New heat network regulations demand meter retrofits for thousands of housing association, local authority and managing agent properties
17th November 2020
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Insite Energy warns heat suppliers about potential pitfalls as they embrace new rules to comply with the latest amendments to the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations.

Following the announcement of amendments to the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations on November 6th, heat suppliers to properties connected to heat networks – such as housing associations, local authority landlords and managing agents – will be required to retrofit heat metering devices, where it is cost-effective and technically feasible to do so, by September 2022. They must also bill individual consumers based on their actual energy consumption.

Within just 12 months (by November 2021), heat suppliers must have completed initial assessments to classify their buildings according to the legislation and show which meter type they will install.

The legislation, which comes into force on November 27th 2020, is estimated to affect between 84,000 and 97,000 properties in the UK, with the aim of facilitating fairer billing, reduced energy consumption and heating system efficiency improvements. It has been law to install heat meters in new build heat network properties since 2014.

Insite Energy, a provider of heat network metering, billing and payment services, advises heat suppliers avoid any delay in planning for the financial, operational and resource implications of achieving compliance.

“It is good news that the government has extended its proposed six-month implementation timeframe to 21 months, although it is still ambitious and we recommend landlords make early assessments of their building portfolio,” says Insite Energy’s managing director, Anthony Coates-Smith. “The sooner you know the extent to which your estate is affected by the regulations, the longer you have to understand and specify the different technologies on offer. Heat metering is not something to rush. It may, for example, save money in the long term to undertake complementary metering and heat network upgrades, such as the installation of low-cost pay-as-you-go solutions, at the same time as the mandated work. We’ve seen in the past how hasty and purely Capex-focussed purchasing decisions can result in equipment lasting just five years before needing it all needs replacing,” says Anthony Coates-Smith.

Financing retrofit work is a concern among Insite Energy’s clients, despite the regulations’ feasibility assessment, which is designed to ensure only properties with a maximum 10-year payback period for the cost of the metering works are affected. “We’ve been waiting for this legislation for some years, and even though the cost of implementation can be spread over two financial years, it will still come to many as an inconvenient and unbudgeted surprise,” continues Anthony Coates-Smith. “Our message to landlords and residents’ organisations is, if you don’t have the funds or have other financial pressures, we can help with financing.”

“Where technical and cost assessments, and remedial installations, are required, we urge heat suppliers to select only experienced contractors with suitable references in the field of installing heat metering and meter reading solutions. Aim to get it right first time,” concludes Anthony Coates-Smith.

Insite Energy is offering heat suppliers immediate support in executing building class categorisations and desktop feasibility assessments, with further on-site technical and cost-effectiveness assessments where required. It also installs of metering devices and offers metering and billing services, as well as maintenance services.

Image / Image – From September 2022, heat suppliers will need to bill residents for their individual energy consumption, and they will be required to retrofit heat metering devices, where it is cost-effective and technically feasible to do so.

Image – Anthony Coates-Smith, Managing Director, Insite Energy.

About Insite Energy

London-based Insite Energy is a specialist in providing metering, billing and payment services to customers connected to communal and district heating networks, providing end-to-end services across the life of housing and commercial developments.

Insite’s energy analysts and metering specialists can help heat providers to ensure they comply with all relevant legislations and regulations, and that they maximise the payback on their metering and billing investments. Services include; debt management, tariff setting, reviews and benchmarking, fuel procurement, metering best practice advice, advice on measuring energy efficiency, as well as resident communications. www.insite-energy.co.uk

About the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

Here is an article on the Insite Energy website that explains the regulations, and implications for heat suppliers, in more detail: https://insite-energy.co.uk/blog/insite-energys-view-latest-heat-network-metering-and-billing-amendment-regulations-2020