How can housing providers reduce the impact of rising energy bills for tenants?

It is without doubt a difficult time for socially responsible landlords who are currently weighing up the impact of rising energy bills on tenants’ tariffs on top of the massive cost of living increases that we’ve all experienced. This predicament poses some important questions.
How much of the energy increase do we pass on?
How many of our tenants will move into fuel poverty as a result of this? Is the cheapest gas supply deal from the most ethical source?

Quite rightly the focus is on reducing the impact on tenants of rising gas prices, however we must not lose sight of the fact that improving energy efficiency remains the most important factor going forward. This is especially true on our decarbonisation journey to net zero.

Thankfully there is an opportunity for housing providers with heat networks to make a difference before the large winter bills arrive, however the work must begin now.

Causes of inefficiency

Many ‘legacy’ heat networks are inefficient due to ineffective maintenance or design and installation issues. Heat networks should be viewed as a whole network rather than as collection of individual components. The heat network needs to operate as one organism.
Unfortunately, most maintenance contractors focus on the symptom of a problem rather than the cause. I’ll give you an example, an HIU valve is replaced on a call out because the tenant is not getting heating or hot water. It’s the tenth valve that’s been replaced this year. The replacement valve ‘fixes’ the problem. Unfortunately, no one has asked why the valves are ‘failing’, the focus is on fixing the symptom rather than identifying the cause.

In this instance the plant room pumps have been turned up to such a degree that the pressure difference at the HIU is breaking the valves. The plant room and the flats are maintained by two different sets of engineers working for the same contractor. They do not see a system, they see components and focus on their specific area.

How does this effect efficiency?

In this instance there were 130 flats on of a scheme of 200 flats that were bypassing flow with no demand and the valves were not able to fully close due to high system differential pressure. The effects were:

1. The bypass was being metered in the flats and the tenants were paying for this (approx. £20 per year).
2. The bypass rate in each flat equalled 500 litres an hour, 18 hours a day (accounting for 6 hours heating and hot water demand per day) which equals 9000 litres per day.
3. That’s 3.2 million litres per flat per year and 427 million litres per year on the scheme. To put that into focus that is 170 Olympic sized swimming pools of water running unnecessarily around a heat network every year.

What’s the impact of this?

This impacts significantly on central plant OPEX costs, with increased plant room wear and tear, increased levels of unplanned reactive maintenance call outs and most importantly impacts on the customer experience and welfare of the tenants.

The pumps and boilers were operating outside of their design criteria and will fail sooner than planned and all of the HIU valves will fail at some point.

What can be done?

If you read this far, I thank you. It shows that you care about this and like me you believe in our mission to make a real difference to people’s lives and reduce fuel poverty.

We can identify the root causes of heat network inefficiency and help you correct them.

Each heat network is an island, each operates differently to the next one and no two schemes are identical even on identical buildings because they are not set up or used in the same way.

The only way to improve efficiency is to target schemes with high energy use and produce optimisation studies that identify real actions required to produce energy efficiency improvements.


We have provided technical studies for a number HNES (Heat Network Efficiency Scheme) optimisation studies on the initial BEIS demonstrator scheme. It is likely that BEIS will role this scheme out again possibly in April 2023 together with a matched capital funding scheme.

So, the BIG question is, do you wait for the launch of ‘possible’ optimisation grants in 2023 and use these optimisation studies to apply for matched funding?
Or do you do something now, something that will impact on your tenants’ bills this winter? In my view you need a plan of action. This could look something like this:
1. Conduct an independent desktop review of every heat network.
2. Identify the schemes that have high energy use and use other industry recognised performance metrics to identify individual heat network issues (failing HIU’s, bypasses etc).
3. Procure optimisation studies on each of these schemes from Heat Network Consultants that are listed on CIBSE’s search for a specialist Heat Network Consultant register ( )
4. Act on their recommendations.
5. Verify and acceptance test the work completed.

We are happy to help you on this journey and if you truly want to make an impact on fuel bills, we recommend that you take action now rather than later.

Please make contact if you believe the same.


Alistair Moore
CIBSE Certified Heat Network Consultant
Mobile: 07501 512139
Email: [email protected]

HNC 206012

Happy 1st Birthday Fresh Heat Networks!

Why Fresh?

When it comes to installing new build and retrofit heat networks the needs of the client and their customers can sometimes take a back seat to the installation process. I started Fresh with the aim of redressing the balance by putting the client’s needs first and driving everything else to make this a reality. Creating and maintaining efficient, low carbon heat networks that enable people to live in homes they can afford to heat.

The ‘why’ is vitally important to me and it drives everything we do.

I have found that heat networks tend to get procured and installed in ‘packages’ and the final installation usually misses the client’s original design brief. I believe that this ultimately lets clients and their tenants down.

I see our role as working as part of your team to help make sense of heat networks while upholding the best interests of you and your tenants at all times.

If you believe the same then please make contact.


Alistair Moore
Technical Director

CIBSE Certified Heat Network Consultant
Mobile: 07501 512139
Email: [email protected]

HNC 206012

New client assignment- June 2021

We are pleasedto announce that we have been awarded the contract to audit three heat networks for Gateshead Council.

