How housing managers can improve heat network efficiency
Older heat networks may lag behind newer systems when it comes to efficiency, but there are some simple steps that housing managers can take to improve operation and reliability, says Steve Coates, Head of Heat Networks for Switch2 Energy.
By following simple steps outlined in a free non-technical checklist and guide to heat network efficiency, housing managers can help give ageing community and district heating systems a performance boost and reduce heating costs for residents.
“Older heat networks may not match the design and commissioning standards of modern schemes”, said Steve Coates. “But all is not lost: housing managers are well placed to conduct a simple walk-around survey of their heat networks to find out what the weak points of system performance are. By following our checklist, little or no technical knowledge is required to explore areas for improvement.”
“A site survey of this type could uncover issues that may be quick, easy and inexpensive to resolve, such as inadequate pipework insulation, or poor temperature control within residents’ homes.”
Walk around surveys can be used in conjunction with metering data to help start to inform an energy efficiency improvement plan. Such exploration is unlikely to provide the complete solution to heat network efficiency. There may be problems that are more difficult to diagnose and solve, requiring expert advice from heat scheme specialists and building services professionals.
Housing managers should begin their survey by walking around each area of the network (the plant room, distribution network, heating systems within individual homes). They should look out for temperature changes along corridors and observe the level of insulation on bare pipework. It is also important to speak with residents who use the network to ensure that they understand how to use the system properly and are not wasting energy.
The guide outlines some of the common heat network errors that can affect performance. These include:
- Equipment and pipework that is over-sized, which will be less efficient
- Heat loss caused by poor insulation
- Lack of measurements and controls, such as metering and building energy management systems
- Improper commissioning and balancing of heating systems within individual residences
- Turning on and off the heat system
Steve Coates added: “It is amazing how the smallest of efficiency improvements can affect performance – leading to better reliability, lower heating costs and carbon savings.”