/ Home & Energy

Could you warm to a district heating scheme?

A tiny house in someone's hands

District heating schemes could be a low-carbon solution for energy supplies, but customers are not protected by consumer regulations. Are you part of a shared heating scheme?

At Which?, we believe that for the energy market to be truly competitive, it needs to be far easier for people to compare the prices of different suppliers and switch to the cheapest one for them.

But for the 200,000 or so households who get their energy from a district heating scheme instead of through the wires and pipes of the National Grid, there is no choice of supplier. So with major interest in increasing the number of homes connected to district heating, otherwise known as a heat network, how do we ensure these people get a good deal?

What are district heating schemes?

If you’ve never heard of district heating schemes, they supply homes and businesses with heat through a network of pipes that take hot water or steam from a power plant (essentially a huge boiler) to individual properties.

Schemes can be powered by a diverse range of fuel sources, including low-carbon and renewables. Typical technologies used include energy from waste incineration, biomass fuel, and combined heat and power (CHP) plants.

CHP is an efficient use of fuel. Electricity is generated and the heat created by the process (which would usually just be waste heat) is used for another purpose, such as heating water that can then be pumped round pipes to heat homes. CHP can be gas-fired or fuelled by biomass. Therefore, district heating is potentially a more flexible and environmentally friendly way to heat more homes, as it is not dependent on just one type of fuel.

Turning up efficiency, but turning down choice

The downside is that directly connecting homes to a specific source of energy means it is virtually impossible to give people a choice of supplier. Households have very little control over who supplies their heat and the price they pay is not subject to the competitive pressures you find in a market where companies have to compete to attract and retain customers.

Households on mains electricity and gas are also protected by regulations set by Ofgem that suppliers have to comply with as a condition of their licence to supply energy. The same is not true for people on district heating. There is no consumer protection regulation at the moment and, therefore, no standards of service for the sector.

Are you on a heat network at the moment? Do you think you pay a fair price for your energy?

If you’re not on a heat network, how would you feel about living somewhere that’s connected to one? Does Ofgem need to step in to protect consumers, or could industry self-regulation be enough to ensure consumers benefit from good service and fair prices?

Comments
Guest
QueenslandRd says:
20 July 2014

We live in a new build owned by Barret Homes. They have a 25 year contract with e-ON to supply our flat with heat via DHS so we have no choice of another supplier. We noticed after a couple of months are bill were exteremly high. We now limit our heat to just hot water, enough for two showers, and the bill is still 50/month. Since we now use a minimual amount of heating I looked at moving to the lower tarriff but due they increase the KwH charge so much it makes no difference.
I have complain to e-on highlighting two ways they could make pricing fairer to their customers:

1. Review the amount they charge for insurance (which is part of the standing charge). Unlike other providers under a DHS scheme you have to pay insurance. E-on evaluate other providers insurance at around 400 pounds a year, when in fact you can get boiler insurance at 180 a year. If they want to offer a competitive price, as they claim, they have to review this cost.

2. As mentioned the difference between using a low and standard tarriff when you are using a small amount of heat makes no difference to the bill. I have asked them to reduce the 19p pre KwH on the low tarriff to a level that makes sense for a low user.

Guest
Charlotte says:
24 March 2017

We have the same problem with Eon. We live in a one bed flat, have the heating on 20/21 in the morning and evening and our bills for the last three months have been £93 a month. Eon refuse to help and we can’t switch supplier. i am reaching out to our local MP and I suggest you do the same.

Guest
Gideon Corby says:
16 October 2014

I live on a development which was completed 2 years ago. The CHP unit has yet to start supplying our heat and energy. We have been told it was made operational last weekend. One problem is that it leaks so much heat into the flats above that air-conditioning units have been installed while the contractors try to remedy the problem. Extra insulation was retro-fitted to the ceiling and a vent and fan have been fitted to extract and pump heat into the courtyard outside.

We have been relying on the back up generators for our heat so far and buy electricity from regular utility companies.

The heat is charged at a per unit rate comparable to regular energy companies so we have no benefit from the economies promised by CHP adoption. The unit rate is not directly comparable to buying gas off the grid (heat vs energy) but the bills we receive mean that the costs appear similar. A major problem is the standing charge is very large – typically two thirds of the cost of a bill so there is little incentive to cut down on the use of energy.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Guest

Sounds a real mess Gordon. Thanks for providing more insight into how to c**k-up by developers.

I used to do budgets for flat/housing developmemts on the maintenance side – insurance , cleaning , gardens , sinking fund. One of the problems on new developments was that the developers wanted us to offer a very low figure, and if they did not sell all the flats then they were not too keen on making up the difference. I wonder if there is something similar going on with your development.

Incidentally giving the standing charge as a percentage of usage is not as useful as figures …. you may be using very little power! At this time of night it helps my poor brain : )

How to do better:
http://www.zerocarbonpartnership.com/
http://www.buildingdesign-news.co.uk/sept-14/mitsubishi-recognised-with-two-awards.htm

Guest
G.Parry says:
6 December 2014

I moved into a housing association house in March 2008 (Scotland), the heating system is community biomass, supplied by said HA. When I first moved in the HA had promised to keep a low price for three years (which cost about £15-£20pw – winter), and the heating system seemed to work OK (underfloor downstairs, radiators upstairs and hot water). However, when the three years was up, the price just doubled, and at present I am averaging £5.80 per day (£40.80pw, £174per 30 days) for an incomplete system (keeps breaking down), and I only use the underfloor in the living room and hall (on constant because it’s takes so much credit to keep heating it up), water once a day and very rarely use my radiators, but according to the representatives of the HA this is about normal. I basically can’t afford to heat my house, and because it’s biomass/community heating I can’t change supplier. I’ve also never had a bill statement so I don’t even know how much I’m being charged per tariff. Is this legal, and is this a normal amount to be paying each day?

Guest
frozen orange juice says:
6 December 2014

look on the gov.uk website Policy
Increasing the use of low-carbon technologies
seems like social landlords are getting money per unit generated and used . unless its a new build but read and see
you could argue that they have to pay for installation but i think this is grant aided also .
so the more you use the more they get .not just what you pay them
its not about keeping you cosy its about saving the planet and keeping landlords rich and the tenant poor .and poorer in heat as well by the sounds of it .
back to cave man times

Guest
Trudy Stewart says:
22 January 2015

I live in a village on a Country Estate and in June last year, work was completed on a district heating scheme within all the houses in the village. The system has been very problematic but my biggest problem with it is the expense. We received minimal info from our landlord and in December, I received my first bill for £365. Since then (even though the property was empty for 12 days) I have supposedly gone on to use another £167 worth of heating.
One of the radiators had a leak from the day it was installed (fixed yesterday) and almost every day, there is 1 problem or another with the system from low pressure to overheating temperatures.
Yesterday I took a reading and it was a 4 digit number. This afternoon, the Evinox Viewsmart display screen went black and the red fault light started flashing. It was back on within 5 minutes but the heating consumption is now a 9 digit figure!
I would be interested to know if anyone else has experienced similar problems. I also cannot understand why, from talking to one of my neighbours, I am being charged 3 times as much as him although we both use the heating for a similar amount of time each day and have the same amount of radiators “on”.
There are a number of unhappy customers/residents within my village and it is by no means turning out to be the cheaper fuel alternative we were promised.

