5 Reasons why District Heating is the more sustainable option

Could District Heating be the right choice for a net zero future?

By Andy Scrimshaw

13 April 2021

As we move out of the cold winter months and towards long summer evenings radiators across the country are being turned off. But what if we could say goodbye to our boilers, and those high winter heating bills, once and for all?

With district heating, this is a possibility. Across the country, these new heating systems are offering a low cost, low emission alternative to the traditional boiler and water tank.

With the road to net zero laid out ahead of us, the UK government have been looking at every aspect of our energy use. While we have made great progress on lowering emissions and improving our recycling, there’s still some work to be done. Starting with how we heat our homes and businesses.

Heating our home accounts for half of all our energy use and a third of all carbon emissions. Each year a boiler can release 2.75 tonnes of CO2. That is the equivalent of driving over 11,000 miles or 11 round trip flights to Rome. Improving our insulation and installing smart heaters has started to bring these numbers down. But they can only do so much.

While large areas of Europe have already made the switch to local heat networks, the UK is only now starting to catch up. Yet this is not our first experience with district heating. In the 1960s a range of networks were installed in high rise buildings. But with low gas prices, and no net zero deadline to worry about, they didn’t catch on.

Fast forward to today and district heating is finally taking off. A simple, centralised system combined with a better set of government guidelines, is cheap to run and far more sustainable than most homes’ systems. At Welcome Energy, we have more than 30 years of experience in billing communal and district heat networks and their utilities and financial account management. This means we are very familiar with both the unique challenges and the many benefits our district heating customers face. Here are just a few of those benefits.

1 Lower carbon emissions

Switching to district heating has helped some buildings lower carbon emissions by 75%. Removing all the individual boilers in a building also makes tracking emissions easier. Not to mention, it is a lot easier to capture CO2 released from a single boiler setup.

2 Cheaper heating costs

District heaters use less fuel to heat a greater quantity of water than individual boilers. Using the economy of scale to keep heating costs low isn’t only great for the environment, it is also far easier on your pocket. Properties connected to a heat network save on average 25% on heating bills. With a typical heating bill of £800, this could mean savings of over £200 a year per household.

3 Less reliant on gas

Our current gas usage isn’t sustainable. The government’s Committee on Climate Change has recommended that after 2025 new houses should not be connected to the national gas grid. Fortunately, district heating offers a solution. Most of the current district systems are powered by gas but they use it far more efficiently. This reduces our overall dependency and helps protect against the threat of price fluctuations. There is also a reduced risk of gas leaks to consider. By removing the need for the miles of gas pipes needed to supply individual boilers the chance of a harmful leak is very slim.

4 Dependable heat supply

Studies have shown that most people believe reliability is more important than cost when it comes to picking a heating system. Anyone who has had their boiler struggle to supply enough hot water knows what a pain it can be. District heating systems provide a larger, more reliable supply of hot water and heating.

If there is a problem with the network it is also easier to find and fix when there is only one boiler to worry about. As each household only has a simple interface instead of a complicated heater it also helps cut down on maintenance issues.

5 Bigger system, more possibilities

Unlike individual systems where each household chooses from a list of energy and gas suppliers, district networks have access to a greater range of options. Some of the UK networks have their own onsite generation from solar and wind. Whilst others use low-cost energy from local combined heat and power (CHP) plants.

There are even networks that have cut their carbon use to the absolute minimum by using waste heat. The heat network at King’s Cross in London supplies space and water heating to over 800 nearby apartments. Each passenger passing through the station releases over 100 watts of energy in body heat. Add to this all the trains and electrical equipment and you end up with very high temperatures. A new system of vents and fans pipe this heat into the station’s boilers and has helped cut their emissions by 50%. The Paris Metro intend to do something similar in the next few years. And with increased government funding, new schemes are on the way across the world.

The future of heating

To meet net zero goals the government has begun a funding program, the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP). They have promised to provide £320 million to heat network projects across England and Wales. This scheme is open to the public and the private sector and offers grants and loans to get new projects off the ground. The aim is to increase the number of new networks in the UK and build a sustainable low emission heating network.

At Welcome Energy, our team of account managers stay ahead of the curve when it comes to heating technology. Heat networks have their own set of rules and regulations, and we can help make sure you stay up to speed on anything you need to know.

We also make sure all your billing and metering is simple, transparent, and provides the best service possible to you and your tenants.

From energy saving advice to a fully managed service, we can make heating your property as easy and stress-free as possible. To learn more about how we can help with your property or business heating needs get in touch today.

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How can we help?

Welcome Energy was created to meet the dire need for a transparent, stress-free and value for money metering and billing solution. Our team brings together over 30 years of experience in the billing of communal and district heat networks and their utilities and financial account management.

We have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to heating efficiency and transparency. And we want to help our clients find opportunities in the evolving heating landscape.

To learn more about what Welcome Energy can do for your business or property, get in touch today.