The audit process allows Heat Trust to monitor a Registered Participant’s compliance with the Heat Trust Scheme, and assess the impact and effectiveness of the Scheme Rules and Scheme Bye-Laws.

Registered Sites will be audited once every five years, unless risk factors for consumer detriment are identified, in which case audits will be conducted more frequently.

Audits are conducted through independent auditors. 

The audits assess both the information and the level of service provided by the Supplier, checking against key standards of the Heat Trust Scheme.

Guidelines have been prepared for Registered Participants to explain the steps involved in an audit, the scoring system and the possible outcomes. A high-level overview of the evidence sought in our audits can be found in Appendix 1 of the Audit Guidelines for Registered Participants, see below. These Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Scheme Rules and Scheme Bye-Laws.

Click here to access the full Audit Guidelines for Registered Participants document

Energy is an essential service; it is important that customers can be guaranteed a minimum level of service and protection. In 2019, government confirmed that it will introduce new statutory regulation for the entire heat network market. While regulation is being developed, government has strongly encouraged the market to take early action to prepare for regulation, highlighting the work of Heat Trust.

Heat Trust is uniquely positioned to support all heat network suppliers as they support the transition to a low carbon energy system. Our work supports heat suppliers to ensure they are well positioned as new regulations are developed. Heat Trust's standards can apply to any heat energy suppliers who contract with domestic and micro-business properties, metered or unmetered, where the heat customer pays their supplier directly for their heat energy. To find out more about how Heat Trust can support heat suppliers and about joining Heat Trust, please click here

The customer service and customer protection standards set by Heat Trust are comparable to the quality and performance standards for regulated utilities (such as gas and electricity) and draw on existing regulations and industry best practice. When a heat suppliers registers their heat network(s) with Heat Trust, they agree to abide by the Scheme Rules and Bye-Laws.

We also work with our members to help promote best practice, through regular forums, relevant guidance, and highlighting any trends we see in the monitoring data they return.

Customer Timeline

When a heat network is successfully registered with Heat Trust, the customers on the heat network will benefit from the standards set, which are independently verified through regular audits, as well as access to an independent complaint handling service through the Energy Ombudsman. See all sites registered with Heat Trust. 

Heat Trust includes rules on the following:
  • Support for heat customers in vulnerable circumstances
  • Heat supplier obligations
  • Heat customer service and reporting a fault or emergency
  • Process for customers joining and leaving
  • Heat meters
  • Heat Interface Units (HIUs)
  • Heat bill and heat charge calculations
  • Heat bill payment arrangements and the management of arrears and/or debt
  • Suspension and resumptions of service processes
  • Complaint handling and independent complaint handling
  • Privacy policy and data protection

 

 

There are three key areas for which Heat Trust does not have the legal authority to comment or prescribe standards. Heat Trust cannot: 

  • Provide comment or arbitration on pricing
  • Provide guidance on contract length
  • Provide a supplier of last resort

These three issues are being addressed in the Association For Decentralised Energy's Heat Network Task Force Report  and the Competition and Markets Authority's Heat Networks market study.

Heat networks are set to play a key role in meeting carbon reduction targets and helping to create a sustainable energy future. Effective consumer protection is essential to the long-term success of the heat network market. Satisfied customers are the fuel for future growth.

Registration with Heat Trust provides assurance to customers and investors that their heat supplier will meet sector-wide service standards that are comparable to those provided in the rest of the energy market. It also enables an independent process for settling disputes between heat suppliers and their customers.

Please see our factsheet: An overview for heat suppliers for a summary of the key points or watch this video for an introduction to Heat Trust.

By joining Heat Trust, heat suppliers will benefit from a code of conduct that provides:

Reputation management

Heat Trust is here to support all heat network providers. We can share our extensive experience and best practice to enhance customer protection processes you may already have in place to help you do the right thing by your customers.

Customer satisfaction is at the heart of a successful business. Heat Trust membership offers peace of mind to customers that their heat supplier will comply with the Heat Trust Scheme’s sector-wide standards of customer service and protection.

Heat Trust also develops and provides customer-facing information, supporting its members to raise awareness and understanding of heat networks amongst existing and prospective customers. 

All heat networks registered with Heat Trust are independently audited. Heat suppliers will benefit from an external auditor assessing the robustness of its policies and procedures, providing recommendations for improvement and also highlighting best practice. Independent Audits also provide assurance to heat suppliers, investors, procurers and customers that only schemes that remain compliant with the Heat Trust standards can retain their membership.

Competitive edge

By providing clear evidence of your quality standards, Heat Trust accreditation can give you a competitive edge when it comes to winning new contracts or obtaining government funding. And of course, it means less time and resource dealing with customer complaints.

Through meeting a minimum standard of customer service and communications, resulting in more satisfied and informed customers, the numbers of complaints should reduce. However for those complaints which take longer to resolve, Heat Trust makes provision for an Independent Complaint Handling Service. The service provides a means of complaint resolution that is cheaper, faster and more effective than court action.

The service is provided by the Energy Ombudsman and operates in the same way as the service provided to gas and electricity customers.

Heat Trust membership is the only scheme specific to heat networks that can provide assurance to investors and procurers of heat networks, through the trademark, that customers will receive good customer service and will be adequately protected. 
Heat Trust is recognised as the sector standard for customer service and customer protection. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has specified Heat Trust as part of its pre-qualification selection criteria for heat networks seeking public funding from the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP).

The Scottish Government, through its district heating loan fund also require Heat Trust registration to award fund, highlighting the importance of customer protection.

Regulation-ready

The government has made it clear that it intends to regulate the heat network market and encourages providers to register with Heat Trust.

As the leading source of customer care expertise within the industry, we can help you prepare for the regulation ahead and future-proof your business to meet your responsibilities to customers without this being a burden. Get on board to help shape the future regulatory framework and create a sustainable energy network fit for the future that benefits your customers and your business.

All members of Heat Trust can participate in the Members’ Forum. The forum allows members to provide feedback on the Heat Trust Scheme and suggest where modifications and additional guidance documents and support would be beneficial. The forum also provides a route for suppliers to share best practice.

Where appropriate, this will lead to development of specific guidance documents and templates that members will be able to access and use.

The forum is also used to communicate Heat Trust updates and future developments and feedback from the independent Heat Trust Committee.

If you have any feedback on either our members or the Scheme, we would like to hear about it. You can provide us with feedback by returning a feedback questionnaire.

We will treat your feedback in confidence and anonymise any information unless otherwise stated. We will review all feedback received to identify any emerging issues that may need addressing. Feedback will also be used to identify areas for potential development of the Scheme.

If your query concerns a complaint, please see the complaints section of our website.