Guest
Jim Forrest says:
23 January 2015

Hi. I have been an Energy advisor for 7 years, my client’s are my number one priority, I have been involved in a couple of District heating projects in the last couple of years and I cannot believe Ofgem are not getting involved in regulating the pricing. The District heating system is a very good way of guaranteeing that suppliers will have someone tied in to their supply whether they like it or not. Getting back to the pricing the whole idea behind District heating is to help alleviate fuel poverty so they say, so how come the less energy you use the more expensive the kWh becomes. The standing charges are a rip off people are being charged whether they use their heating or not and if you are Energy efficient and use less energy you will pay more. It does not make sense lets get real on the pricing. Ebico a not for profit organisation no hidden costs no standing charges only pay for what you use.

Guest
DRD Woodward says:
16 December 2015

I’m looking for advice /resource links/forums to build a legally supported case against my HA/HP supplier.
In short ;
The HA/Council/Energy Supplier installed a CHP that turned out to be for to large for the current demand, even taking into account current and proposed HA building expansions.
Thus the system is running well below its cost effective levels. The Supplier (Vital ) have had difficulty in sustaining the systems maintenance budget let alone make any profit. Without consultation with the tenants the HA, who set the limits the supplier can charge … allowed for a standing charge to be imposed. This charge doubled my bill.
Since then I have refused to run their system, opting for alternative methods of heating. However, even though I have powered off the entire system from the fuse box … the standing charge appears to be accumulating such that when I did have occasion ( elderly visitor who needed that extra warmth ) to put it back on, I found that it was consuming the credit at a ridiculous rate .. presumably clawing back those missed standing charges.

My question is, what legislation is in place, if any, that sets the maximum % of repayment of any arrears that can be clawed off a normal top up payment.

Personally I would have preferred a higher unit cost. That would have allowed me the control over my costs. This standing charge in effect penalises those who are frugal and energy waste conscious and rewards those who burn up a lot. Wholly contrary to the ethos of the CHP system and the companies mission statement.

Guest
Anon says:
13 August 2016

Consumers need to report this to the Competition & Markets Authority and the Energy Ombudsman.It is an abuse of dominant market position. Ie a monopoly. The more consumers who complain, the more likely it is that the likes of E.On will be investigated.

Guest
John Richie says:
23 January 2015

I moved to a brand new flat built by Barratt Homes, at St. Andrews Village in Bromley-by-Bow. Thank god I am a tenant and not an owner. Little did I know about district heating when I moved, and I don’t think the owner knows either. Although there is underfloor heating, having the thermostats set on a temperature that keeps the flat just warmish (there are days that I wake up in the morning and it is not warm at all), gives me a heat bill of 80 quid a month!!! Having talked to eon they told me that my usage is 2.5 times what it should have been for a two-bedroom flat at St. Andrews Village but have no idea why is that, and on the other hand an engineer told me that it is normal usage, so go figure.

The other thing is that the charges are really high, almost 6p per unit (kWh), but the big rip-off here is the standing charges, which is almost 130p (YES you read right 1,30 quid per day!!!) per day!!! So on a summer month if I was not using at all heat or hot water, I would still pay 40 quid for standing charges!!!

I was already considering moving when my tenancy agreement finishes, and having read this article and also the fact that I am not yet protected as a consumer and that I cannot move to a different provider, I am even more skeptical getting out of here and saving money.

Guest

Hi John, we live in the same development as you, been here a few years. We have a one bed flat and rarely have the heating on but that’s because it’s well insulated. I’m shocked at your heat costs. We have water programmed for one hour a day which is enough for showers and washing up. The default tariff Eon put you on is the mid range one, I changed our tariff to low user (can’t remember the right term) but it made a difference. We’re paying around 15p/kwh and 23p/day standing charge. I recently looked at the bills which are never more than £18 a month in total. I wonder if your heating is on for long hours? Might be worth setting the times and see it it makes a difference for you. I still think the standing charges are a rip off!

Guest
battledor says:
1 June 2016

NL: EON claim here to set max price at 5.198 p/kWh :
https://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2016/4/E,-d-,ON-UK-plc/SHP_ADJ_301757.aspx#.V08Yp_krJaT
yet you say you are paying 15 p/kWh, is this right?

Guest

I see others are in a similar situation as I am, yes the standing charges are a rip-off, and so is the unit charge!!!

What will it take for ofgem to get involved and finally do something about this?

Profile photo of John Ward
Guest

I expect Ofgem’s [and the government’s] general philosophy is that competition will sort out prices and that it is the regulator’s job to provide a level playing field so that proper comparisons can be made. Unfortunately this cannot work where households are tied to a supplier and physically connected to a district heating scheme. Some years ago I was visiting friends in Cologne and I remember being impressed by their district heating system. Their apartment was one of several hundred apartments in a number of blocks, plus some detached and other properties, on an estate in the outskirts owned by an insurance company that also managed the development. They seemed to have a comfortable level of warmth even in the freezing conditions of February and ample hot water. The running costs seemed to be moderate, which one would expect given the economies of scale and the industrial-standard infrastructure. Even the common parts of the apartment building had a background level of heat which helped people keep their own flats comfortable.

District heating in the UK seems to be dearer than it ought to be, probably because we don’t do it on a big enough scale, but also because it is seen as a profit centre rather than as a service to residents. I presume that the monthly heating charges in a district scheme contain an amount for maintaining and servicing the system and provision for major repairs and renewals, so a straight consumption-based energy price comparison is not necessarily appropriate. Householders with their own boilers are probably paying out around £80-£100 a year for maintenance and are usually not making any provision for future major renewals. Factoring in these elements could still show district heating in the UK to be relatively expensive, however.

Guest

Yes, it is expensive and someone should do something about it sooner rather than later. Most people are still not aware of the fact that district heating is not regulated, and that they cannot change provider. District heating is being advertised as being cheaper than having gas, but actually it is far more expensive.

I will pay almost 500 pounds in a year just for service charge, whereas if I had a gas boiler I would have paid 80-100 a year for maintenance like you said, or probably nothing as I am a tenant and not an owner. So imagine that where I live there are around 10 buildings and maybe 1000 properties, so half a million pounds a year for servicing and maintaining a district heating installation sounds to be a complete rip-off! 1400 pounds a day! more or less!!! Even the high usage plan, which is supposed to have a low price per unit, the unit is still much more expensive than that of gas.

