FAQs about Heat Trust

Heat Trust is a voluntary, stakeholder-led customer protection scheme for the district heating sector. It sets customer service standards that build on the service standards in the gas and electricity market. It also provides an independent dispute resolution service through an agreement with the Energy Ombudsman.

We have a stakeholder committee that agrees and reviews the customer standards set by Heat Trust.
Our vision is that all heat network customers have access to dependable heat supplies and excellent customer service.

Heat Trust delivers heat network customer protection by:
• applying robust customer service standards to heat suppliers;
• providing access to an independent dispute resolution service; and
• promoting best practice, continuous improvement, and innovation in customer service.
The Heat Trust Scheme is operated and managed by Heat Customer Protection Limited (company number: 09456667), a not-for-profit company that is limited by guarantee.

The Heat Trust Scheme is governed by a Board and an independent stakeholder Committee. The Board of Heat Customer Protection Limited is responsible for the activities of the company. Board members are required by law to act in the interests of Heat Customer Protection Ltd and not the company of their employment.

The stakeholder Committee is in charge of overseeing the Heat Trust Scheme Rules, which set the standards we require heat suppliers that join the Heat Trust Scheme to abide by.

The Committee has the role of ensuring that the service standards contained in the Heat Trust Scheme are robust. The Committee can make recommendations to the Board to amend the service standards to help ensure the Heat Trust Scheme is fulfilling its objectives.
Heat energy suppliers need to apply in order to register the district heating networks that they manage with the Heat Trust.

If a heat supplier meets the required preconditions, they can apply to become Registered Participants of the Heat Trust Scheme. If their application is accepted, they make a commitment to follow and abide by the rules and requirements set in the Scheme Rules.

Registered Participants are required to submit monitoring reports and will be independently monitored to ensure they are meeting the Scheme’s standards. Once a heat network has been successfully registered with the Heat Trust Scheme, customers on that network will benefit from the Scheme’s standards and will have access to the Energy Ombudsman’s Independent Complaint Handling Service.
Heat Trust was created to address customer service standards in the district heating market and provide access to an independent complaints service. This is particularly important for district heating customers as they are unable to switch heating suppliers.

The Heat Trust Scheme has established customer service standards that build on the service standards in the gas and electricity market. This is to ensure that customers on district heating receive a standard of service and protection that is equivalent, so far as possible, to that offered to gas and electricity customers.
The Heat Trust Scheme is aimed at heat energy suppliers who contract with domestic and micro business properties through a Heat Supply Agreement and provide separate heat bills to their customers.
A heat network must apply to register with the Heat Trust Scheme. For an up-to-date list of our Registered Participants and the heat networks registered with the Heat Trust Scheme please see the ‘Registered Participants’ section of the website.
We believe all heat networks should be required to meet the standards set by the Heat Trust.
The Heat Trust is a voluntary customer protection scheme and we encourage all heat networks to register with the Heat Trust. Doing this would ensure that all customers regardless of which heat network they live on, were assured the same quality and level of customer service, as well as access to the Energy Ombudsman.
We support increasing transparency in the market, but Heat Trust does not have the legal authority to give advice on individual pricing schemes and contract lengths.

We welcome the establishment of the Task Force on Post-2020 Heat Network Arrangements that is looking at fair pricing and contract-length.
The Heat Trust Scheme is a stakeholder-led, voluntary customer protection scheme, so it is important to have representation from across the sector. The wide range of stakeholders on the Committee, including representatives of heat suppliers, consumer bodies, local authorities, housing associations, consumer codes, and Scottish and UK government, provides the necessary skills and expertise to enable effective customer protection.
As a voluntary customer protection scheme, the Heat Trust Scheme does not have the authority to issue fines. Registered Participants of the Scheme are subject to independent audits, with severe non-compliance referred to the Non-Compliance panel. The individuals that sit on the Non-Compliance Panel are independent and have the power to rescind a Registered Participant’s membership of the Heat Trust Scheme.

Heat networks are increasingly often contractually required to register with the Heat Trust Scheme in order to access government funding, so losing membership will lead to loss of business and significant reputational damage.
As a voluntary customer protection scheme, Heat Trust can only apply the Scheme’s standards to heat networks registered with the Scheme. Heat Trust believes that all customers should have access to robust protection and consistently high service standards. We believe all heat networks should be required to meet the Heat Trust Scheme’s service standards as a minimum.
The Heat Trust does not have the legal authority to regulate pricing, advise or comment on pricing. Under its general competition powers, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has the ability to investigate areas relevant to its competition, markets and consumer functions. More information about the CMA can be found on their website here.

