Following an article on district heating on Radio 5 Live, Heat Trust has made the following statement. 

“Heat Trust is a voluntary scheme that sets the standards for high quality customer service and protection for people living on district heating schemes. Customers on heat networks registered with Heat Trust can refer complaints about their supplier to the Energy Ombudsman in the same way as electricity and gas customers.  It is vital that issues raised by customers are addressed proactively and swiftly. We encourage customers with complaints that are unresolved after eight weeks and are on heat networks that are registered to Heat Trust, to contact the Energy Ombudsman who can investigate their complaint thoroughly and independently.

“The Scheme’s customer service standards are set by an independent committee, with representatives from consumer bodies, local authorities, housing associations, Scottish and UK governments and heat suppliers. We believe all heat networks should be required to meet the service standards set out by the Heat Trust, and this should be a condition of receiving any government funding.”

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District heating and customer protection


Your home or business gets its heating and hot water from a district heating network (also known as a heat network or communal heating).

This page gives an explanation of district heating, provides information on Heat Trust, and what to do if you have a complaint about your heat supplier.

What is district heating?

dh network infographic

On a district heating network, heating and hot water from a local energy centre is delivered to homes and businesses through a network of insulated pipes. On a communal heating network the energy centre is within the same building that uses the heat, whereas district heating generally distributes to more than one building. Both are types of heat networks.

The key difference between heat networks and a conventional heating system is that there is no need to have a separate boiler in each home. Repairs and maintenance of the local energy centre are also taken care of by the heat energy supplier.

Heat networks can operate with a range of fuel sources including gas, renewable heat (e.g. biomass) and even waste heat (e.g. from a factory).

Using a heat network to heat homes can lower costs and also lower carbon emissions.

Modern heat networks are fitted with heat interface units (HIU) and heating controls, so that each customer has as much control as they would experience with an individual boiler.

Read more about district heating at the Association for Decentralised Energy

ch network infographic

What is Heat Trust and what does Heat Trust do?

Heat Trust is an independent customer protection scheme for residential and micro-business customers.

Heat Trust has developed rules that set a common standard in the quality and level of customer service expected from heat energy suppliers. It also provides an independent process for settling complaints between customers and their heat supplier.

The standards of service have been designed to be comparable to those required by electricity and gas suppliers. Areas covered by Heat Trust include: support for vulnerable heat customers and customers that need extra support; procedures for reporting and responding to a fault or emergency; metering and billing, debt management and complaint handling.

How does Heat Trust work?

Heat energy suppliers need to apply to Heat Trust in order to register the heat networks that they manage.

Heat energy suppliers that become members of Heat Trust make a commitment to follow and abide by the rules and requirements set by Heat Trust. They will be monitored by Heat Trust to ensure they are meeting the Scheme’s standards.

Once a heat network has been successfully registered with Heat Trust, customers on that network will benefit from the Scheme’s standards.

Which heat networks are registered with Heat Trust?

Heat Trust is a voluntary scheme. To find out which heat networks are registered with Heat Trust, please see the Registered Sites section.

What do I do if I have a complaint about my supplier?

If you have a complaint about your supplier, the first step is to contact your supplier and explain your complaint.

Contact details for your supplier will be on your bill. Heat Trust has sets rules which require its members to have a clear process to manage complaints. We expect suppliers to resolve complaints within eight weeks.

How to make a complaint.

What if I am not happy with my supplier’s response to my complaint?

If you are not happy with your supplier’s final offer to resolve your complaint or it has been over eight weeks since you made your complaint, you can ask the Energy Ombudsman to investigate. This service is free to customers. 

Heat Trust has put this service in place with Ombudsman Services. They have expertise in dealing with customer complaints and will investigate complaints fairly, by listening to both sides of the story and looking at the facts. They will then decide what action, if any, should be taken.

Please note that Heat Trust itself is not able to investigate complaints or make enquiries on behalf of individuals. Heat Trust set standards that require its members to have a robust complaints process and provide their customers access to the independent Ombudsman service.  Read our complaints FAQs.

Does Heat Trust monitor its members?

Yes, we require heat suppliers that have registered heat networks with Heat Trust to submit reports on performance twice a year. Heat Trust also receives regular feedback from the Energy Ombudsman.

We require each heat network that is registered with Heat Trust to undergo an independent audit at least every five years. Heat Trust can order an audit to take place earlier if reporting shows a significant number of complaints over the previous year, or if the Scheme Administrator feels an audit would help improve the service to customers. Read our audit FAQs.