The problem will continue to grow, as there are new developments being built all around, especially in London, and people need to be aware what they are getting themselves into. Maybe if awareness increases and more people complain, Ofgem will finally get involved…

Profile photo of John Ward
Guest

I have a feeling that district heating schemes are outwith Ofgem’s terms of reference as they seem to be concerned only with network energy companies supplying fuel. District heating schemes buy fuel [and that is under Ofgem’s regulation] but they sell heat which is outside Ofgem’s remit – at the moment: if there were enough political pressure Parliament could change the law and bring district heating schemes within the regulator’s scope. A district heating scheme must be able to buy fuel at much lower prices than ordinary households pay but the output price of the heat produced will depend on the thermal efficiency of their heating plant, the quality of their distribution system, servicing and maintenance costs, repayment of capital and depreciation, provision for major repairs and renewals, overheads including structures, personnel, taxes, administration and billing, and – not forgetting – profit.

By the way, if you were a tenant with a gas boiler, you would pay for maintenance – it’s in the rent [plus possibly the landlord’s cost in carrying out the annual gas appliance inspection and test, so another £50].

Guest

I am confident that district heating will be regulated eventually, I am just not confident at all that it will happen anytime soon.

On the other hand I am thinking that if I am not protected as a consumer by Ofgem (or the energy ombudsman in particular), am I protected as a consumer my any other body? As a consumer I am buying a product (heat), which is being advertised as being not just at the same price as gas, but even cheaper, and definitely this is not the case.

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Guest

You might have an interesting discussion with your local Trading Standards service on this point but I would not expect miracles. It would be easier to quit your flat and move to one with its own heating system. Hopefully you would save the cost of the move through lower energy bills.

Guest
Rachael says:
24 January 2015

If you are a tenant and have a gas boiler the law states that the landlord is responsible for the maintenance of the boiler and must produce a current gas safety certificate, this cost should not be borne by the tenant. I have worked in the lettings industry for 17 years and these charges are never passed to the tenant as it would go against current regulations. Therefore it is fundamentally wrong that HA tenants are effectively being forced to pay for the maintenance of their heating and hot water under these district heating schemes.

Guest
Nick Lords says:
25 January 2015

I am also in the same situation, moved into a new apartment, and got a heat bill that is more expensive than if I was using gas.

So the outrageous standing charges should ideally be broken down to 2 charges, one normal like gas bills have, and one service charge that the owner would have to pay?

Guest
Glynn Van-de-Velde says:
18 February 2015

Last year I bought a new leasehold property with a communal heating system. I thought I understood what the typical heating costs would be after getting the EPC certificate. This has proved to be outrageously incorrect. The EPC suggested typical annual cost would be around £350 for heating and around £80 for hot water per year. After 70 days average of 5 hrs per day heating, the cost was £600.
The system metres consumption not on heat used but by volume through a ring supplied to the flat. Using the thermostatic radiator valves has no effect on consumption. The local building inspector tells me that this system was approved as OK!
It is unbelievable that this was approved, unbelievable that OFGEM doesn’t get involved and that these landlord/management companies are allowed to conduct themselves with impunity.
We feel completely let down by what amounts to complicit misleading of ourselves as purchasers of this leasehold.
Our only option is to use still expensive but relatively cheap electrical heating of the space with portable heaters.
What a joke!

Guest
Ben says:
2 April 2015

District heat systems are a monopoly as only 1 provider set the rates. This effectively mean higher rates charges to consumers.

As I am currently experiencing, this system is not only inefficient (heat lost through pipes as well as slower to heat up water compared to a conventional gas boiler installed inside the home), it is considerable more expensive i.e. the standing charge effectively doubles the amount you have to pay (this is with E-On).

I am disappointed with the developer, Barratts, and E-On when I only realised this until after I moved into my new flat and my first bill arrived: it was a big, big shock. As mentioned district heating is a monopoly: I cannot vote with my feet and dealing with them was a extremely frustrating process for all tenants when negotiating with Barratts and E-On: effectively we had to compromise: it was not to everyone’s satisfaction but there was no other alternative but to agree.

My ultimate disappointment goes to the government on how such a system can be approved. I can only hope that the government reconsiders the affordability of such a system

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Guest

Hello everyone, we’ve published a new debate covering our investigation into district heating: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/district-heating-problems-gas-electricity/

Guest
kerry says:
21 May 2015

I live in a village that has 20 houses connected to a district heating scheme using biomass, we have no choice of supplier as it is provided through the HA that i rent from. When i first moved in, in November 2012 it was a set price of £26.44 per week which was billed through rent account, there was no fair usage policy if you used 1kwh or 100000kwh per week you were £26.44 pw. Then in april 2013 it changed to individually billing each property by what kwh they used, however to work out what they were going to charge they took what the meter reading was on day i moved in up april 2013 and based the charge on that usage and then charged it at 9.85p per kwh.

The most recent billing statement that we received from HA was issued on 7th jan this year and was for period of september 2013 until december 2014 stating that some tenants had underpaid some were near £500, however the charge that they were charging was now 11.62p kwh at which the tenants were never were never informed of this price increase going back to sept 2013 and especially since member of staff from HA stated that kwh price was 9.85p at a meeting in feb 2014.

We have complained to HA about this for over year especially when we found out that the biomass system is flawed it has had all sorts of problems from start from pressure, leaks etc but recently I found out that for the last billed period of sept 2013 – dec 2014 the 20 houses used a total of 250966 kwh but the charge for the system for hat period was for 457200 kwh which ment that the system is leaking 45% of the usage so a total of 206234 kwh was charged to the 20 houses. Some tenants which most are familys or oaps are paying anything from £30-£60 per week and this is charged through rent account so if people cant afford to pay full amount every week for the full year they are going in to rent arrears.

So as a tenant in a district heated property i say yes ofcom do need to step up and help tenants as we cant afford this and we are strugging to find help i have been on to cab, councillor, trading standard, consumer helpline and no one seems to be able to help us because we pay the HA

Guest
Fair Pricing for Heat says:
26 June 2015

Did you know that residents at East Village (the Olympic Village) can complain to the Ombudsman whilst the rest of us cannot??

For more info have a look at https://www.facebook.com/groups/districtheat/

Together we can make a difference

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Guest

We managed to get BBC to film our estate for their Rip off Series and its available online.