We believe that all stakeholders in the sector benefit from increased transparency so have developed the Heat Cost Calculator. The Heat Cost Calculator provides a general indication of what you could expect to pay for heating and hot water in a similar sized property that used an individual gas boiler. It has been created for information purposes only and does not provide a bespoke assessment.
All properties must provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when sold or rented, which provides the future occupant with details of the property’s energy efficiency level and an estimate of annual energy costs for the property.

EPCs provide a generic assessment of the cost of heating a property, based on an estimate of energy costs for a particular property size. They do not provide a specific, bespoke analysis of each customer’s property. This means that the figures they provide should be seen a broad guideline, rather than a bespoke assessment.

EPCs also do not typically include repair and maintenance costs for heating a property, which heat bills generally include, often as part of the standing charge. This means that additional costs, such as repair and maintenance costs which are included within in heat bill, are not factored into an EPC.

In our first annual report, we have suggested that an EPC should include an explanation on the costs that are included in its assessment and those that are not.

Whatever regulatory direction occurs in the future, Heat Trust believes that customer satisfaction should be the primary focus. We believe that all heat networks should be required to meet the standards set by the Heat Trust Scheme as a minimum.
Heat Trust is not a trade association; it is a voluntary stakeholder-led customer protection scheme for the district heating sector. 

This is demonstrated by how the company that administers the Heat Trust Scheme was formed.
The Heat Trust Scheme is managed by Heat Customer Protection Ltd (HCPL), a not-for-profit company that is owned by the Association for Decentralised Energy (a trade association). The two organisations are separate legal entities with separate Boards which ensures independence. In the Articles of Association for Heat Customer Protection Ltd the objectives are:
• To establish, develop, maintain and administer consumer assurance schemes for district heating and cooling networks; and
• To do anything which may be incidental or conducive to these objects.
We do not advocate or lobby on behalf of the Registered Participants of the Heat Trust Scheme. The established trade association for the district heating sector is the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).

FAQs on the Heat Cost Calculator

We believe further transparency is important in the sector. To help provide customers with information on the costs associated with district heating, we have developed a Heat Cost Calculator.

The Heat Cost Calculator provides a general indication of what you could expect to pay for heating and hot water in a similar sized property that used an individual gas boiler. It has been created for information purposes only and does not provide a bespoke assessment.
There are few information sources available to help customers get a sense of the cost of district heating compared to an alternative. The Heat Cost Calculator has been developed to provide customers access to better information on the cost of their heating and hot water needs against a common alternative.

It is a starting point. The Heat Cost Calculator is a tool which we intend to improve over time. Feedback from users will help inform future developments and improvements to the information the Heat Cost Calculator can provide customers.
The Heat Cost Calculator is operated by Heat Customer Protection Ltd, which manages Heat Trust. The Heat Cost Calculator has been developed under contract with Energylinx, who are fully accredited under the Ofgem Confidence Code to compare energy costs for domestic consumers.
The Heat Cost Calculator compares against gas central heating as it is the most common type of heating in the UK.

However, for a number of properties, particularly high-rise flats or off-gas grid properties, the correct alternative heating system to compare against would be electric heating.

We do intend to update the Heat Cost Calculator so that it can also compare against electric heating.
HIU stands for Hydraulic Interface Unit. It is the bridge between the main heat network and the individual heating pipes in each individual property. On modern district heating schemes, in place of a gas boiler, each property has an HIU. There are four main types of HIUs: Direct HIU, Indirect HIU, Heat only HIU and a HIU with a cylinder for hot water.
The Heat Cost Calculator is not looking to assess the efficiency of the heat network. It aims to provide general indication of what you could expect to pay for heating and hot water in a similar sized property that used an individual gas boiler. It has been created for information purposes only and does not provide a bespoke assessment.

It does not, therefore, factor in the performance of the heat network or the HIU.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has published a UK test standard for HIUs recently. BESA is now conducting tests on different HIUs and will publish results on its website here: https://www.thebesa.com/ukhiu 

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.
Anyone can use the Heat Cost Calculator, but if you live in a rented property or you do not have an individual heat meter, the Heat Cost Calculator is less reliable.

Council / Housing Association properties: Where the landlord is a council or a housing association, customers can be charged in different ways. Some customers pay their heat charge with their rent. Others receive their heat charge as two bills, for example, a customer may pay some of their heat charge as part of their rent and other costs such as repairs, as part of their service charge.

Some council and housing association homes do not have separate meters to record how much heat each customer is using, so bills may be a share of heat and hot water used by the whole building.

Private rented sector: For customers that rent from a private landlord, there are some costs that would be borne by the landlord as the owner of the property, such as the cost of installing a replacement boiler or boiler repair and maintenance. These costs may be passed on to the customer in rent.

