How public housing can use communal energy to its advantage

How can you take advantage of communal heat?

By Sophie Wyatt

 14th April 2022

UK housing accounts for more than 40% of the country’s carbon emissions. As the country’s ambitious net zero targets grow ever closer, it is essential that changes are made to reduce waste, cut costs and increase efficiency. This is where communal energy comes in.

A communal energy and heating systems helps to heat a number of homes from a centralised source. This type of heating system uses significantly less energy, compared to individual boilers in each home. With this combination of a more efficient source and renewable energy, carbon emissions can be greatly reduced.

So, how can social housing benefit from communal energy?

Increased efficiency 

Also referred to as Combined Heat and Power (CHP), communal heating systems make us of heat in the most efficient and effective ways. Conventional heating systems, on the other hand, tend to waste large amounts of energy and heat as they burn fuel.

By generating heat and power simultaneously, CHP systems can reduce carbon emissions significantly. Sometimes by up to 30%, compared with conventional heat generation via a boiler and power station. This enhanced efficiency could also lead to a reduction in your environmental impact.

This enhanced efficiency could also mean that councils and housing associations are able to deliver more affordable warmth to tenants. For example, Leeds City Council recently joined up with engineering consultancy firm Sweco to deliver city-wide district heating – and many housing associations are now following suit. Accurate metering can ensure that tenant billing is fair and proportionate.

As the world focuses on reaching a sustainable future, it is essential that countries, businesses and individuals make significant changes. This means factoring in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) into future business strategies. Agreeing to ESG standards means a business must conduct themselves ethically. This includes finding the most sustainable and efficient ways of obtaining energy – through practices such as communal energy.

Cuts down on costs 

An on-site CHP installation will typically generate electricity from natural gas at a cheaper rate than procurement from the grid. This is because (notwithstanding the current energy crisis) wholesale gas prices tend to be lower than supplier prices.

To maximise the overall efficiency of CHP systems and ensure the availability of power at all times, businesses often use both options: self-generated and grid electricity supplies. This gives business owners the flexibility to draw on grid power when it is cheapest, and to use their self-generated power at peak times. This means that they can avoid purchasing network power during the most expensive hours, such as during ‘triad’ periods (when prices are vastly inflated).

This reduction in costs will be reflected in your tenant billing, in turn helping tenants to avoid fuel poverty.

Energy security

As the price of fossil fuels continues to rise at an alarming rate, finding more sustainable routes to obtaining energy is vital. Communal heating systems allow business owners the chance to reduce unnecessary waste and costs, while increasing energy security.

Switching to more sustainable energy resources reduces the uncertainty of fossil fuel availability and fluctuating prices. In the midst of a turbulent energy market, it can be hard to determine which route is best to take – especially in the public housing sector, which is so energy reliant. Rather than worrying about individual energy for a boiler in each flat, having a central source of energy can cut out costs, waste and general inefficiency.

Having an awareness of specific energy usage can also help business owners to comply with government legislation on energy efficiency. Understanding exactly where the energy is coming from and how it is being shared allows for an efficient and sustainable practice – which could help business owners avoid costly fines.

How can we help?

At Welcome Energy, we understand the need for transparency. That’s why we are on hand to offer our clients a stress-free, affordable range of services. Our team brings together over 30 years of experience in the billing of communal and district heat networks.

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.