BBC Rip-Off Britain

Representatives of the UK’s district heating industry responded to this week to unfavourable coverage given to it by the BBC’s Rip Off Britain television programme.

The episode in question, aired on the 15 September 2015, looked at a district heating scheme in London where residents expressed concerns with the reliability of the scheme and the affordability of their energy bills.  
BBC Rip-Off Britain
It focused on Highams Green district heating scheme, operated by Tesco. The scheme consists of 253 flats and homes supplied by a combined heat and power unit situated within the nearby Tesco superstore.

The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) has responded to the programme’s content referring to the creation and forthcoming launch of Heat Trust, an independent heat customer protection scheme.

Dr Tim Rotheray, Director of ADE, which represents the district heating industry said: “Every district heating customer deserves a fair deal and great service. Customers’ comfort and satisfaction must be at the heart of district heating. Over the past two years industry has been working on the launch of a new independent scheme that will help address many of the concerns raised in today’s programme by offering customers protection.”

“We would encourage heat suppliers to get in touch for more information on how they can join Heat Trust and provide their customers with the protection that they want.”

“Gas customers pay for boiler installation and maintenance separately from their gas bill, whereas these costs are included in a district heating bill which makes a fair comparison between gas and district heating prices problematic.”

“A recent report by Which? that took these costs into account found that district heating can be up to 40% cheaper than an individual gas boiler and is always cheaper than electric heating.”

Heat Trust, which will launch this year, sets out demanding rules for district heating suppliers that are based on those in the gas and electricity sector. Billing transparency, customer service and free to customer independent complaint resolution are all central parts of the new scheme.

The UK and Scottish Governments and consumer groups such as Which? have been involved with the process and were key consultees on the rules.