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District heating in 2021
and beyond

What is on the horizon for district heating, and how can property managers prepare?

By Evelyn Chapman

5 February 2021

After a difficult year, there is little certainty of what 2021 will bring. But as the UK races to roll out Covid-19 vaccines, and plans are put in place for a green recovery, there is hope on the horizon.

But while many are dreaming of a return to normal, the government has other plans for the energy sector. With the UK’s sights set on a net zero future, they’ve promised a green energy revolution. This will mean momentous change across the energy landscape, including heating. And we at Welcome Energy are here to help you navigate and make the most of this transition.

Heating and the race to net zero

In 2019, parliament passed legislation requiring the government to make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter by 2050. This means reducing our net greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 100% relative to the 1990 levels.

Reaching net zero GHG emissions requires extensive change across the UK economy, behind which energy will be the driving force. And considering heating contributes around 37% of total UK carbon emissions, the heating sector could face serious modification over the next decade.

Amended Heat Network Regulations

On November 27th, 2020 the long-awaited changes to the Heat Network Regulations came into effect. These amended regulations aim to incentivise energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. And while some industry leaders feel the changes fall short of what we need, they do prove a shift in focus towards clean, green, and transparent practices.

What does this mean for customers?

What will this apparent shift in values mean for the future of district heating? We are hopeful that this is just a taste of the many industry-wide initiatives to come. And we look forward to a leaner and greener future for our customers.

Here are a few changes heating customers can expect in 2021 and beyond.

More metering

The amended heating regulations need point of entry meters for all communal heat schemes. These record the heat delivered to properties from the plant or energy centre.

Final customer meters must also be installed and serviced regularly.

The regulations say that if installing meters is not a viable option, heat cost allocators can be considered. But this will change over time as metering technology and buildings evolve and adapt to meet decarbonisation efforts. Eventually, it is predicted that all heat networks will have to be fully metered.

Our comprehensive metering services at Welcome Energy help to make sure our clients have the right heat metering system for their property or business. Then we provide monitoring, insight and guidance based on real-time findings. This helps our clients stay ahead in a rapidly changing market.

More transparency

More metering is one of the many adjustments that will lead to a greater level of transparency, along with improved billing practices.

The amended regulations say that end customers must receive accurate billing based on actual consumption at least once a year. This means billing will be based on meter readings rather than estimates.

The bills must contain:

  • a breakdown of the cost,
  • current energy prices,
  • details of total consumption compared to the previous years (when available), and
  • information on how to improve energy efficiency moving forward.

We at Welcome Energy utilise remote monitoring and data collection software to provide accurate, timely billing services to all residential and commercial tenants. Providing our clients with transparency in line with the latest regulations.

Higher efficiency

Energy efficiency is expected to be a major part of the government’s net zero plans. Not only are buildings a large contributor of carbon emissions, but improving energy efficiency can also significantly reduce fluctuation in cost across the board.

In 2021 we expect to see a stronger push for energy efficiency, with a focus on smarter metering and data-driven energy management. This will be a huge help for businesses beginning their post-Covid recovery.

We at Welcome Energy treat energy efficiency as a systemic challenge and offer a holistic and bespoke approach to our clients. Our dedicated Account Managers conduct monthly system performance reviews, give plant room performance advice and provide fuel procurement at a very competitive rate. We also give residents ongoing advice on savings. Making sure energy efficiency is a part of every link in the property’s chain.

Fairer pricing

With more metering and more transparent billing will hopefully come fairer pricing. This can be more of a certainty for customers who prioritise energy efficiency.

In 2021 there is also expected to be more forgiveness when it comes to late or missed payments. Energy regulator Ofgem recently introduced new rules to help vulnerable customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills this winter.

Our internal credit control team helps to ease the stress by managing late or missed payments. We issue bespoke late/non-payment letters to residents when their account goes 21 days overdue. If after 7 days there has been no response, we will automatically issue a further letter. Collection letters are pre-approved with our clients and managed in line with their policies and procedures. We will also manage any debt and payment plans for our clients. Which are then documented and reported on in our monthly audit report.

Better customer service

Another trend predicted to rise from the wreckage of Covid-19 is a focus on empathy and a shift in the dynamic between supplier and consumer. As we move into a time of healing and recovery, patience, understanding and excellent customer service will be a hot commodity.

Fortunately, our team couldn’t be friendlier or more helpful. We know it’s been a tough year, and we are here to help our clients in any way we can be.

“We’ve dealt with numerous billing agencies and Welcome Energy are the best by a big margin. Their customer service is second to none, their knowledge and problem-solving skills have been absolutely essential in dealing with issues that we have inherited from customers. I cannot recommend them highly enough.”
Richard Delaney, Director at Haus Block Management
person on the phone in an office

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.