Heat network cost planning involves the assessment of various factors.
What is heat network zoning?
A heat network zone is a designated area in which heat networks are the lowest cost, low carbon solution for decarbonising heating in an area. Within a zone, certain types of building must connect to their local heat network in a certain timeframe.
How does a heat network work?
A district heat network is a supply of heat from a central source to consumers, through a network of underground pipes carrying hot water. Heat networks can cover a large area or even an entire city, or be reduced and fairly local, supplying a small cluster of buildings.
What is a communal heat network?
A communal heat network is the supply of heat and hot water, from one source (most commonly known as the energy centre), to a number of customers within one building. A communal heat network involves one building only. The source often consists of a large boiler in the basement of a building with the heat and hot water distributed through the building via a series of pipes.
Are heat networks regulated?
Heat networks are regulated. If a building supplies heating, cooling or hot water to tenants via a heat network, they will likely be affected by The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations. These regulations were launched in 2014 and updated in November 2020 with new obligations and terms for heat suppliers.
How does a HIU work?
A HIU (heat interface unit) is essentially a box that looks somewhat like a boiler. It transfers heat from a community heat network into your home’s central heating system. It means that heat is available on demand, whenever it’s required throughout the day. You simply set your thermostat and heating programmer, as with a traditional boiler.
What is heat supply?
A heat supply is essentially what it says on the tin, a supply of heat. You’d never know would you! Sometimes referred to as district heating, it is a distribution system of insulated pipes that takes heat from a central source through to a number of domestic or non-domestic buildings.
A heat supply is the provision of heat to residential, public, and industrial buildings. It is designed and structured to meet customers’ residential and industrial needs. This includes heating, ventilation, and hot-water supply.
What is a heat supplier?
A heat supplier is any person or organisation that supplies heating, cooling or hot water to customers through a heat network and charges for it. A heat supplier is different from a fuel supplier.
How do ground source heat pumps work?
A ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a pump that transfers heat generated from the ground into buildings. Naturally, radiation from the sun heats the earth – it is absorbed and stored there.
The earth stores the heat and maintains it, as little as two metres or so down. It maintains a temperature of around 10°C even throughout the winter. It is worth considering that in ground source pumps, the fairly consistent temps only 2m down would be used for a horizontal loop. However vertical ground source boreholes are 60m+, so the 2m hole wouldn’t be the case for a lot of properties.
A ground source heat pump uses fluid to absorb heat from the ground. Using electricity, the fluid is compressed and raised to a higher temperature. The heat is then sent to radiators or underfloor heating, with the remainder stored in a hot water cylinder. Stored hot water can be used for showers, baths and taps. Heat pumps can also provide cooling (air conditioning) as well as heating.
The benefits of using ground source heat pumps are that you can gain financial aid to install them (as they are considered more environmentally friendly), they are an efficient way of heating a building and they cut heating and ventilation costs down. However, they do involve an expensive installation cost, construction can be disruptive to the ground and environment and they are not suited to every type of building. They operate at lower temperatures, so it needs to be considered that houses should be well insulated.
How do heat pumps work in the UK?
Heat pumps work well in the UK, despite many thinking they may not work as well with the lower temperatures of our island. Technical data gathered from many installations of heat pumps in the UK suggests that well installed and operated heat pumps perform to a very high standard.
Heat pumps are cheaper to run than other systems, for example those that are based on combustion. The more energy efficient the systems, the greater long term savings on energy. In 2022, with sky high energy prices that are only continuing to rise, it is worth considering this type of energy. Prices of ground source heat pumps average around £25-30K for a typical family home, and if you can afford the initial cost, this eco-friendly investment can help you save up to £1,400 per year.
Air Source Heat Pumps
Air source heat pumps work in the same way, but use the heat from air instead of the ground. They are less efficient than well commissioned ground source pumps in colder climates because air temp fluctuates much more (and in winter when the most heat is demanded would be when air source pumps are least efficient).
However, air source heat pumps are far cheaper to install because there isn’t the need to excavate the ground source heat loop. This being said, the cost isn’t insignificant. Ground source loops if installed vertically can be really expensive, but to do it horizontally in the ground requires a substantial garden space, so it wouldn’t be an option for a lot of houses.