Archive for November, 2013

This is the second post in a series on DH. The first can be found here.

As I mentioned in my previous post, cost of heat on DH schemes is directly tied to system efficiency. The more efficient the system, the less fuel is needed to meet the heat requirements of the customers. And of course the reverse is also true: lower efficiency means higher cost of heat. This relationship between efficiency and cost is hugely important: it’s real cash, coming from residents to pay their heating bills and from the landlord or ESCO to pay the fuel bill.

In fact, I’d go as far as saying that efficiency is the single most important issue for DH schemes. This post explains why efficiency matters so much.



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District heating (DH) has become a common strategy for new developments to reduce carbon in order to satisfy planners and meet building regs. But despite its prevalence, in the UK we frequently get district heating wrong.

Most of what we do at work relates to DH in one way or another. At Insite we provide meter reading and customer care to several thousand people on district heating schemes. We take residents’ calls, help clients set tariffs and assess efficiency data, among other things. At Fontenergy (one of Insite’s two parent companies) we’ve project managed the design and install of DH networks and we operate centralised plant for ourselves and others. In our efforts to get DH right, we once even imported one of the best DH contractors from Denmark and worked with them to install a network in North London.

When it’s done right, DH is a cost-effective strategy for delivering low carbon heat. What’s more, it’s an essential technology for decarbonising heat in the UK (mainly because relying entirely on the theoretical decarbonisation of the grid in order to electrify heat is nuts, but that’s another post). The reality is we need DH, but often we don’t do it right.


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I was at a conference last week on smart metering in Cambridge. A guy from Anglian water reminded us all that the water network in England and Wales loses 3.36Bn litres of water each day due to leaks. That sounds like a lot – is it?

If the average person in the UK uses 150 litres per day, that means we’re losing enough clean, pure water for 22.4 million people every day. There’s only 56m people in England and Wales, so that’s enough water for around 40% of the population!

I’m stunned.

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