Heat Network performance audits are the best way of identifying potential efficiencyand carbon savings.

We truly believe in providing the best possible service to clients and their tenants, creating and maintaining efficient low carbon, heat networks that help reduce fuel poverty.

If you want to hear how we can help you make sense of heat networks then please make contact.


Alistair Moore
Technical Director

CIBSE Certified Heat Network Consultant
Mobile: 07501 512139
Email: [email protected]

HNC 206012

Client Bulletin – May 2021
Code of Practice for Heat Networks CP1: 2020
‘Overall responsibility for implementing the Code rests with the client’.

Which HIU is best for my project?

We get asked this question more than any other and at the risk of sounding a little pedantic, without
knowing your needs it’s impossible to recommend anything. That’s why ‘copy and paste’
specifications just aren’t good enough and ultimately are not in your best interests.

At Fresh Heat Networks we believe that you and your tenants deserve the very best efficient, low
cost, low carbon heat networks that help reduce fuel poverty.

Before we get on to HIU’s it’s worth understanding the principles of heat network efficiency.

The Flats

Heat network efficiency is governed by the level of effective control that you have within each flat. The
flat side demand management dictates the heat network return temperature and in turn the efficiency
of the whole heat network. This is based around the hierarchy of heat principle (see below). What
happens in the flat dictates the performance of the whole heat network.

How do we gain effective control within the flats?

One method is to have a demand driven HIU within the flat that only takes the exact amount of
resource it needs from the heat network. It is vitally important that tenants also have a user friendly
method of heating temperature control and that they are shown how to use this.

So, which is the best HIU for my scheme?

We have reviewed every HIU that has passed the BESA test with a VWART (efficiency rating) of less
than 33ºC as specified in CIBSE’s Heat Networks Code of Practice CP1 2020. We have compared
each of these against a list of fifty metrics. These include HIU functionality, guarantee, service level,
reliability, HIU CAPEX, OPEX costs, remote connectivity, remote monitoring and optimisation
capabilities, billing platform hardware integration and whether they will automatically adjust
themselves to suit lower heat network operating temperatures.

The process to identifying the best HIU

We define your needs by asking the following questions:

1. What is your decarbonisation plan?
2. What level of connectivity and remote visibility you need?
3. What level of remote assistance and commissioning do you need?
4. What communication method best suits the project (wireless, wired Lan, modBus, 2G)?
5. Who is the preferred billing system hardware provider?
6. What HIU functionality do you need (we can help you identify these)?
7. Which HIU’s with a VWART below 33 (CP1 2020) meet all of the above criteria?

Once we define your needs we will produce a short list of HIU’s that meet your requirements,
highlighting the key features and benefits of each.

This process will essentially reduce the contractors opportunity to ‘value engineer’ because you will
be aware of which HIU’s meet your needs on this particular project.

We want to help you become empowered to make the right decision based on yours and your tenants

If you want to discuss this further please make contact.


Alistair Moore
Technical Director

CIBSE Certified Heat Network Consultant
Mobile: 07501 512139
Email: [email protected]

HNC 206012

The heat metering and billing regulations 2014 have changed. The Heat Networks Metering and Billing regulations 2020 were put before Parliament and came into force on 27.11.20.

The cost effectiveness tool has also been launched –
Key points:

  • Transitional period for heat network operators to implement the changes is 21 months to install metering devices and comply with the regulations. This will be over two summers to reduce the impact on existing heat networks.
  • It was originally thought that clients would have surveys to determine whether it was cost effective to install energy meters on ‘Open Class’ properties. The cost of doing this is estimated to be £60- £90 per flat. Therefore it’s likely that clients will fit a new energy meter rather than use the cost effectiveness tool.
  • With Brexit and the increase in demand it is expected that the cost of energy meters will increase as will the cost of fitting them. We can review your energy meter suppliers and procurement process – Please contact us for further information.

The following three building classes have been created:


Fresh Heat Networks 10 Watermark Way, Foxholes Business Park, Hertford, Hertfordshire SG13 7TZ. United Kingdom.  Tel: 07501 512139 Email: [email protected]

Metering & Billing Regulations 2020
The Cost effectiveness tool for the above regulations has been launched and the
spreadsheet is available here –

This allows heat network operators to calculate whether installing energy meters is viable on ‘Open Class’ buildings.

The tool itself requires the input of accurate data.
‘Where cost-effectiveness assessments have established a duty to install metering devices, heat suppliers must carry out this installation work in line with the timelines stipulated in the legislation. The results of this work must be reported to OPSS.

The cost-effectiveness tool was built to aid heat suppliers in their determination of costeffectiveness. Two versions are available: the reduced input tool (where energy consumption is known and a quote for metering installation costs is available)’. Where meters are installed, they must be used to bill the tenant based upon their individual consumption.

I have entered a large number of scenarios in the calculator and I’m happy to discuss your requirements further.


Telephone: 07501 512139
Email: [email protected]