Same issues as the rest of us here. Second story in on the show.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06cpcj0/rip-off-britain-series-7-episode-2

Guest

Please help me gather evidence for our MP and the CAB at

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NSMXW2M

this survey will take less than a minute to complete – please pass this on so we can get more responses

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Guest

Not only should this be seen as a monopoly issue there is also an issue for landlords as we are in one of these schemes and a tenant left without having paid for their utility usage whilst living at the apartment and now Swith 2 Ener-G are now pursuing the landlord for the outstanding debt as this has been written into the contract. This however cannot be a fair contract as the landlord has no control over how much energy the tenant uses, yet can still be liable for any debts. No other energy company can get away with this so should these companies be allowed, they are taking advantage of the system. I would avoid buying a property which has one of these schemes, and I wonder how much is in it for the management companies / developers to encourage them to agree to such schemes?

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Guest

I have had the worst experience with District Energy.
I am a housing association tenant and was told AFTER signing the tenancy agreement in 2012, when I asked about the gas and electric. The housing officer said that we could not change gas supplier BUT it would cost less than other suppliers and was eco friendly. What a total lie!

It is the most expensive, debt ridden and unaffordable supplier I have ever been with. We have had nothing but problems with the cost and service. Yet despite all the problems and complaints, our landlord couldn’t care less because they are the ones that decide on the charges.

From day one, our heaters wouldn’t heat fully unless thermostat was turned high and individual heaters turned up to max. The heaters would only get hot at the top with the bottom being cold. Forcing me to put the temperature higher. Struggled so much financially and to keep the flat warm, had to cut back massively on usage. A senior housing officer who had visit regularly for meter readings due to the meters being defective, informed me the boiler was losing a lot of heat which wasn’t normal. I had one engineer visit after the first year for the yearly check and he informed me there was a problem with the immersion and he would report it back. Nothing was ever done. The pipes connecting to the boiler are very, very hot when running the heating. The hot water is also very hot to the point you say ouch.

But Ofgem do not deal with the supplier Ener-G Switch2 and our landlord Housing for Women wouldn’t authorise S2 to send out an engineer, stating I would have to pay for it if not faults found. I made a complaint to Switch2. Eventually an engineer was authorised, more than two years later. He said there was nothing wrong with the meter but he said the heaters thermostat had been fitted incorrectly and that was the landlords responsibility. I contacted landlord and explained what I was told. However, I was then told that no reports were made to the wrong fittings. I was then told by switch2 there was some kind of misunderstanding and that the engineer didn’t tell me that. I know what he said and I know I heard him right!

Despite requesting details of charges and costs, our landlord refused to budge and give the details of what I was being charged for, which as a paying tenant, I should have a right to know. Instead, in may 2015, I was sent a new utility agreement and details of new G6 meters being upgraded for the following month. I emailed the housing officer and told her I would not be signing the contract as I did not agree with their high costs and half working heaters.

The consumption cost was 12 pence per KwH. Then changed to 9.7 KwH in February 2015. As we have no rights under our HA, I had to have the new meter fitted in June 2015.

I was shocked to see how quick the credit would run, even when no hot water or heating was being used. We was given no instructions or manuals on how to operate the new meter. The topping up was worse than before where we could only top up at our local Londis shop. If topped up by 5.30pm, my money would be added the next morning. If after 5.30pm, then it would take two days. No details, no explanations, nothing was given to us. many neighbours were and are unhappy. Furthermore, I couldn’t understand why a daily charge was being deducted as it was showing 55.4 pence being deducted. Landlord still refusing to budge, Switch2 finally managed to contact me to explain that the landlord is in charge of deciding what we are charged and the standing charge was deducted by the landlord. he said, they were just the middleman who take our money on behalf of the landlord, who then pass our money to landlord.

The G6 meter by Ener-G Switch2 is suppose to be better and easier. What a joke. The meters are suppose to show consumption, cost, tariff, usage and a lot more. Mine doesn’t. And its been reported again and again but being ignored.

After reporting my issues via Twitter, landlord wrote stating that their charges were based on another building they own, next to our street. That doesn’t even make sense. how can you base and decide charges on other people’s usage, who have a different building and used it longer?

We have lost a lot of money, gone through severe hardship, having to stop my son’s swimming lessons, days out as I can no longer manage to keep both home warm with hot water and have my son do his hobbies. The heaters go off at 8:30am and come on at 4pm Monday to Friday. Its set on a timer. I’m ashamed to say that I have a shower once very 7-10 days and my teen son 2 times a week. The only heaters I have on are the living room and bedrooms. I turn mine off often to help save credit. Every now and then I put the kitchen on.

District energy for us has been nothing but a nightmare, rip off and the government are doing nothing about it. Its shambolic and criminal.

Guest
Home Owner says:
27 November 2016

Hi, are you part of the KNH District Heating?

Thanks

Guest
Legged Over says:
3 May 2016

We live on a big new development in western Bath and have a community biomass scheme for which we have a 25 year contract. Our findings are that bills are twice what we expected which we know is pushing some socially-housed tenants into fuel poverty.

The big issue, however, is that we have found that the Management Company (currently run by the developer – but residents will assume control when the estate is completed) has the biomass building down as a liability on its balance sheet.

Should the energy company want to walk away after 25 years they have to leave a 7 year reserve fund but then the entire liability (i.e. the biomass building and infrastructure) is owned by the residents. There is no mention of what the total financial liability is on Form TP1 (lodged with our deeds at The Land Registry) but it could be millions – and we would be left with no heating. We only wanted to buy a new build house!

I liken our experience with our CHP as akin to a 90 year old person walking into a bank and coming out with a complex financial structured product. It is completely inappropriate and unacceptable for members of the public to end up with something like this when buying a house.

It seems that the local council pushed the biomass solution onto the developer so that it could meet its own carbon target with no care, no due diligence and no duty of care to the members of the public that they have forced this “green” energy solution on.

My advice to is avoid new build estates with anything that remotely resembles “community CHPs” or management company liabilities.

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Guest

Legged Over- are the company running the biomass at a loss for tax purposes ? The Carbon Trust Energy Efficiency Finance give flexible loans to businesses as does the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund Scheme . If that isnt enough Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA,s ) enable a business to claim 100 % first year capital allowance on their spending on qualifying plant and machinery . Something not kosher here.

Guest
Emma says:
18 May 2016

Barratt should know better! Why on earth would they tie-in landlords and tenants for 25 years to such extortionate rates? My letting agent, Gordon & Co. failed to inform me before I moved into the premises that I would be tied into EOn’s very high rates (the standing charge benefitting purely the landlord, so why should the tenant be liable to pick up the cost?). I would probably not have moved in, had I known! More to the point, why is this not regulated?!! OfGem or an independent ombudsman need to regulate the monopolistic powers of EOn. Surely the CMA would be interested?

Guest
Aumen says:
4 June 2016

I definitely think that it should be regulated and also reviewed as to whether it is really carbon efficient. It needs to also be transparent as to what financial incentives are provided to Housing Developers/ Associations. There are now a lot of green electric providers and the carbon efficiency needs to be compared with this.

