The latest public attitudes tracker report by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) had a particular focus on heat.

It found that in relation to heat networks:

  • Just under three in ten (28%) had heard of heat networks in December 2020. 
  • Of those who were aware of heat networks, six in ten (60%) said they would be likely to join one if given the opportunity. This equated to 17% of all people. Over half (54%) of those that were aware of heat networks were also positive about them.

On heat usage in the home:

  • In December 2020, three quarters of people (75%) said they paid either a lot (24%) or a fair amount (51%) of attention to the amount of heat they used in their home. One in five (21%) said they did not pay very much attention to this, and 3% said they pay no attention to it at all. 
  • The most common reason given for paying attention to the amount of heat used in the home was to minimise the amount of money spent on heat (46%). 
  • The most common reason given for not paying attention to the amount of heat used in the home was because people wanted to use as much heat as needed to be comfortable (49%).

And on replacing heating systems:

  • People said they would mainly change their heating system to save money on bills (45%) but over a third (35%) said they would do this to switch to a more environmentally friendly heating system.

Heat Trust has today written to signatories of the ADE Consumer Agreement expressing concern at the latest set of monitoring data, released last week.  In particular, Heat Trust is concerned at rising numbers of disconnections from some suppliers during the coldest part of the year, low reconnection rates and declining levels of support given to pre-payment meter customers.  Heat Trust is also concerned at failures of some suppliers to keep to the terms of the Agreement and report on their activities.  See our open letter here.

The Heat Trust Board met on 28th January 2021 and unanimously approved Modification Proposals 006, 007, 008, 009 and 010. The full report for each can be found on our Scheme Modifications section of our website. 

This will improve customer protection standards, particularly for heat network customers in vulnerable situations, and is part of an ongoing process to continue enhancing these standards.

The Scheme Administrator will now work with its Registered Participants to take the steps set out under each proposal to implement them. The Scheme Rules have been updated accordingly.

In November 2020 Heat Trust consulted on a review of the Scheme Rules relating to metering, billing and Guaranteed Service Payments (GSP). The service standards which participating companies, known as Registered Participants, agree to abide by are set out in Heat Trust’s Scheme Rules. A systematic review of these standards began with those relating to customers in vulnerable situations in 2019, and is now reviewing the next two sections.

Metering and billing are the key points of interaction for most customers with their heat supplier. Customer billing and charges has consistently been one of the top complaint categories over the last three years. When things go wrong or if service is below the guaranteed standard set out in the Heat Trust Scheme, customers may be entitled to compensation, known as Guaranteed Service Payments (GSP).

The responses to the latest consultation have now been summarised and next steps proposed in this report. These will be discussed with the Heat Trust's Stakeholder Committee, which may recommend some changes are put forward as proposals for modification of the standards. 

Guidance

ChargesStanding Charges

A summary of Heat Trust's requirements and best practice suggestions for breaking down standing charges so customers can more easily understand them can be found here.

ComplaintPre-contractual transparency

A collection of best practice actions to ensure customers are able to see the key terms and conditions of heat supply before moving in, also known as pre-contractual transparency, can be found here.

 

CovidCovid

The heat networks industry, with the help of BEIS, collectively produced some guidance on managing heat networks during COVID-19, aiming to help owners/operators of heat networks to anticipate and seek support in the event of difficulties. It can be found at this link.

 

Template contracts

ContractCustomer Charter

See here for Heat Trust's guide to information that should be included in a customer charter. For heat networks, a Customer Charter may be used where it is not possible to have a separate Heat Supply Agreement between the supplier and customer about their Heat Energy Supply.

ContractResidential Supply Agreement

Clean energy law firm Lux Nova Partners, a member of the Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management consortium, has drafted a suite of template heat contracts for use by anyone involved in a district heating scheme. They were commissioned by BEIS and developed through consultation. 

The template Residential Supply Agreement might be of particular interest to prospective members of Heat Trust. It was designed to be compliant with the Heat Trust Scheme Rules.

If intending to use the RSA template, you would need the following additional information to in order to apply for membership with Heat Trust (with the relevant Scheme Rule in brackets):

  • statement of flow temperature (Section 6.1)
  • Guaranteed Service Payments for interruptions that match our Scheme Rules (Section 6.3)
  • information on Heat Trust, up to date heat tariffs and higlights of the key terms and conditions of the heat supply, to be available for prospective customers (Section 8.1)
  • how to read a meter and submit a reading, and how customers can view their consumption (Sections 8.2 and 9.3)
  • how to operate their pre-payment meter, if applicable, including emergency credit (Sections 9.5 and 16.2)
  • how often the meter and HIU will be inspected (Sections 9.7 and 10)
  • contingency and maintenance plans (Section 11)
  • process for supporting both customers in need of additional support AND customers in vulnerable situations (Sections 13 and 14)
  • bills that include information on where to find advice or answers to queries (Section 15.6)
  • procedure for complaints (Section 17)
  • privacy policy (Section 21)

Please get in contact if you have any questions or would like further advice.