Heat metering regulations – the keys to compliance

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We look at changes to the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations and how to comply.

What are the regulations?

According to Government guidance the primary purpose of The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations, which came into force initially in 2014, is to drive energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions from heating. Efficiency is achieved through the installation of metering devices and billing based on consumption, which should decrease the use of energy and reduce consumer bills, and result in associated carbon emission savings. Metering also supports fair and transparent billing for customers on heat networks.

For a heat network to be covered by the regulations the heat must be transferred by water, steam, or chilled liquids, but the central heat source can use any type of technology. The regulations are, therefore, wide-ranging and could apply to any buildings served by a district heat network or communal heating system, whether that’s an office block leased to multiple tenants or those living in residential apartments or a social housing development.

What are the changes?

Currently, the regulations require operators of heat networks (also known as heat suppliers) to notify the Office for Product Safety and Standards (appointed by the BEIS to enforce the regulations in the UK) of the heat networks they operate and, where required, install metering devices on those networks. Amendments made in 2020 introduced three building classes that would require some heat suppliers with unmetered networks to install metering devices in the buildings they serve. In brief, these classes are Viable – meters must be installed; Open – meters must be installed if the result of a cost-effectiveness assessment is positive; and Exempt – meters do not have to be installed.

From 1st September 2022 further changes are coming into force which will apply mandatory billing requirements to all existing and new metering devices. Under these amended regulations the heat supplier must ensure that billing for the consumption of heating, cooling and hot water by a final customer is accurate and based on actual consumption.

Driving energy efficiency

So, what’s behind these changes? Well, apart from fairer billing for end-users, enforcing precision heat measurement, where this is required, could also help drive greater energy efficiency. Studies suggest that when consumers can see how much energy they are using on a heat meter they are more likely to take steps to reduce their consumption to lower their bills. If this is the case then that’s got to be good news for the environment and consumers’ pockets, especially amid today’s soaring energy costs.

Accurate metering of consumption by individual users also means that those who are more energy efficient are rewarded with bills based on their actual usage. Given that space and water heating in UK buildings accounts for a high proportion of our carbon emissions this incentive to save energy could contribute towards improving the efficiency of our buildings in the journey to net zero. In fact, at Danfoss we believe the benefits of accurately measuring heating, cooling and hot water usage could be likened to a famous quote by 19th century physicist Lord Kelvin: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

How to comply

We know from experience of working with energy consultants and HVAC specifiers, for example, that some of their key considerations when purchasing a heat meter are simplicity of installation and commissioning, reliability and, of course, billing accuracy. However, to be compliant they also need to be aware that a heat meter must be MID approved. The MID is the Measuring Instruments Directive which sets standards for measuring instruments that are used to bill end-users including water meters, gas meters, electricity meters and heat meters.

As well as guidance on selecting MID approved products, specifiers may also need advice on building protocol communication to make sure that the proposed heat meter can communicate effectively with the building’s BMS or automation system. This compatibility is vital in order for the meter to measure and record flow and energy rates and transfer this data for billing purposes.

SonoSelect, SonoDongle and SonoApp

New technologies

When it comes to the latest heat metering solutions the use of advanced ultrasonic technology in products like the Danfoss SonoSelect, for example, enables precision energy metering and more. This particular product also offers exceptional ease of installation and commissioning via smartphone using the Danfoss SonoApp.  The App can be used for everything from real-time verification of system functioning to remote diagnostics for fast error identification, such as battery life prognosis or air bubble problems, and correction.  Issues with poor water quality, for instance, that can result in  reduced measurement precision in ultrasonic meters can be quickly identified and resolved by flushing the system

Specifying a meter that has this type of advanced level of remote diagnostics can eliminate the cost of unnecessary unit replacement and reduce customer complaints. And next generation solutions look set to provide even greater functionality, with improved connectivity and data storage capacity through the integration of Cloud-based and IoT technologies.

Needless to say, as Heat Network Regulations relating to metering and billing have become increasingly stringent the demand for heat meters has grown significantly from both the new build and retrofit markets. Being aware of the latest regulations and how to comply is key to specifying a heat meter that is not only compliant but also delivers reliable and consistent energy data and low total cost of ownership.

For more information visit danfoss.com/en-gb/markets/buildings-commercial/#tab-solutions