Guest
alan says:
2 August 2016

Our housing association has installed district heating/hot water. Since it was installed i have monitored it closely and it is approximately twice as expensive as my previous off peak system. This is a real problem for a low income family and we have no right to switch or opt out. Plus all tenants now have to prepay by adding credit to a meter. This is a totally backward step, CRAZY!

Guest
e dibb says:
21 November 2016

Dear alan we have the same prob ,does your area happen to be broomhill or another cube housing area thanks

Guest
Jonathan Bayliff says:
6 August 2016

I am Chairman of our Residents’ Association here at Officers Field in Portland Dorset, where 59 homes are supplied with heat via 3 district heating networks powered by biomass boilers with gas as back-up. We were told in our marketing literature the heating would be reliable and cheap but the opposite is true. We started paying 4.5 p/kWh but are now on 6.9p/kWh and have recently been told the true cost is actually 11.9 p/kWh so are facing a huge hike in prices. We also pay £300 per year in standing charge so the actual cost of our heat is around 17.5 p/kWh. We are currently in dispute with the developer, Zero C, and it is affecting the value of our homes. Recently a buyer was advised to pull out of the purchase of one of our homes due to the serious nature of this dispute. We have no redress so are preparing for a legal action with our developer, who we believe has mishandled the whole thing from the design stage onward. We have found another development in Chichester with very similar problems so we are comparing notes, but this does seem to be a very common problem – we are all shocked there is no get out and no protection from OFGEM. I suggest we write to our MPs and outline the problems and the lack of redress, so we get protection legislated ASAP. We are not taking this lying down and have a few ideas up our sleeve to encourage Zero C to take responsibility for this mess.

Guest
Agni says:
17 August 2016

Has anyone been ever happy with that heating system ? It works extremely well in Eastern Europe but after reading the comments I’m wondering what heating system to go for while buying a flat.

Guest

It has been very useful reading all of your comments. I have just moved into the new Bellway development at Drayton Garden Village. I am an energy professional, understand the pro’s and con’s quite well of the CHP supplying the heat. However, I do not understand why it is not regulated by OFGEM.

Our provider is EON, and one would think with their recent fines (misselling/pricing) they would have learnt from previous mistakes. I was almost certain they would not want yet another fine on their books.

I am yet to check the terms and conditions of my housing association to see if I am liable for the costs of the plant when the 25 year contract comes to an end.

I have written to OFGEM asking for guidance, and will update the forum if/when I hear back.

Guest
Steve Wyatt says:
6 January 2017

Hi Ams,

Thank you for your comments. I’m also with E.ON Heat and have a number of issues, which I’m unable to address. My case is with the Ombudsman and I’ve also written to the ASA, pending a response. I’ve also started to get legal advice to see next steps.

I was wondering if you’ve heard back from OFGEM and if so, whether it made sense for more of us to do the same, since collectively we stand a better chance.

Thanks,

Steve

Guest
frozenorangejiuce says:
15 December 2016

haveinh had oilfired boiler which i installed in rented home costing 11 pounds a week to run the heating on 24 hrs a dayfor 6 months of the year and been on district heating or 15 years .i imeddiatly found that my home cost 40 80 pounds a week to heat it the same .it just does not equate .unit cost started at 3.5now 5.5 .which seems reasonable but the house leaks heat .landlord refuses to do anything as its a big job and i would have to move out etc which im quite willing to do but hes not goverment want to helpbut he does not want his biulding touched .surely its mad that a subsidy is paid when heating is connected up to biomass and heat leaking house .where is the energy saving .re the planet .so the energy i save by not using it is where the energy saving comes in .ive heated one room for years by wood only which keeps me warm but rest of house can be freezing . im only financially able to use heating when its really cold now as ive got my pension and other benifits . but i still cannot use it like i would like as i dont have 80 pounds a week for heating .
the only proper way toheat a homelike this is constantly. ive tried ust haveing three radiators on but this does not seem to make any difference it still racks up silly amounts .12 pounds a day its not the cost per kwh its the house . unlessa a house is sealedand insulated properly no matter what cost per kwh your billswillalways be expensive as radiators never turn of with stats .ive given up i just hang out in living room aaaand do a quick dash for a pee occasionaly into the frozen north bathroom complete with frozen shut windows .
i used to visit mygreat aunt who had warm air central heating .she couldnot afford that in a wee flat .when you knocked on the door she would puton the heating then off when you left so i do not think she was so poor she could not use it .how many other pensioners do this?.at least ihave mywood burner which costs me 100per month for wood blocks but at least i know what im using and dont get ant surprise bills that would takememonths topay if ever . so the alternative is to go live in a box surrounded with insualtion but there are not enough to go round and def not in the country . soif you want tolive rurally you have to shut up and put upwith all of the above .

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Vinny says:
19 December 2016

I’m paying 83p/day standing charge and then 4.99p/Kwh of heat. This seems very high when you work out that for my 1 bed flat I’m paying £23.90 a month without even using any heat. Just wondering how those charges compared to others. I’m in Royal Arsenal Riverside development in Woolwich.

Guest
Steve Wyatt says:
6 January 2017

Dear All,

Following your read through of the Which? report on District Heat (DH), which is the supply of heat and/or hot water from one source to a district or a group of buildings, I wanted to add to an additional voice to the growing comments below.

Currently, there are 6 energy suppliers registered under the Heat Trust as participants. These include; E.ON Energy Solutions Ltd, SSE Heat Networks Ltd, Metropolitan King’s Cross, East London Energy Ltd and Switch2 Energy Ltd.

Below is a summary of the core issues that consumers are currently facing with a DH supply:

*Fixed into long-term DH supply agreements of 25 years, which means DHN customers can’t switch supplier (so the DHN has the monopoly)
*Unregulated unlike customers with a gas or electric supplier (who are regulated by OFGEM)
*Make a claim that DH is “…low carbon, cost effective, secure heating system to give you warm, affordable living.”, which is misleading and false to consumers because we’re paying up to 50% (and in some cases more) than a gas central heating system. To this end, some customers, including myself have recently submitted complaints to the ASA to have this investigated and if you’re in a similar position and feel the same way, I strongly advise you to do the same
*Note that DH suppliers include standing daily charges (with E.ON Heat, mine is 84p per day, but other customers at other sites pay different standing daily charges, including a £1 p/d and I’m sure others, pay different amounts)
*Note, E.ON charge customers for a non-existent boiler replacement programme, which is on the basis that there isn’t any clarification for the HIU replacements. Technically speaking, this means we are funding the programme multiple times
*Note that some customers (myself included) have identified faults, which are contributing or in some cases, probably causing overcharging through faulty SMART meters and/or reverse flow, wiring issues after the 25 year contract expires. This is the main reason I’ve submitted a complaint with the Energy Ombudsman. However, to date, no customer who has followed this process with the Ombudsman has been successful. This is because the Ombudsman has been making assessments based on the Heat Trust, which is unfairly bias due to board members (Jeremy Bungey is the Head of DHN for E.ON, yet also sits on the Heat Trust’s board, along with some of their suppliers. The Heat Trust also make misleading and false claims, which links directly to our ASA complaints

E.ON Heat are refusing to have contact with me, but I continue to have excessive (+50% higher) heat consumption compared with similar E.ON Homes (per evidence I have from my online customer account usage tracker).

