Heat Trust, the consumer champion for heat networks, has hailed a successful fifth year of holding the heat network industry to account, with figures from its 2020 annual report showing that complaint volumes continue to fall with an average of 3.8 complaints per 100 customers in 2020 amongst participants in the scheme compared to an average of 5.4 complaints per 100 customers in the regulated gas and electricity sectors.

Heat Trust says participation in its voluntary scheme has ensured a significant proportion of the industry is ready for the government’s forthcoming statutory regulation of heat networks. However, it called for those operators who haven’t yet joined the scheme to do so now, to ensure they are not caught out by regulations in a few years’ time.

Heat Trust puts customers at the heart of the rapidly expanding heat network market. It sets consistent customer service standards for the sector, building on standards set in the gas and electricity markets.

Up to five million homes could be reliant on the heat network infrastructure by 2050, a ten-fold increase from the estimated 500,000 homes currently on heat networks in the UK, so it is important that the sector addresses consumer protection issues no in order to build public confidence in this important technology.

30% growth means 57,000 consumers now offered protection through the scheme

Heat Trust says it is seeing a growing number of heat suppliers signing up to offer its consumer protection standards to customers, with 100 sites now part of the scheme.

The heat network at Clapham Park, operated by Pinnacle Power under its With Energy brand, is the latest to join Heat Trust, meaning that more than 57,000 people living on 100 different heat networks across the country are now offered protection through the scheme.

Heat networks are set to play a key role in meeting carbon reduction targets and helping to create a sustainable energy future. Up to five million homes could be reliant on heat network infrastructure by 2050.

Heat Trust launched in November 2015 as an independent, non-profit voluntary consumer protection scheme for heat networks that holds the industry to account for the benefit of everyone involved.  In the absence of statutory regulation, it ensures that customers of participating heat suppliers enjoy the benefits of strict customer service standards, similar to those for gas and electricity suppliers, and have access to independent alternative dispute resolution (ADR) through the Energy Ombudsman. 

Heat Trust monitors and audits participating suppliers to ensure they live up to their commitments and also works to promote best practice in customer service in the heat network sector.

Over the last year Heat Trust has seen the number of sites registered with the scheme grow by 30%, as the industry prepares for government regulation.

New Managing Director, Stephen Knight, said:

“Heat is an essential service and customers deserve the same rights and protections as those living and working in properties in the regulated sector.
“Over the last six years Heat Trust has delivered that for tens of thousands of customers.  The news that we have reached our 100th registered site is testament to the benefit we have delivered.
“That benefit is only going to grow as the sector moves towards the introduction of a new regulated market framework.
“I’d like to thank Pinnacle Power - suppliers at Clapham Park - and the suppliers of all our other registered sites, for their ongoing commitment to the highest standards of customer protection in the sector.
“Other suppliers should follow their example and register their sites with us now, ahead of the introduction of statutory regulation in the next few years.”

Toby Heysham, Managing Director of Pinnacle Power, added:

“This is a landmark district heating network that has taken a number of years for our team to develop with our client Metropolitan Thames Valley Homes. We are thrilled to be the 100th site to have registered with Heat Trust and hope to have many more registered with the scheme in the future.
“The Heat Trust registration further cements our ambition and commitment to delivering a market leading customer proposition which is fair and reasonable to customers. Pinnacle builds, owns and operates high quality low carbon heat networks.”

Heat Trust has today written to signatories of the ADE Agreement on consumer protection in response to the impact of COVID, expressing concern at the latest set of monitoring data.  In particular, Heat Trust is concerned at the continuing numbers of disconnections by some suppliers during the coldest part of the year and declining levels of support given to pre-payment meter customers.  Heat Trust is also concerned at failures of some suppliers to report on their activities in line with the terms of the Agreement.

The full letter can be read here. 

Heat Trust, the consumer champion for heat networks, has appointed a new Director.

Stephen Knight takes up the role in May 2021 joining from London Trading Standards, where he was the director leading the London-wide partnership of Trading Standards services. 

Previously, Stephen served as an elected councillor in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames for 20 years, including time as deputy leader of the council and as a London Assembly member, chairing the Assembly’s environment committee. He said:

“This is a very exciting time for the heat network sector. The industry clearly has a vital role to play in de-carbonising heating and is therefore preparing for large scale investment and growth. 
“At the same time, it is readying itself for the introduction of statutory regulation, which will give its consumers similar protection to gas and electricity customers. Heat Trust has been putting customers at the heart of changes in the sector over the last six years, and I’m delighted to be given the chance to build on that track record at this crucial time.”

Stephen will replace David Watson in the role. Over the last year David has seen Heat Trust grow the number of registered sites by 30%, and the number of customers covered by its protections to over 55,000. 

He has also led Heat Trust’s engagement with Government on how statutory regulation might be implemented. David said:

“I’m proud of everything that we have achieved during my time at Heat Trust.
“We have made a tangible difference to the lives of tens of thousands of customers, whether through holding industry to account, ensuring customers have been fairly treated by suppliers through the COVID pandemic or helping Government develop proposals that will see protections and standards like ours apply to all customers on all sites. 
“Heat Trust has never been more relevant to the needs of the customer, the sector and to Government and I’m delighted to have been able to play a role in that.” 

Casey Cole, Chair of Heat Trust, welcomed Stephen to the team and wished David well in his future role. He said:

“We are delighted by the success of Heat Trust, and we would like to thank David for his work in both fighting for customer interests and showing how the new market framework can ensure no customer is left behind. We wish him every success in his new position. Stephen has a proven track record in consumer advocacy and policy development, and we look forward to him taking the organisation forward in this next important chapter.”

Form more information contact Bobbie Hough on 07794204268 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The latest public attitudes tracker report by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) had a particular focus on heat.

It found that in relation to heat networks:

  • Just under three in ten (28%) had heard of heat networks in December 2020. 
  • Of those who were aware of heat networks, six in ten (60%) said they would be likely to join one if given the opportunity. This equated to 17% of all people. Over half (54%) of those that were aware of heat networks were also positive about them.

On heat usage in the home:

  • In December 2020, three quarters of people (75%) said they paid either a lot (24%) or a fair amount (51%) of attention to the amount of heat they used in their home. One in five (21%) said they did not pay very much attention to this, and 3% said they pay no attention to it at all. 
  • The most common reason given for paying attention to the amount of heat used in the home was to minimise the amount of money spent on heat (46%). 
  • The most common reason given for not paying attention to the amount of heat used in the home was because people wanted to use as much heat as needed to be comfortable (49%).

And on replacing heating systems:

  • People said they would mainly change their heating system to save money on bills (45%) but over a third (35%) said they would do this to switch to a more environmentally friendly heating system.