If you are a building owner or manager - of any type of building – you need to ask yourself two questions well before the end of this year:
- Is the building heated or cooled from a central boiler (or chiller)?
- If so, is it caught by what are colloquially known as the Heat Regulations
If the answer to these two questions is yes, you could be the ‘Heat Supplier’. We will come onto what that means in a moment but first, that person (the Heat Supplier) now has four new duties:-
- To tell the National Measurement and Regulation Office that your central system exists (and provide technical details) so that they can build a map.
- Consider putting in meters to measure the heat consumption.
- To maintain the meters so that they remain accurate and always in operation.
- To use the meters to provide customers with detailed information on the heat bills.
The first duty has to be performed by the end of this year (2015). There is quite a lot of information gathering and for some buildings it will not be a five minute exercise.
So is the building caught? It probably is if the building receives its heat from a boiler shared with other buildings (a District Heat Network) or if your building has its own boiler which serves more than one customer. This covers a very wide range of possibilities such as:-
- Residential/commercial and mixed use developments
- Existing blocks of flats
- Flat conversions and Bedsits (with a central boiler)
- Leisure Centres (with concession holders)
- Supermarkets (with concession holders)
- Shopping Centres
- Office buildings with more than one tenant
- Some University campuses
The question of when to put in the meters depends on the type of building. New buildings must have them installed from the start. For existing buildings, there is time to consider whether it is feasible to install them. There are various rules and exceptions, but if the building is caught, the meters must be installed by 31 December 2016. Once the meters are installed, the duties kick in to maintain their accuracy and issue bills fully loaded with the required information.
So back to who must perform these new duties? That is the Heat Supplier - the person who sells the heat (or cooling) to a ‘Final Customer’ or, in other words, the person who actually consumes the heat.
By the way, by heat, we also mean hot water and, as mentioned above, cooling from a central chiller.
The Regulations do not alter the way in which landlords and managing agents must consult residential tenants, nor the existing requirements that the heat costs are a reasonable amount and reasonably incurred.
So what action should you take if you think you have a District Heat Network or Community Heating? The starting point is to look at the Heat Supply contracts to decide if you are the Heat Supplier and then get cracking on the duties.