Heat Network Regulations
The heat network regulations are laid out in The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 as amended. The regulations give a timetable for the registration of heat networks, assessment of the viability of meter installation and rules for billing for the actual supply to individual occupiers.
Rationale for the Regulations
The purpose of these regulations is to improve the billing of customers by dividing heating bills according to their actual heat usage rather than arbitrarily dividing heating bills between a certain number of customers; this is fairer to customers who use less heating and are thus overpaying, as well as encouraging greater efficiency amongst those who may currently use more energy than they actually require but whose bills are being divided up amongst other members of the heat network. The regulations will give energy consumers more control over the cost of their heating and cooling, set minimum requirements surrounding heating bills and enable improvements to the consistency, efficiency and managements of heat networks.
If a building contains a heat network, the regulations require the supplier of heating, cooling and hot water to notify the National Measurements and Regulation Office (NMRO) by 31 December 2015. There is preferred form for the notification which must include information on the energy source technology, the estimated annual totals for heat generated and supplied, and the number and type of heat meters and heat cost allocators in the heat network. The heat supplier will be required to submit updated notifications every four years.
Following registration of a building, the heat supplier must then ascertain the viability of installing meters or heat cost allocators to measure the consumption of heating, cooling and hot water for each final customer in the communal heat network. Viability is determined based on the cost and technical feasibility of installation. Heat suppliers will also need to install thermostatic radiator valves on all radiators to give final customers greater control over their heat consumption. Should it be deemed viable to install heat meters, installation must be completed by 31 December 2016.
Individual Billing for each tenant or occupier
Once the infrastructure required for monitoring heating, cooling and hot water consumption is in place, the heat supplier has a duty to ensure that all billing is accurate and based on the actual consumption of the occupants. The heat supplier is required to supply a bill at least once a year, or in the case of electronic billing or if a customer requests it, bills must be issued at least quarterly. This billing policy is deemed viable where the cost to the supplier is less than £70 per year to cover the collection, storing and processing of meter readings, preparing and issuing billing information, processing payments and issuing demands for payment for unpaid bills.