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This page gives guidance for domestic heat network consumers in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) on:

  • What the different elements of your heat charges might cover, and why many heat network consumers have seen significant increases in their charges since the start of the Energy Crisis.
  • What specific bill support schemes apply to heat network consumers, and why these aren’t the same as the support for domestic gas consumers.
  • What support you can expect from your heat supplier, if you’re on a Heat Trust registered heat network.
  • What questions you could ask your heat supplier, if you’re not on a Heat Trust registered heat network and you're finding it difficult to understand or pay your bills.
  • What organisations can give you advice about:
    • Other energy bill support schemes to which you might be entitled.
    • General cost of living support.
    • Managing debt.

Before reading on:

  • Confused about what heat networks are? Start with our explanation here.
  • Not sure if your heat network’s registered with us? Check here.
  • Have a different type of issue with your heat supplier? See here for how you’re protected if you’re on a Heat Trust registered heat network, or here if your heat network isn’t registered with us.

Please note that Heat Trust isn’t an advice service, can't give legal advice and can’t intervene directly in disputes between individual consumers and their heat suppliers.

If your heat network is metered, then your heat bill or account statement (and any in-home display) will usually show your:

  • Variable charges: Charges for your heat usage (consumption). These are usually shown as a unit price per kWh and the amount of units (kWh) of heat consumed within a given period. These charges vary according to how much heat you’ve used, or are deemed by your heat supplier to have used.
  • Fixed charges: Standing charges, usually shown as a unit price per day and the number of days covered within a given period. These are your share of your heat supplier’s running costs, which usually include maintenance and repair costs for the heat network. Standing charges accrue daily at a fixed amount, regardless of how much heat you’ve used (for example, they’re still payable for days that you were away on holiday or didn't turn your heating on).

The example heat bill below, produced by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), uses 2021 prices that may not be representative of latest prices.

Example heat bill 2021

Exactly how you’re billed and how your charges are calculated will depend on various factors, including whether your heat network’s registered with us and whether it’s metered. Unmetered heat networks will use a different method to apportion charges. See here if you’re on a Heat Trust registered heat network, or here if you’re not.

What your heat supplier charges you for your heat usage will also be affected by:

  • The type of heat source used for your heat network. For most heat networks, this is gas that your heat supplier will have bought at uncapped commercial prices. These gas prices increased dramatically during the Energy Crisis.
  • How efficient your heat network is. Many heat networks operate at only around 35-45% efficiency, with 55-65% of their heat lost from plant and pipework before reaching consumers. The best performing heat networks should achieve 65%+ efficiency levels.

Lower efficiency means higher bills, as more heat has to be used to compensate for what’s lost. Your kWh unit cost will therefore usually have been calculated as the heat source (e.g. gas) cost multiplied by a factor that accounts for these heat losses.


Because heat suppliers buy their energy in the commercial market, heat network consumers have not benefitted from government subsidies or price controls targeted at domestic energy consumers. There is also no separate price regulation (price cap) that applies to the sale of heat.

This means that heat network consumers aren’t protected by the energy price cap. They also didn’t benefit from the government’s Energy Price Guarantee support scheme for domestic gas and electricity consumers during Winter 2022-23.

Instead, the government introduced two specific bill support schemes for commercial energy customers (including heat networks) that use gas or electricity as their main heat source:

  • Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS): This covered energy use between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023. Its discount was calculated as the difference between: (1) the government’s estimate of the wholesale portion of the gas or electricity unit price that would be paid by the heat supplier; and (2) a price set by the government to be lower than the expected wholesale price. You can read the government’s explanation of the discount here. Suppliers who signed fixed rate contracts before 1 December 2021 weren’t eligible for the discount. All other suppliers automatically received it.
  • Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS) for heat networks: This covered energy use between 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2024. Its discount was calculated as the difference between: (1) the actual price paid by the heat supplier; and (2) a price threshold set by the government. You can read the government’s explanation of the discount here. Heat network operators had to apply to receive it.

All GB heat suppliers are legally required to pass on to their end consumers the benefit that they’ve received under the EBRS and/or the EBDS, and to notify their consumers of how they’ve done this. The extent of any benefit received by an individual supplier will depend on their contractual arrangements for their energy source, so not all heat suppliers will have received a benefit to pass on.