My equipment responsibilities have been checked several times by a qualified plumber, who has given my equipment a clean bill of health. Barratt Homes arranged for their contractor to check my responsibilities for leaks as well as an independent contractor, both found no leaks. All this points to it being an E.ON Heat issue, but they disclaim responsibility and now they won’t communicate with me. Even if the Ombudsman finds in my favour (which seems unlikely), they could only force E.ON Heat to refund money owed to me and an apology, which won’t resolve the issue for me or other consumers who are experiencing the same issues.

Barratt Homes built the development I live in a few years ago, but its still under the NEBC, although Barratt Homes are now also refusing to communicate with me. This is despite me raising these issues with them several times.

I would advise with extreme caution before moving anywhere with a DH supply. Currently, it doesn’t live up to the statements made on the Heat Trust, E.ON Heat and I’m sure other sources, shoudl we continue to dig further.

Good luck

[Sorry Steve, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

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Charles Montlake says:
6 January 2017

When I bought my flat E.On had a Price Promise that Heat would be no more expensive than gas. It was on their website and their brochure. So, at the end of the first year I asked E.On for the difference to be returned.

The Heat Trust are claiming to be an independent consumer champion. In fact one of their directors (Jeremy Bungey) is the man in charge of District Heat at E.On. I am complaining to the ASA.

Reading these comments it is clear that a lot of people are being hurt by the behaviour of a small number of suppliers. OFGEM is the obvious answer but we need to band together because, as individuals, we are being fobbed off.

District Heat is a good idea which should work. Many Utility companies are fined for unscrupulous behaviour in competitive regulated markets. They should be banned from entering an noncompetitive unregulated market until they can clean up their act – but that is just my opinion

[Sorry Charles, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

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Theunknownone says:
23 January 2017

I moved into a new block of council flats last year in Essex with district heating. I’m with Evinox which no one seems to of mentioned on here. I pay 24.6p standing charge per day and 0.08.61 kWh. Since I moved in I May I’ve paid £200 for hot water/heating in 8 months but then I have had the washing machine on all the time and use a lot of hot water and recently had the radiator on because it’s been cold.

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Just to clarify, you have a washing machine that runs off the hot water supply?

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It’s a washer/dryer so yes it does

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Thanks Theunkownone.

For economy I think all dishwashers and washing machines should be able to take hot water direct from the house supply rather than using electricity to heat freezing cold water [today] to high temperatures.

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John if you Google “why hot fill is a waste of time” you’ll get at least one good explanation form there as to why it is a waste of time.

I know it seems inverse to logic for many people but, it’s true.

K.

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It depends on various factors whether it is better to use hot & cold fill. For those who are able to heat their water with solar power, using hot water is a good idea. I can see more point with dishwashers.

Kenneth – Your article mentions killing enzymes in biological detergents above 40°C. Is there evidence that this would happen?

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Yes.

The enzymes are designed to work at low temperature, us all be ecological and all that makes sense.

K.

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My understanding is that proteases work fine at 60°C, having been derived from thermophilic bacteria. There are two or three other enzymes that are used commercially and it seems likely they are also fairly tolerant of heat. Biological detergents are one of the reasons for long washing cycles because they take time to do their good work.

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Kenneth – I’m pleased to see your article ‘Hot Water Fill For Washing Machines Again’ suggesting how people can carry out their own experiments. A gas smart meter makes this much easier.

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Don’t know. Detergent manufacturers are obviously not keen on sharing the exact components with outsiders. 😉

All I know is what I’ve been told and understand of it.

Long wash times are a side effect of less water more. To get the same cleaning effect the wash time has to be extended to allow the water and electricity reductions that allow the low energy use. No other way to do it unless someone finds a way around physics.

K.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
23 January 2017

Kenneth – on most matters I agree with you however I do think you are overstating the case on the hot fill question.

My Bosch 2000WM does have dual fill and I have tested the input temperature with my infra-red sensor. In the powder bowl the water is at 60C flushing it out.
It certainly reduces the length of the wash cycle and is at a genuine 60C

If you look at the Miele WM manuals you will find they actually have a calculation showing how much energy is saved by using solar warmed water. It would seem that the Germans also buy dual-fill machines.

As you are probably aware research finds many machines claiming to do a 60C wash are actually doing it at far lower temperatures. Test..de recorded one opearting at 27C on a 60C [!] wash cycle.

I would like to hear a case made regarding people in the Mediterranean lands benefiting by not using solar heated water but paying for electricity to do the job!

As to biological cleaning as most regulars here know powders with bleach are the most efficient against viruses and higher temperature is part of the mix. As to funguses , and moulds , and bugs temperature works.

One of the other EU innovations was to reduce water usage levels in WM’s and research proves quite clearly that for allergy sufferers more rinses are often required.

I am sure for those who have no need to do hygeinic washing – that is never get sick etc – then washing at lower temperatures is adequate. Unfortunately as you are probably aware many nurses and ancilliary workers, farmers etc wash clothes at home. Dual-fill and proper temperatures for these people will probably be sensible.

I heat my water at night-rate prices so I am not sure why I would want to use day-time rates for heating the wash water.

P.S. This site incidentally covers various diseases and washing procedures but is light on allergens, moulds, and bugs. The science though for viruses etc is covered.
ifh-homehygiene.org/

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The sooner that manufacturers stop marking their machines with meaningless temperatures the better. I object to misrepresentation.

I remain to be convinced that washing machines are a threat to our health provided we take a few precautions. The first is to end the risky practice of having nurses etc launder uniforms. Secondly it is essential to carry out regular maintenance washes to prevent the innards of washing machines becoming heavily contaminated with bacteria and fungi – which could contaminate future loads. If fabrics are contaminated with faeces or someone has an infected wound then chemical treatment such as used as a pre-wash for nappies is sensible practice.

Washing clothes and other fabrics at low temperature is remarkably effective and has become commonplace over the past few decades. Many modern fabrics don’t survive well if washed at 60°C and I have converted plenty of fitted-sheets to ones that don’t fit. The washing process removes the bugs and allergens along with the dirt. I am allergic to dust and having experimented over many years I find the best solution is to wash bedding regularly. I try to do mine every four days. In the same way that we can carry out our own tests to establish whether hot & cold fill would save or waste money, I suggest allergy sufferers experiment with how we do the washing.

