Frequently asked questions
1. About heat networks
What is a heat network?
A heat network is a system of insulated pipes that transports hot water from a central source (or multiple sources) to multiple buildings, where it’s used to provide heating and hot water to residents and business in each building.
Heating networks can range in size from a few hundred metres of pipe, supplying just a few homes, to several kilometres supplying heat and hot water to multiple buildings in a development. They provide a more efficient way of heating our homes and businesses by using a larger central heating source instead of lots of small individual heating systems.
How many heat networks are there in the UK?
The UK government maintains a database of registered heat networks in the UK. In 2015, there were just under 14,000 heat networks serving nearly 480,000 customers. The UK government is investing in heat networks because they provide a reliable and efficient way of heating homes and businesses, and are important in moving to a stronger energy system that used low carbon sources. Up to five million homes could be on a heat network by 2030.
Can I switch energy supplier if I don’t want to be on a heat network?
For a heat network to maximise its potential, it provides heating and hot water (and in some cases cooling) to all the properties in a development. This means that there is one heat network operator for the development and so you can’t switch to a different supplier for heat. However, your electricity is separate and you can choose your electricity supplier.
We’re committed to providing an excellent service to all our customers and have guaranteed service standards. If we fail to meet these, we compensate you.
In addition, we have registered with Heat Trust – an independent customer protection scheme that ensure the service we deliver is in line with the rest of the energy market. This includes access to the Energy Ombudsman.
What is a heat interface unit (HIU)?
A heat interface unit (HIU) is a unit that looks a bit like a boiler. On a heat network, the HIU brings hot water from the main heat network into the heating system in your home. Both your heating and hot water are available on demand, and you can control when you want your heating to come on by setting your heating controls in your home.
Will I have to pay if my heat interface unit (HIU) breaks?
No, your heating charges cover all repairs and maintenance so you’ll never have to pay anything extra.
What is a heat meter?
There is a heat meter inside the HIU. It measures how much heat energy you use. Heat is measured in kilowatt hours, shown as kWh on your statement. You can view how many kWh of energy you’ve using by logging into your customer account.
Who’s responsible for my equipment?
- We’re responsible for your HIU and smart meter.
- You (or your landlord) are responsible for all internal pipes, thermostats, radiators and water outlets – in the same way you would be if using a boiler.
If you have a problem with your heating and hot water and you’re unsure who’s responsible, please call our customer care team – they’ll be happy to help.
Is the equipment safe?
We have a team of experienced heating engineers to keep your heating equipment working safely and efficiently. if you do have any problems then a professional is on hand to help. We carry out regular maintenance checks to make sure that your equipment remains safe, and to prevent issues before they occur.
Will I have a boiler in my home?
No, your home has an HIU (heat interface unit) instead of a boiler. It looks similar and you’ll usually find it in a cupboard. We provide an all-inclusive service and take care of all serving and maintenance for the HIU.
Do you provide my electricity too?
No, we only provide your heat and hot water. You have a separate electricity provider.
Who is the regulator?
The heat network industry doesn’t have the same regulation as other utilities, such as gas and electricity. New statutory regulation is being developed by the government and Ofgem, who will become the GB heat network regulator once new regulations have been developed.
Meanwhile, the Heat Trust is the independent customer protection scheme for heat networks. It sets out minimum customer service standards that heat suppliers should provide their customers. It also requires suppliers to provide customers access to the Energy Ombudsman.
Vattenfall Heat UK is a member of the Heat Trust and works closely with the scheme, demonstrating our commitment to providing you with this level of quality and protection. You can find out more about Heat Trust here: www.heattrust.org
Why is a heat network better?
By living in a property on a heat network, you’re working towards fossil freedom, and helping to improve the environment for future generations. All our heat networks use either low or zero carbon heat sources. This includes capturing waste heat from the surrounding air, water, transport, sewage, or industrial plants to help heat your homes and provide hot water.
2. Moving in and out of your home
What’s a heat supply agreement?
A heat supply agreement is a legal contract between you and Vattenfall Heat UK, setting out the terms of our service about how we’ll provide heating and hot water to your property. It states what protections are in place if we miss meeting any of our service standards and the compensation you could receive. It also sets out the actions we need you to take to ensure we can deliver our service to you, and your agreement to pay your heat charges when they’re due.
It’s an important document that you should read carefully.
Setting up your account
When you move into your home, you’ll find a welcome letter and welcome pack waiting for you. These will include details about how to set up your customer account online. Or, if you prefer, you can call our customer care team and they will happily help create your account for you and arrange how you will pay for heating and hot water. We also have a mobile app that you can download so you can manage your account from your phone.
When you move out your home
If you’re moving out, please complete our moving out form (link) and send it to us at least 14 days before you leave so we can close your account on time. Alternatively, please call our customer care team (link to contact us) who can complete this for you.
3. Paying your bill
How do I pay?
We’ve made it quick and easy to pay. The most popular method is to set up a monthly direct debit which ensures you make a regular payment each month. When you move into your home, you can create a customer account online and set up your direct debit. Then, we’ll take care of everything else.
Some customers chose a pay-as-you-go option where they add credit to their account in advance, in the same way as a pay-as-you-go phone.
