Community heating specialist Switch2 Energy has published a free non-technical checklist and guide to help housing managers improve the heat network performance and bring down costs for residents.
“Older communal heating systems may not have been designed, commissioned and implemented to modern standards,” said Steve Coates, Head of Heat Networks for Switch2 Energy. “Our checklist is designed for use by housing managers with limited or no technical knowledge. It will enable them to conduct a simple walk-around site survey and start to discover weak points in system performance.
“This could highlight issues that may be solved simply and inexpensively, such as lack of insulation on pipework, or inadequate temperature control in resident’s homes. The checklist is intended as a starting point, which can be used alongside metering data, to help inform an energy efficiency improvement plan. There may be problems that are more difficult to diagnose and solve, requiring expert advice from heat scheme specialists and building services professionals.”
He continued: “a basic survey would take a look at each area of the network (the plant room, distribution network, heating systems within individual homes). It would include steps such as observing the temperature changes of corridors and the level of insulation on bare pipework, as well as speaking with residents to make sure they understand how to use the system properly.”
The guide explains the key reasons why community heating schemes do not perform optimally, which include:
- Over-sized equipment and pipework, leading to inefficiency
- Inadequate insulation, causing heat loss
- Insufficient measurements and controls in place, which could be due to metering or Building Energy Management System, or both
- Improper commissioning and balancing of heating systems within individual residences
- Turning on and off the heat system
Steve Coates added: “Even small efficiency improvements can make a big difference to heat scheme performance, helping to improve reliability, reduce heating costs for residents, and increase carbon savings. Switch2’s checklist guide is a positive and accessible way to start the process.”
Switch2 Energy provides an end-to-end service to the district and community heating sector – supplying 70,000 residents and 180 clients across 500 heat networks. Services include equipment supply, metering, billing and pay-as-you-go, through to maintenance, energy centre management and customer services. Its systems and products are benchmarked against industry good practice to improve customer service and bring heating costs down for residents.