Due to the variation in billing methods, the Heat Cost Calculator assumes that a single heat bill is provided. Therefore, the Heat Cost Calculator will be most relevant to owner-occupiers that receive a single heat bill from their heat supplier.
The Heat Cost Calculator is a guide, not a bespoke assessment. It is for information purposes only and is not intended to show whether or not your heat price is fair. If you have any concerns about your heat charge, you should contact your supplier directly.
Yes, you can still use the Calculator, but the result will not be accurate as the Calculator will still calculate the annual cost for heating and hot-water for a home using a gas boiler.
Yes. If you do not know how much heat you have used, the Calculator will use an estimate based on the size of your property.
Please choose the one that is the closest match.
For a property with an individual gas boiler, gas is received from the national gas network, which is then used within the property to provide heating and hot water. The costs of servicing the boiler, repairs, insurance and replacement of a boiler are separate additional costs, on top of the gas bill.

For a property on a district heating network, all the costs associated with heating a home are typically within a single heat bill. This includes the cost of the fuel (e.g. gas, biomass), repair, servicing and maintenance costs, and metering and billing costs.

In order to provide a more like-for-like comparison, we take into account boiler replacement, repair and maintenance costs.

All of the quotes used are within two standard deviations away from the mean. This principle is used to remove substantial outliners. The average of the quotes is used by the Calculator.
To make the Calculator as transparent as possible, we have only used publically available data. This allows customers using the Calculator to understand exactly how the calculation is made. Other analysis has used unpublished data which Heat Trust is not able to verify and customers cannot access.
The information you provide and the results that the Calculator produces will be held by Heat Trust. We may, as part of a wider project, share results from the Calculator with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

All data is collected and held in line with the Data Protection Act as set out in our data protection policy.

No personal data is collected by Heat Trust.
Yes. We would welcome feedback on the Heat Cost Calculator via our feedback survey which you can access here.
If you have a problem with the tool, try refreshing the webpage. If this does not work, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FAQs on audits

All audits are undertaken by independent Auditors appointed under contract by Heat Customer Protection Ltd.
All heat networks registered with the Heat Trust Scheme will be audited at least once every five years. An audit can be desk-based or site-based.
An audit can take place earlier if the heat network receives a significant number of complaints. The Scheme Administrator can also request an audit if they believe an audit would be beneficial.
We are currently trialing the audit process we have developed. The purpose of the trials is to allow independent auditors to provide feedback on the process before finalising the audit procedure.
If a heat network fails an audit and the failure is severe, a non-compliance panel will be convened to decide what action should be taken, including if the heat network can remain part of the Heat Trust Scheme.

FAQs on complaints and the Ombudsman service

Heat Trust has an agreement with the Ombudsman Services: Energy (the Energy Ombudsman) that ensures customers on heat networks registered with Heat Trust can refer their complaint to the Energy Ombudsman if they are unhappy with how their heat supplier has managed their complaint.

Ombudsman Services is an independent organisation and an accredited Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider. They are also the Ombudsman for the gas and electricity market. Read more information on the Energy Ombudsman.
Registered Participants of Heat Trust are required to have in place a complaints procedure which they must make available to customers. Your heat supplier is required to tell you:
• how to contact the heat supplier with a complaint;
• the information required to register a complaint;
• the steps the heat supplier will take to resolve the complaint and an indicative timescale; and
• next steps if a resolution cannot be agreed, including how to access the Energy Ombudsman
The Heat Trust has also produced a customer information sheet on how to make a complaint to your supplier and how to access the Energy Ombudsman.
The independent complaints handling service is provided by the Energy Ombudsman through an agreement with the Heat Trust. In this agreement, the Energy Ombudsman will investigate complaints from customers on heat networks registered with the Heat Trust.

Complaints are investigated in line with the Energy Ombudsman’s Terms of Reference.

The Energy Ombudsman is a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider and is the same Ombudsman used in the gas and electricity market.
To complain to the Ombudsman you must contact them directly
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 0330 440 1624
Fax: 0330 440 1625
Textphone: 0330 440 1600
Website : www.ombudsman-services.org/complain-now-energy.html
Ombudsman Services: Energy
PO Box 966
Warrington
WA4 9DF
You will be asked to provide details of your complaint and they will determine whether or not your complaint is ready to be investigated.
The Ombudsman has the power to investigate complaints where the supplier has:
• failed to comply with their obligations under the Heat Trust Scheme, for example billing errors;
• treated you unfairly in relation to other customers in similar circumstances;
• been discourteous or unprofessional towards you;
• unreasonably delayed or failed to take action in its dealings with you;
• given you wrong or misleading information.
In order to be eligible to bring a complaint against a supplier you must have been, at the time the subject matter of the Complaint arose:
• a heat customer with a valid and effective supply agreement with the supplier,
• connected to the Heat Network of the supplier (or would have been so but for an act or omission of the supplier); and
• a customer of a heat network that is registered with the Heat Trust Scheme.
For further information please review the Ombudsman Terms of Reference available here
The Ombudsman will not investigate complaints which relate to:

• commercial decisions made by an energy company about whether to provide a product or service or the terms under which they may be provided. For example, the Ombudsman cannot help with price increases;
• issues which are considered to be malicious or unjustified;
• problems that are being dealt with by the courts;
• historic problems which are outside of the Ombudsman time limits. These include complaints about matters which you were aware of before the date when your supplier joined the Heat Trust Scheme.
For further information please review the Ombudsman Terms of Reference available here
You will not be charged for this service. All costs will be recovered from your heat supplier.
Some cases are complex and the investigation may be lengthy, while others are simple and are dealt with quickly. As a guide, the average complaint takes about six to twelve weeks to be resolved.
Yes. Someone else can complain as long you send written authorisation to the Ombudsman. Anyone may act on your behalf, for example it may be a member of your family, a friend, a solicitor or a volunteer from a body like the Citizens Advice Bureau. Where a representative is nominated the Ombudsman will communicate with the representative as if they were you.
The Ombudsman will make a decision they believe to be just and fair, taking all the circumstances into consideration. The Ombudsman will then write to all parties concerned with their decision and any award/remedy. The Ombudsman will explain their reasons for making the decision and set out timescales within which a remedy/award is due.
If you accept the Ombudsman’s decision it will become binding on your heat supplier. If you do not reply to the decision within the specified period or choose not to accept the Ombudsman’s decision then the decision will not be binding on your supplier.
For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in the Heat Trust Scheme shall limit your right to take proceedings against your supplier in the courts of England and Wales, should the Ombudsman’s Decision not be binding on the heat supplier.
If it is determined that your heat supplier has made a mistake or treated you unfairly, a remedy or award will be made. The award or remedy will seek to put you to the position you would have been in had the mistake not occurred.
Ombudsman Services may undertake one or more of the following resolutions
a. an apology;
b. an explanation of what went wrong;
c. a practical action to correct the problem; or
d. a financial award of up to £10,000 (inclusive of VAT).
No award or remedy will be made against you.
The Ombudsman will always try to achieve a resolution which is acceptable to both sides, taking account of all available evidence. If, after a resolution is proposed, either party feels that there is an error in fact or has new evidence which was not previously available, it may be submitted to the Ombudsman for review. The Ombudsman will then check to see if the outcome is affected by this new information. A final binding decision will then be issued.
If you are part of a Heat Trust registered scheme and you are unhappy with the way in which your complaint has been dealt with by your supplier you can refer your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. You must do this within 12 months of the date you first gave notice of your complaint to your supplier. The Ombudsman has discretion, however, to accept a complaint made outside of these time limits if satisfied that there are exceptional reasons to justify the delay.
Your heating supplier should issue you with a written communication, known as a Deadlock Letter, within eight weeks of you initially registering your complaint. This letter sets out your supplier’s final position on the complaint. If you have not been issued with this letter after 8 weeks, you can refer your complaint to the Ombudsman.
The Heat Trust Scheme uses an independent complaints handling service provided by the Energy Ombudsman. This service has the power to both investigate complaints and enforce decisions resulting from an investigation. We believe it is important for this investigation service to be independent of Heat Trust.
When a heat supplier registers with the Heat Trust Scheme, they are required to sign a contract with the Energy Ombudsman. This contract is known as a Deed-Poll and is enforceable in court, by the customer or the Ombudsman, in relation to any decision the Ombudsman makes (provided that the customer accepts the Ombudsman’s decision).
Customers should apply directly to the Ombudsman. As with gas and electricity suppliers, we require heat suppliers to respond to complaints within eight weeks of when the complaint was made. If after eight weeks the complaint is not resolved or the customer remains unhappy they can refer their complaint directly to the independent Energy Ombudsman. The Energy Ombudsman can investigate complaints from customers who are served by a heat network that is registered with Heat Trust.

The Heat Trust does not have the legal authority to regulate, advise or comment on pricing. Under its general competition powers the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has the ability to investigate areas relevant to its competition, markets, and consumer functions. More information about the CMA can be found on their website here: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/competition-and-markets-authority/about.

We believe that all stakeholders in the sector benefit from increased transparency so have developed the Heat Cost Calculator. The Heat Cost Calculator provides a general indication of what you could expect to pay for heating and hot water in a similar sized property that used an individual gas boiler. It has been created for information purposes only and does not provide a bespoke assessment.