Of course this is equally relevant whether or not you have a district heating scheme. 🙂

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Kenneth -I have read your articles on hot fill and accept that in an average house hot fill does not make sense and is probably more wasteful than the normal arrangement. However, if the correct type of washing machine is available, able to take both hot and cold fill and to regulate the inflow temperatures, it could make a lot of sense. Yes, initially there is a lot of cold water in the pipes as hot water is drawn through but that can be used to moderate the much hotter water that will come from the hot tank or the combi boiler in order to produce the desired washing temperature. I am convinced that machines can be designed to cope with this and have suitable temperature regulation. I question whether it is absolutely necessary to use only 3-4 litres of water for the wash; I suggest that saving electricity is a higher priority than saving some water. I anticipate the point that more water in the machine means more electricity for pumping and circulating and additional wear on the drum motor and bearings and so on. But at the current rate of counter arguments we shall be back to taking our washing down to the stream if we’re not careful.

I think a hot fill option would work well in our house and many others like it. The hot water circuit to the utility room is very short – the boiler is above the washing machine and the hot tank is on the first floor just above the boiler so it is a tight loop. If I open the tap over the sink adjacent to the washing machine hot water is present within a very few seconds. The hot water outflow pipes are lagged. The cold water inflow pipes to the boiler are not lagged so the water is at around ambient temperature, not very cold as the water direct from the main to the cold taps and appliances is during the winter. If I had the opportunity I would give it a go even if the savings were marginal because I think it is a better way to do it.

Which brings us to the situation which Theunknownone described at the top of this sub-thread. You have said that there are virtually no hot & cold fill washing machines available in the UK anymore, yet Theunknownone has confirmed that he or she is running such a machine, that it is a washer/dryer, and that it is fed from the district heating scheme at low energy rates and no doubt with an abundant supply of very hot water constantly on tap. That seems to me to be the ideal set up.

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On a community system it does make more sense yes but, there’s still issues as that sort of system is quite widely used in Sweden and other Nordic countries and I’ve looked at them in the past.

We looked at all this in huge depth and detail and the long and short of it is summarised in those articles but for most people, most of the time it makes little sense on modern washing machine that will fill with 5l or less.

Now, I will ‘fess up, I’v got issues with a whole raft of the “environmental” stuff here and again, I’ve studied this to huge lengths for the industry so I know what I’m talking about, I’ve lectured on it several times and consult with universities and government on the topic so, I know this stuff very well.

To simplify or at least try to, in order reduce energy you must reduce the energy used in heating the water it is 90% or more of the wash cycle energy use and the only place you can make any difference but, as anyone that’s been to high school will tell you, to heat X volume or water to Y temperature takes Z amount of energy. That’s it, physical law there’s no getting around.

It makes not a jot of difference where you heat it to the desired temperature the energy use is the same.

With solar you can argue that the energy is “free” but it really isn’t, the energy cost is already in the panel, the manufacturing, shipping and so on and in terms of energy in to energy out, back to high school physics, you can’t get more out than you put in. The current crop of panels are getting closer to zero either way but, they aren’t there yet. The premise being that instead pf producing CO2 and whatever locally in power generation all you’ve done is move that to China or wherever the panel was produced, a case of “not in my back yard” pretty much.

The same applies when you look at energy cost in production so, you add a component or ten or whatever and then you need to sit and work out whether the energy consumed to do that will or can ever be recovered over the life. With modern machines lifespans so short, it can’t be in 100% of cases I’ve looked at. In fact most times it just makes things worse.

Then atop that you’ve the cost of getting shot of the waste.

However in the interim most of the time all you’re really doing is moving the energy production or consumption about, you’re not really saving anything in real terms. Financially, maybe but not in actual energy use or CO2 production.

The problem I often find, from my perspective, is that people don’t see or understand this fairly complex system and are all too often sold the notion of “free” power or how water when really that’s merely a illusion in energy terms. Often financially as well.

Again from my perspective on things, the sensible thing to do if you want to be eco-friendly is to do the most energy efficient thing and that is in 99.999% of cases, avoiding hot fill as it wastes energy in virtually every single case.

Add to that long life, which is far more achievable than defying the laws of physics and most certainly achievable quite easily.

It is hard to get your head around and it is as I said, often counter to accepted wisdom or people’s logical train of thought but, nonetheless the calculations on it stand to date. I’m more than happy to revisit them if there’s any technological advance in the area but for the time being and, foreseeable future, I know of none that would make any discernible difference.

Thing is, PR and marketing people get a hold of it and in my opinion sell people on a lie, it’s false promises incredibly badly explained in silly straplines that explain nothing to people.

K.

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I did calculations back in the early 80s and came to the conclusion that it was more economical to make use of gas heated hot water in my washing machine, which took in more water than a current model and the pipe run was short. My present house has a much longer pipe run and since modern machines use less water I was happy to buy a cold-fill machine. Modern practice is to wash at low temperatures except for maintenance washes.

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My previous washing machine had hot and cold fill.

If doing a hot wash, the main advantage of using a hot fill was to reduce the time of the wash as the machine seemed to take forever to heat the water from cold. It could be considered wasteful running the kitchen tap until the hot water appeared only about a metre from the machine, but the way I saw it, if a tankful of hot water is only going to cool down and go to waste, you might as well use it. We heat the tank on cheap rate electric and when it has gone it has gone most of the time.

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I think sometimes we have to cut through the propositions and counter arguments and do what we think is best in our own situations. In my mind there is no doubt that many homes would be better off with hot fill. Drawing just a few litres off the gas-heated hot tank will not instantly cause the boiler to fire up and replace it with new hot water. I go along with Alfa – running the hot tap for a few seconds before starting the washing cycle will mean an efficient use of both the hot water system and the washing machine. But I agree – it’s not for everyone.

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Cost you can discuss till the cows come home, mileage will vary depending on a host of factors.

Actual energy use, not so much.

Modern machines “cheat” be giving a 40/60/90 or whatever wash but never hitting that temp as it’s not a requirement of the standards so, in order to proclaim lower energy use and increase sales by way of IMO, duping people into thinking they’re saving the environment, you have the low temps that you see discussed on here. To mimic the same effect the wash time is extended to achieve the same result (maybe!!) through a longer mechanical action.

Like I told you, smoke and mirrors, it’s all illusion.

Worse now as you’ll see a lot of them with completely dumbed down programs like “Cottons” and “Synthetics” and tells you no more than that. The user hasn’t a clue what it’s doing.

Alfa it depends what machine you had whether it was a true hot and cold fill but, I strongly expect that you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes there. Don’t feel bad about it, you’re far from alone as most people have been under the same illusion for years, some decades.

All old UK machines (primarily Hotpoint & Hoover) just opened both taps and filled with whatever it got. Zero intelligence.