If you’re struggling to pay a bill, or you have a query about it, please contact us as soon as possible on 08081433633 and we’ll do our best to help, including offering a repayment plan where suitable.
If you need independent advice, we recommend getting in touch with one of these organisations:
Citizens Advice – free advice and information on customer bills, debt and other topics.
Step Change – free support for financially vulnerable customers.
Money Advice Trust – free, unbiased and easy to access money tools, information and advice.
What is pay-as-you-go (PAYG)?
If you’re a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) customer, you pay for your energy use in advance by adding credit to your account. It’s like having a PAYG mobile contract or Oyster card in London.
We’ve designed our PAYG option with your convenience in mind. It makes paying for your heating easy, flexible and transparent. Your Smart Meter helps you monitor your usage and control exactly what you spend.
You can check your account any time by logging into your account and can add credit at any time.. You’ll also receive an annual statement detailing how much energy was used and what it cost.
Try to always keep your smart meter in credit, to avoid any temporary suspension to your heating/hot water supply. We provide £5 emergency credit that kicks in if you run out of credit. This is paid back when you next top-up.
How do I top up on PAYG?
- Online or over the phone, You can top-up anytime –using your online account or our dedicated payment line.
- Paypoint – if you prefer to pay for your heating and hot water in person, or you like to use cash, you can use your Paypoint card (received when registered) to make cash payments at local shops and supermarket.
How’s my bill calculated? What am I paying for?
|Unit cost of heat (pence per kWh)
|Number of kWh used during the day and night (measured by your meter)
|Daily fixed charge (pence per day)
What’s the fixed charge?
This is a fixed amount that’s charged each month to each property. To provide reliable heating all year round, we need to monitor and maintain the heat network carefully. The fixed charge covers:
- Energy centre and network repair and maintenance.
- Maintenance and replacement of the heating equipment.
- Our administration costs for metering, billing and customer services.
What’s the variable charge?
This is the cost for the amount of heating and hot water you have used. The smart meter in your property measures how many units of heat you have used (we call this a kilowatt hour, kWh). The total number of kWh used is multiplied by the unit cost of heat to calculate your variable charge of your heat bill.
Will I be charged if I go on holiday?
Yes. You’ll still be charged your daily fixed charge and for any energy consumption that your home’s heating system uses.
To help you minimise the consumption of energy while you’re away, you can turn off your heating via your programmer. However, do remember to keep your thermostat above 7 degrees to protect pipes from freezing.
What data do you collect from my meter and what is it used for?
The heat meter measures the amount of heat energy you use for heating and hot water. We use this to calculate your heat charges correctly.
It also helps us to predict the overall usage on site and see the trends and peaks, which in turn helps us manage the heat network in a smarter way.
What is a kilowatt hour?
A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit of measurement for how much energy is being used. Your bill will include a start date reading and an end date reading, allowing you to clearly to see the total heat energy used in your home.
A kilowatt hour doesn’t mean the number of kilowatts used per hour. It’s a unit of measurement that equals the amount of energy that would be used if a 1,000 watt appliance ran for one hour.
So, if you switched on a 100 watt light bulb, it would take 10 hours to rack up 1 kWh of energy. Or a 2,000 watt appliance would use 1 kWh in just half an hour, while a 50 watt item could stay on for 20 hours before it used 1 kWh.
How can I be sure my bills will not be more than I would pay if I had a boiler?
Your annual heating and hot water costs not only depend on how much hot water and heating you use, but also on the number of occupants, the size of your home and, importantly, the energy efficiency of your home.
Homes that are more energy efficient typically use less energy compared to a home of a similar size that is less energy efficient.
We understand that you may wish to see how your heating and hot water costs compare with another type of heating, such as a gas boiler. The Heat Trust has developed a Heat Cost Calculator that allows you to compare your annual heating and hot water costs to a similar sized property with a gas boiler.
As noted above, the energy efficiency of a property has a big impact on energy consumption. It’s important to note that the Heat Cost Calculator cannot assess the energy efficiency of a property, so it can only provide a very basic guide and will not be a bespoke assessment.
You can access the Heat Cost Calculator here: heattrust.org/heat-cost-comparator
4. Managing your heating and hot water
At what temperature will the heat be supplied to my home?
Our energy centres react to outdoor temperatures, with the hot water they pump into HIUs varying across the seasons. This way, we maximise each heat network’s efficiency while also ensuring that sufficient heat is provided to meet the desired temperatures for all the homes it heats.
That said, if your water temperature is only lukewarm then please contact our customer care team as soon as you can.
Can I control the temperature of the heating in my home?
Yes, you can control it using the thermostat and programmer on your home’s central heating system. Use the thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on your radiators to control the temperature in different rooms. Please note that we’re not responsible for the central heating system (radiators, TRVs and taps) in your home.
How can I see how much energy I am using?
Your monthly bill will include your consumption in kWh, and this information will be readily available on your online customer account.
5. Queries and questions
Vattenfall Heat offers many ways to get in touch. For more details please see our Contact us page.
6. Extra support when you need it
Extra care for Vattenfall Heat customers
We always try to tailor our service to our customers’ individual needs and understand that your circumstances can change over time. If you need extra support or have special requirements, you may be able to join our Priority Service Register, which we call Extra Care.
For more information, please see Extra care for Vattenfall Heat customers.