. Heat suppliers may appoint service providers, such as Insite Energy, to carry out services like metering & billing or maintenance on their behalf. Look your home up on the 'Your development' page to find out who your heat supplier is.

Can I switch supplier?

As the heat for your property is generated on site, you cannot switch supplier. However, support and guidance is available for any queries or concerns about your heat supply, to ensure customers are protected and treated fairly in line with other utilities.

How are heat networks more environmentally friendly?

Although the same number of homes need to be heated, by generating the energy for the homes at a single centralised source rather than via multiple individual boilers the system is much more efficient as more useful energy is produced and less fuel is used, creating economies of scale. On average, a property connected to a heat network will consume 35% less energy than on a conventional gas boiler system.

How is my energy generated?

Heat networks can use a flexible range of fuels to generate energy and can combine different sources. The most common energy source is currently traditional gas fired boilers, however lower carbon alternatives are increasingly being integrated into centralised energy systems such as heat pumps, biomass, and energy from waste.

Can heat networks save me money on my heating bills?

If managed effectively, heat networks can cut costs that ultimately end up on your heating bill. This is because there is no need for individual gas boiler inspections, there is less equipment to maintain, and the centralised generator of energy typically lasts longer than domestic gas boilers.

Because the energy you use is generated on site, this sometimes results in higher daily standing charges than you would experience on gas or electricity. However, due to the system being much more efficient than gas or electricity delivered via the grid because the energy doesn’t have to be transported as far, you will resultantly use less energy overall. As a result, your annual energy bill should be similar to if you were on gas or electricity.

Insite Energy, Studio 4 Stuart House, St John’s Street, Peterborough, PE1 5DD

Insite Energy is registered by the FCA for anti-money laundering.