Heat Cost Calculator

Heat Trust has developed a Heat Cost Calculator to provide customers living on heat networks with an indication of what it would cost to heat a similar sized property using an individual gas boiler.

The Heat Cost Calculator is for information purposes only.

It is most applicable to new build properties that have a heat meter. The results are indicative only and will not provide a like-for-like comparison to your particular situation.

 

Download our factsheet

Download our key standards information sheet

Important information for parties considering installation of district heating and the use of the Heat Cost Calculator by potential contractors

 

This note is written for the avoidance of doubt on the part of contracting authorities and suppliers of District Energy, about the role and purpose of the Heat Cost Calculator (‘HCC’).

The HCC is not intended for use by parties bidding for installation. It is not an authoritative statement of the prices of alternative methods of heating and should not be portrayed or otherwise be used as such.

On the contrary, as set out on the website itself and in accompanying documentation for consumers, it is at best an estimate for the use of consumers, based on certain specific assumptions, based (ideally) on their actual usage, and with an accuracy that will necessarily vary depending on the specific nature of the property concerned and use of heat by occupants.

In light of that, the Heat Customer Protection Ltd would caution both suppliers of district heating and bodies considering procuring district heating, against any reliance on the HCC in the decision making process.

In considering the use of district heating against other solutions, it is naturally important that the right decision is reached, both as to whether district heating is the best solution and, if so, which supplier offers the best solution. Any use of the HCC, as with alternatives (such as energy switching sites which may provide indicative quotes for energy alone) should be critically scrutinised.

Whilst ultimately a matter for the contracting authority (other than where public authorities are caught by public procurement Regulations), this is likely to be best achieved by conducting an open and effective bidding exercise, with at least the following features:

  • Several bidders should be invited, including more than one bidder offering district heating;
  • The alternatives should be independently and critically assessed by the contracting authority;
  • Specifically, the use of ‘generic’ data should be critically examined. For instance, if the purported anticipated costs of energy are based on the HCC (which is not the purpose of the Calculator and may lead to inaccurate results), a switching site, or any other source, the assumptions should be tested against the specifications of the building stock in question and the contracting party’s own assessments of anticipated use.

Should examples of inappropriate use of the HCC (for instance, a suggestion that it is an effective ‘benchmark’) by providers of district heating be observed we would ask that this be brought to our attention by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Finally, as stated in the ‘Further information document’, the assumptions used in the Heat Cost Calculator will be reviewed at least once a year, which may lead to revisions in the background assumptions used in the Heat Cost Calculator. All updates will be published in the ‘Further information document’ and changes will be highlighted.

We retain the right to update this notice.

March 2017

6th February 2017

Following an article in The Observer on district heating and customer service, the Heat Trust has issued the following statement:

“At Heat Trust, we believe that value for customers and trust in the sector must be built on a foundation of basic customer protection: clear quality of service, strong minimum standards, and an independent way to settle disputes.

Heat Trust has established a consistent set of service standards that we believe all heat suppliers should provide their customers, and puts in place access to an independent Ombudsman to hold suppliers to account if they fail to deliver those standards.

The Heat Trust Scheme is stakeholder-led, with an independent Committee that is responsible for ensuring the standards set by the Scheme are robust. As Heat Trust moves into our second year we remain committed to working with all stakeholders to help build and grow a fairer, more transparent market for all customers of heat networks.”

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 11th November 2016

Today Heat Trust welcomes Switch2 Energy Limited and its Grafton Square heat network in to membership, extending independent customer protection to 45 heat networks and 27,500 customers.

Bindi Patel, Head of Scheme at Heat Trust said:

“We are delighted that Switch2 Energy Limited has chosen to register its ESCO sites with Heat Trust.

By registering with Heat Trust, Switch2 Energy Limited joins a growing number of ESCO providers that recognise the importance of customer protection and sector-wide standards to provide assurance to customers on the quality of service they can expect from their Heat Supplier.”

Fiona MacDonald, Head of Customer Service at Switch-2 said:

Switch2 Energy Limited is delighted to be registering our ESCO sites with the Heat Trust. We are a strong supporter of all aspects of the Heat Trust and what it stands for; introducing standards of service to the industry and giving customers a higher degree of protection. As a customer focused organisation, we welcome this as an opportunity to continuously strive to improve our service and introduce new initiatives to enhance all aspects of our customer service.”

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