The benefit only applied to the variable element of bills and not to fixed (standing) charges. The impact on end consumers’ bills will also depend on the overall efficiency of the heat network as explained above. Heat suppliers had to first claim the EBDS discount themselves. This means that they may only now be starting to pass it onto consumers, but the benefit should be backdated to 1 April 2023.

If you believe that your heat supplier hasn’t passed on the benefit(s) they’ve received under the EBRS and/or the EBDS, then you can complain to them using the government’s template letter here. If you’re still unhappy with your heat supplier’s response, you can refer your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman here. This arrangement between government and the Ombudsman is separate to Heat Trust and covers all GB heat suppliers. Unlike other types of complaint about heat suppliers, a supplier doesn't need to be registered with Heat Trust for its consumers to make an EBRS or EBDS pass-through complaint.

A lower level of support under the EBDS also applied to electricity consumers who are on communal or ‘private wire’ networks, where building owners buy this electricity through commercial energy contracts. If the same electricity supply also powers a heat network system, then the higher heat network discount will have applied. Often the same consumers can be on both a heat network (for their heating and hot water) and a private wire network (for their electricity). You can read more about how the EBDS applied to these electricity consumers on the government’s website here.

When launching the EBDS for heat networks, the government estimated that it would be worth up to £380 million in total, or £860 for the average heat network consumer. However, government data shows that (as of 26 March 2024) only £62.2 million of this £380 million had been spent.


If you're on a Heat Trust registered heat network

If you’re having difficulty paying your heat bills, then our Scheme Rules require your heat supplier to:

  • Make proactive contact with you if they reasonably believe that you may have difficulty paying.
  • Work closely with you to help resolve payment difficulties.
  • Make every reasonable effort to help you restructure your payments to be manageable and affordable for you.
  • Take account of your individual circumstances and ability to pay, when arranging a repayment plan or when restructuring repayment for you.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that you understand your repayment arrangement.
  • Monitor and re-engage with you if your repayment arrangement fails, including discussing whether a different repayment plan or repayment method is more suitable for you.
  • Ensure that, before switching you to a pre-payment arrangement, it’s safe and reasonably practicable for you to use a pre-payment meter.
  • Ensure that, if you have a pre-payment meter, they provide you with a minimum amount of emergency credit (and ‘friendly hours’ credit, if supported by the meter) and explain to you how to use this.
  • Consider referring you to specialist advice and support.
  • Ensure that they only suspend your supply (disconnect you) as a last resort, once the payment deadline in their final demand letter has passed, and that they resume your supply once you've agreed a course of action with them or met their conditions.

If you’re in vulnerable circumstances, then our Scheme Rules require your heat supplier to have processes in place to:

  • Identify whether you’re potentially in vulnerable circumstances.
  • Record that you’re in vulnerable circumstances (this might be by adding you to their Priority Services Register).
  • Offer you extra protections, such as use of passwords for home visits and/or enabling you to nominate someone else to receive your bills for you.
  • Provide you with extra advice on understanding your heat bill or account statement.
  • Ensure that your heat supply isn’t suspended or disconnected between the start of October and the end of March.
  • Make reasonable arrangements to supply you with alternative sources of heating, if your heat network experiences an outage for more than 12 hours.
  • Signpost you to other sources of support.

‘Vulnerable circumstances’ can include circumstances related to age, a physical or mental health condition, disability, low income, financial insecurity or bereavement. This list is non-exhaustive and your heat supplier must also consider other circumstances that might mean you become unable to safeguard your personal welfare, or the personal welfare of other members of your household.

If you're more likely than a typical customer to have difficulty communicating, then our Scheme Rules require your heat supplier to add you to their Priority Services Register and provide you with additional support.

This support might include:

  • Offering you the use of passwords for home visits.
  • Enabling you to nominate someone else to receive your bills for you.
  • Providing you with billing information in a different format or language that’s more accessible to you.
  • Reading your meter for you, if you’re not able to.


If you're NOT on a Heat Trust registered heat network

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your heat supplier can’t or won’t offer you extra support.

We suggest asking your heat supplier the following questions:

  • How can you help me if I’m having difficulty understanding and/or paying my bills?
  • Do you offer repayment plans for debt?
  • What emergency support (such as emergency credit) can you provide to pre-payment customers?
  • How can you help me if I have trouble communicating, or have specific communication needs?
  • What extra support can you give me because of my age, health, disability or financial situation?
  • Do you have a Priority Services Register?
  • Can I nominate someone else to receive my bills for me?