/ Home & Energy, Sustainability

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?


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.

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!

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

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.

Hi Jonathan. I’ve just landed in an identical situation. What was the outcome of yours? Thanks

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.

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.

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.



Hello Steve Wyatt
I hope this reaches you. I am with E.on and I have a case right now with the Energy Ombudsman. I would dearly like to learn the outcome of your ombudsman Investigation ?

Hi Ams,

I’ve recently made an offer on a property in Drayton Garden Village and would really appreciate hearing more of your experience? Have things improved since the development was built or are you still seeing steep consumption charges from Eon?

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 .

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.

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]

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]

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.

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

It’s a washer/dryer so yes it does

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.

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.


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?


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


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.

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.

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.


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.

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. 🙂

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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?

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.

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 !

This comment was removed at the request of the user

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.

Bill says:
22 March 2018

The developers are also cashing in on this and adding a margin on top of the service charges. The one source of energy being flexible is rubbish, as consumer, you can pick what source energy you like e.g Eco If you want less CO2 , we should use battery packs and not being sold to buyers that district heating is cheaper.

Also to note you are govern by their plumber which are large companies with rubbish customer care. You are asked to wait a whole day for them to do a service. In a small block approx. 50 people need to wait.

we are being charged £1 per day inc for standing. My old flat with its own boiler with usage was about £30.

hiu says:
22 May 2018

Hi everyone that is connected to district heating networks, the costs that you see on your bills that are under service charge bracket are the cost associated with keeping the system in working order.
has a end user you are entitled to a annual service of your unit that is inclusive of your service charge, if you think that your consumption is going up without you using the system you are with in your rights to call your provider and get them to investigate and this will come under your service charge, but you cannot change provider its down to your freeholder or landlord to take that decision.
hope this helps.

Bill Carroll says:
15 February 2019

I own my property and the Scottish Government paid to have a district heating system installed 6 years ago to save money and reduce carbon . I have found the system to be a great improvement to the
previous heating system . The problem is that SSE the provider refuse
to face up to their responsibilities when anything goes wrong and
diagnose the problem over the phone and then refuse to come out . SSE have also unilaterally changed the contract to suit themselves which ido not agree with and I am fighting just now

We moved into a new house a few months ago, and the developers have just doubled our biomass community heat costs from 6p kWh to 11.5p per kWh. If anyone has had any success overcoming this sort of situation, please tell me what you did. Thank you!

Marian says:
12 June 2019

District heating systems badly need effective regulation to protect customers who are unable to seek competitive supplies and have to pay substantive administration charges. After a year without hot water we were told by the landlord’s managing agent that the hiu within the leasehold flat we’re buying would have to be replaced at our own cost and since then, despite providing the Shipley based metering company with all the details we are still receiving estimated bills, half of which incidentally appear to be for administration. BEIS, which seems to sponsor the district heating initiative, is totally dis-interested in complaints and is failing to address the issue. When we bought the flat we were told the heat would be provided from renewable sources but not so. The captive audience issue badly needs addressing both in consideration of heat regulation and in leasehold reform. I despair!

We are forced on Eon Heat and the price are extortionate. We have an EPC rating of B for our flat, but regularly are charged ridiculous prices for heating. As well, we were away for 3 weeks with everything switched off and our bill barely changed.

Jay south west says:
1 March 2020

I am part of an Eon district heating network providing hot water and heat to homes built by Redrow. The housebuilder is forced by the council under an initiative given by national government, that they must use district heating. Every aspect of the implementation seems either involve companies or regulatory bodies washing their hands of any responsibility for this white elephant, or using it to make money at the expense of their clients (its unregulated and the so called overseeing body/ombudsman, The Heat Trust – a ridiculously biased organisation – will not discuss pricing, although they will engage regarding customer service).

I gather in mainland Europe its a huge success, but here in blighty, lets face it, we don’t do cost effective infrastructure. The price for heating our home is eye watering and goes up at an alarming rate each year. You need to be an expert regarding energy use, kwH and standing charges to be able to make sense of the marketing blurb. During a very stressful time when you exchange homes, one takes a lot on trust as you are bombarded with information, but sadly this trust has been trodden on in favour of big fat profits, and ensuring I will never touch district heating, Eon or Redrow again. It has left a sour taste in my mouth and demonstrates that if you leave a company to decide for itself how to set its prices, you will get the results you have here. Oh sure, Eon have a formula for calculating its prices but you would need to be Einstein to make sense of it. District heating is best avoided while the energy companies have contracts for decades at a time and are not price regulated. Do not trust any of the so called overseeing bodies, they are biased towards the home builder, and do not take for granted any marketing blub you get from the housebuilder, they just want to flog houses and do not care about you..

Is there evidence to show that with the heat loss through piping, a district central heat system is more efficient and cost effective than separate house boilers?
Is the source of the heat critical in this calculation? Waste heat from manufacturing processes might be used but is not generally available. Employees have to maintain and run the system. The hot water has to be on constantly regardless of the weather.. Turning it off in the house/flat doesn’t reduce the cost of providing it though the meter reading will reduce for the householder.
The heat supplier is at liberty to charge what it wants and the householder has little bargaining power or the option to look elsewhere for a supply.
If the system fails, it fails for everyone. If it is too cold or hot, that is the case for the whole system. If the temperature fluctuates this means a constant alteration of house controls to compensate. Hot water and heating have to be separated so each can be managed independently of the other in the house. One wouldn’t want radiator water coming from the taps and if a heat exchanger was used, this would need the heating to be on to create the hot water or vice versa.
It’s an interesting concept for new builds, but virtually impossible for the rest of us, and I would not like to be tied to a supplier who could dictate the inevitable frequent price rises at a whim.

It would be interesting to be able to compare Jay’s heating & hot water bills with those for a similar property not on a district heating scheme. The comparator property would have to have the same volume, form of construction, insulation values and household structure, but I doubt it would be difficult to find such an example within the same geographical area [so that climatic conditions would be the same].

Ignoring the district heating element, modern [post 2000] houses are much more economical to keep warm than earlier properties so I presume, in Jay’s case with “eye-watering” costs, the district heating scheme is actually neutralising that advantage. I think the residents would be well served by an expert analysis to see whether the design or the engineering [or both] are wrong and make a case against Redrow for possible misrepresentation.

There is nothing wrong in principle with heating multiple homes from a central source. I presume that most or all of those who have posted in this and the other Convo on district heating have no choice but to use the district heating scheme provided.

If those owning or renting homes have no choice of where to buy energy from there is the opportunity for dissatisfaction and exploitation by the company that is protected from competition. If no-one is going to take any action I guess that dissatisfaction will continue. I wonder how many people are happy with district heating schemes. We tend to hear about problems.