We address the common challenges accompanying heat networks with tenant billing and the solutions that Welcome Energy offers for each of them.
Better tenant billing for all
A 2019 Heat Trust study, which surveyed 13 registered heat network participants, revealed some troubling data concerning user experience. According to the report, the two primary sources of customer complaint were billing and technical problems which represented 37% and 36% of all complaints respectively.
The causes for billing complaints are most often tied to customer confidence in billing accuracy. The reasons for this require a holistic perspective to ensure that tenant billing as a whole can run smoothly.
Technical issues, meanwhile, are influenced by a variety of factors such as human oversight or faulty equipment. By the same token, they also demand a systems thinking view of potential problems and how they interrelate to ensure a lasting solution.
Given the historic nature of many sites possessing heat networks, demystifying their use can be a nightmare. More property developers are looking to district heating to improve sustainable credibility, making these issues more widespread. As such, we offer a comprehensive metering and billing service with several ancillary options to combat peripheral issues that often accompany heat network use.
Upcycling your metering
While new sites are not subject to the weight of time, older heat networks can often include a host of challenges. Chief among these is aged equipment, which can often lead to power outages and expensive customer compensation.
The headache of power outages doesn’t only affect direct customer wellbeing either, they can also have a knock-on effect on billing due to their effect on customer confidence regarding accurate usage metering.
We conduct a full site survey, free of charge, before entering into any new contracts. This initial data acquisition allows us to identify and anticipate future hardware issues before they become a problem.
Winning tenant confidence
Addressing the primary source of participant complaints, timely payment of bills can be very difficult to achieve – particularly across large and complex sites. The most common reason being tenants disputing their bills due to disagreements about usage level estimates. Unfortunately, while a site relies on sporadic metering, there will always be room for this kind of debate. Largely because they remain subject to human error and cannot respond dynamically to changing usage.
In fact, the 2019 Heat Trust report showed that, on average, 26.3% of customers did not pay by their due date. Over a quarter of bills not being paid on time is simply unacceptable.
However, we appreciate that a full AMR set-up may not be financially viable. As an alternative to that option, we also offer a package that is customer led. Using this set-up allows customers to file their own quarterly usage reports. Subsequently removing the responsibility from property managers as well as any risk of dispute.
Addressing tenant billing inconsistency
Unreliability within heat networks can be pervasive and damaging, to customer confidence in billing accuracy but also in effective record keeping. Our in-house engineers ensure that networks stay running and actively work to identify and anticipate potential future weaknesses.
Heat networks, particularly those on older sites, can carry with them a negative heritage. The two most common causes of heartache for well-intentioned property managers are historic debt and geriatric equipment.
While we are unable to resolve outstanding debt in a legal context, Welcome Energy can oversee correspondence with previous property managers to hasten the resolution process which is not a standard service among all bill providers.
We also repair or replace components wherever possible in order to cut cost to our clients and due to the universality of district heating equipment this is usually a viable solution.
A third challenge that we have often encountered is inadequate funding collection to cover plant-room running costs. Incorrectly set unit rates, which do not reflect these costs, are the primary cause of this challenge. We will conduct a free tariff check covered under your regular annual billing to rectify this.
Welcome Energy is committed to providing a user-focused experience. This is why we try to use pre-existing equipment where possible and always provide an initial site survey free of charge. However, we additionally offer a level of versatility and control that is difficult to find among our competitors.
To support your financial decisions, we guarantee delivery of monthly billing reports alongside your cash returns. We believe that delays in payment from a billing provider are no less problematic than those from disputed bills. This allows us to track potential challenges down the road such as inconsistent usage levels, providing greater economic stability.
We can also provide sub-metering for cold water, and electricity and gas billing. Guidance on regulatory compliance is additionally available as a separate service and is complimentary if you already enjoy a pre-existing contract with us.
A full breakdown of each of these services is available at our website, if you have a specific query you can email us.