All the rest, most EU and so on would fill with cold once only after initial pre-wash on a full hot cycle, they would not use hot at any other point at all.

In any event the net effect of such machines filling with hot is, at best, negligible in virtually every case.

I’ve been trying to explain this to people for thirty years, almost the whole of my career and still you get the entrenched opinion that, even although I know absolutely what is happening and how this works that somehow I’m wrong and that hot fill is a magical benefit to them. It isn’t, never has been.

K.

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Yes John, people do that as well! 😕

It’s mad to be honest.

You fire up the boiler in most many homes and burn a ton of energy to get hot water at the tap, to fill the machine with a few litres to save what energy?

In a modern pressurised tank the hot water will remain hot for a long time as the system is designed that way so, all you do is fill the pipework with hot water, the energy (heat) dissipates to atmosphere and lost. The same happens on other wet systems.

The energy use its the energy use, doesn’t matter how you do it other than trying to use the most efficient method and, that’s not it.

Gets worse though and I’ll give you a common example I’ve seen a number of times.

A chap was banging on about this one day so I asked him what machine he had, it was an LG washer.

His wife and himself ran the hot water till it was actually hot in the utility room, he thought they ran off about three or four litres till that happened so, he’d filled the pipework with that amount of hot plus the loss of energy while it got up to temp. Ignoring the needless waste of water of course. Oh and the standing water in the boiler, let’s not forget that as well as that needs to heat a well.

Then they put on the machine.

So I asked what wash programs he used.

They only used the 40 and 60 washes.

Both on the machine were cold fill only, they never used hot water at all.

So all that they were doing for over five years was pumping up their energy bill completely needlessly and wasting both copious amounts of energy and water.

The biggest laugh being that they had absolutely no clue and swore the machine washed better and faster even although neither were true.

That sort of thing is far more common that you can probably imagine, people often simply do not understand what they’re doing.

People can invent all manners of Heath Robinson solutions and they have to try to get around the physics involved but in the end, the physics is the physics and there’s no getting around it.

K.

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I think even I can see that there’s only one pipe feeding water into our washing machine and that it’s connected to the cold supply! I suppose some people have never looked under the sink.

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We are all defensive of our entrenched ideas even when proven incorrect – we have to go through all the thought processes that led to our own conclusion to see where the flaw was.

This thought process is important. We often take time and effort to reach a particular conclusion, and then someone makes a suggestion that seems to be contrary to what you had decided, and seems sensible. Only after, when you sit down and recount your logic towards your own decision do you realise you were correct; it can sometimes be too late.

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If you heat the relatively small amount of water in your modern washing machine to do, say, a 40 wash the cost of the electricity will be but a very few pence. Offset the cheaper option of using gas to heat your hot tank, but allowing for the wasted heat from residual hot water sitting in the copper feed pipe, and this just seems to me to be an academic issue with no significant economic cost. So just use cold fill, I would suggest. Unless you have surplus hot water generated by your solar panels that would otherwise go to waste. I expect someone else has said this elsewhere.

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Oh dear. Because someone does not understand whether their washing machine is taking in hot or cold water, the implication is that we are all ignorant. 🙁 My old machine took in both hot and cold water on a 60°C wash, but I got into the habit of turning off the cold tap during the initial fill. The main reason I did this is because I had extremely hard water and wanted to prolong the life of the internal heater. It never failed in 34 years but that might just have been luck.

Malcolm mentions entrenched attitudes and thought processes. That reminds me of when I was teaching science. I sometimes covered common errors found in textbooks and other learning resources. This a good way of encouraging students to question what they were told. Particularly when teaching biomedical science students, I encountered some students that had read about a topic in considerable depth, possibly because they or a member of their family suffered from a genetic disease or an enzyme deficiency. Teaching works in both directions and learning may or may not occur in the process.

Maybe we could have a discussion about the technical aspects of district heating.

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I didn’t say everyone was ignorant nor imply it.

What I said was that a good many people do not understand how these machines work yet hold a belief on how they do. This is borne out in practice, repeatedly.

Whilst you may go to extreme lengths as described most people won’t, they’ll just turn it on and let it do its thing in the expectation that it will work as advertised or believed. After all, the clue is in the name, automatic washing machine, without the need for such a manual interaction which is not use as intended.

K.

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Whilst I don’t wish to get into an argument, our old w/m was a Bosch, and it did take in hot water cause I opened the drawer and felt it.

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Oh there’s no argument from me alfa at all. I can only tell people what I know.

Bosch, insofar as I am aware always followed the usual EU type affair where they would fill with hot on the hot wash, once after prewash and at no other time was hot drawn. This was standard practice across the EU until cold fill was adopted as the norm and hot fill dropped for the reasons I hope I’ve explained well enough.

There may have been models that acted differently but I am unaware of any that did.

K.

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I am sure this point has been answered earlier but, just in case, if your property is on a district heating scheme, and supplied with gas and electricity for normal use, are you prevented from installing your own heating system if you do not wish to subscribe to the central system? Or are the economics of the central system protected by forcing all those involved to take part?

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I was thinking more about the technical issues, much like the debate about hot & cold fill vs cold fill. I cannot imagine that the increased efficiency of district heating applies in the summer when most people don’t want heating but someone does.

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Barrie Mason says:
27 July 2017

I look after an elderly man with alzheimers and deal with his financial affairs, 3 Months ago the heating system & hot water switched to a company called Vital energy when I have received the first bill it came to £54.73 ex vat. I was amazed to see that £45.00 of this was a standing charge which amounts to a daily standing charge of 50p per day, from the comments on this debate it seems quite common and appears to be another way of charging without redress the most vulnerable people in society, how can they get away with it or am I missing a VITAL point ? completely gobsmacked !

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Barrie-Vital Energy/Vital management services are a large company looking after buildings , communal heating systems etc . If you look at their website you can see why they are charging high standing charges -top heavy. The problem with those systems is that the contracts are so open and one-sided they can practically do what they want . The contract is with the council not you which makes it worse , you are sent a Letter of Intent on price increases , going by the latest news and a website relating to government future policy they are right behind it–IMO due to you losing control of how to heat your home and giving control to their business friends, it certainly isn’t in the customers favour no matter how much bull is said about “green energy ” /energy saving (for them not your pocket .

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Barrie, I can appreciate your concern over the standing charges at a daily rate of 50p, but to my mind £55 [+ VAT] for ninety days heating and hot water does not seem too bad compared with other district heating schemes or communal heating services, even for a part-summer quarter. I should be interested to know what VAT rate they are charging. Gas and Electricity are charged at the lowest permitted VAT rate of 5% and I would expect that to apply to your client’s energy, but is there a service element that is charged at the normal VAT rate of 20%? That might be something worth checking on.