• Community Heating Projects

  • Community Energy Centres and Your Home

    My home is connected to a Community Energy Centre – what does that mean?

    The heating and hot water in your home comes from an on-site energy centre which feeds hot water to the Heat Interface Unit (HIU) in your home. We own and operate this system.

    The energy centre itself contains all the plant and equipment needed to generate, store, pump and control the site-wide heating system. This includes large boilers, a Combined Heat and Power engine (CHP) and a thermal store (a large hot water tank). A Building Management System (BMS) monitors performance and tells us if any parts of the plant and equipment needs attention.

    We also carry out weekly maintenance visits to all of our energy centres to make sure that the plant and equipment is working safely and efficiently.

    What is Combined Heat and Power?

    CHP or Combined Heat and Power, is a modern and efficient way of producing energy that helps to significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with energy production carbon emissions.

    While traditional methods of generating electricity can waste a large amount of heat energy, usually in the form of steam lost in the air, CHP uses this energy to heat the water that circulates in the network and thereby heat your home.

    And because the electricity we generate will be used in the local area, we avoid some of the power losses that happen when electricity is carried a long way from large scale power stations.

    What is a Thermal Store?

    A Thermal Store is a very large hot water tank. It stores any extra heat produced by the CHP engine so it can be used during periods of high demand in the morning and evening. It can also be used as a back up to provide heating and hot water, if there is a short term problem with the boilers and CHP in the energy centre.

    What is a Heat Interface Unit?

    Your home has a Heat Interface Unit (HIU). It's similar in size to a gas boiler and provides all the heat and hot water needed for your home. Hot water is provided instantly using a plate heat exchanger within the HIU – so there's no need for a hot water storage tank, saving space and loss of heat normally associated with these. 

    Because the HIU doesn't have a gas connection, there's no risk of a gas leak or need for gas safety inspections. Instead, we carry out periodic maintenance on the HIU to make sure that it's working efficiently. When we need to do this we will contact you in advance and offer a variety of appointment dates.

    Please note - all the controls on the HIU were set to the optimum levels when it was installed. There are no user controllable parts within the HIU.

    You will not need to access your HIU. If you think there's a problem with your HIU please call us on 0800 3162 194*. Our fault line is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Please do not attempt to fix any problems yourself.

    How does my meter work?

    Your home is fitted with a heat meter, which uses ultrasonic technology to make sure that you are only charged for the heat you use. The meter is part of the HIU. The part you will see on the outside of the HIU is the Customer Display Unit (CDU) so you're able to see how much energy you're using on heating and cooling.

    The meter is able to send us details about the energy you use. We use this information to measure heat consumption, and to make sure your bill is accurate and not based on an estimated reading.

    If you dispute the accuracy of any heating meter, we will attend your property and carry out an inspection of your meter. If we have cause to doubt the accuracy of the meter, it will be sent for testing and calibration to the manufacturer. If there was a fault with the meter, you will not be charged for testing and we will refund the cost of any heat charged in error to you. If the meter is found to be accurate, you must pay the reasonable cost of the test.

    Use the guides below to help you understand more about your meter. 

    PDF icon PDF file: Credit meter user guide

    PDF icon PDF file: Pay As You Go meter user guide

    How does my cooling work?

    Some homes will also have cooling provided by the community system, for warmer summer months.

    Chilled water is piped from the energy centre to each home, where it can be used to cool the interior via fan coil units. The chilled water is created in the energy centre by chillers, and in some cases by low carbon cooling technologies, that either use electricity or heat from the CHP unit.

    We bill you for cooling in kilowatt hours (kWh) which are recorded with a meter, the same way as your heating.

    Please note that we normally don't maintain the chilled water pipe work and fan coil units within your home.

    If you are in any doubt about who is responsible for the heating or cooling equipment in your property, please call us and we will advise you.

    What are the benefits of a Community Energy System?

    There are plenty of benefits to this system:

    • We include maintenance – and eventual replacement – of the HIU and meter in our charges. There are no hidden extras or emergency one-off charges to worry about.
    • If there's a problem with your heating supply and the fault isn't caused by you, then there will be no additional charges for us to come to your home and fix the problem. 
    • The HIUs in your home provide heating instantly on demand, so there's no need for a hot water cylinder. This means there's none of the heat losses you would usually find with hot water cylinders.
    • Our meters use ultrasonic technology which is very reliable. We use an automatic meter reading system, or AMR, which is commonly called "smart metering". This means readings are sent to us from your meter so we don't need to visit to take them. And it makes sure you're only charged for the heat and cooling you use, with no estimated readings.
    • As part of our commitment to you, we'll regularly inspect your HIU and meter to make sure that they are both working efficiently. 
    • Unlike gas boilers, we may not need to perform a service every year. When we do need to visit for a routine service, we'll contact you in advance to organise a date that is convenient for you.

  • Equipment, Safety and Faults

    What equipment is in my home?

    Your home is fitted with a Hydraulic Interface Unit (HIU), a heat meter and, if we supply your cooling as well, a cooling meter. The meter is part of the HIU. The part you will see on the outside of the HIU is the Customer Display Unit (CDU), so you're able to see how much energy you're using on heating and cooling.

    Am I responsible for the equipment in my home?

    The HIUs and meters are owned by us, but we don't own the radiators, heating programmers or thermostats in your home.

    Controls on the HIU are pre-set when the unit is installed – please don't adjust controls as this will affect the efficiency of your unit. If you have any problems, you can use our troubleshooting guide or call us on 0800 3162 194*. Our fault line is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

    Will you need access to my home?

    We'll sometimes need access to your property for routine maintenance. It may not be every year and if we do need to visit, we'll contact you in advance. We may also need access in an emergency. All of our staff or contractors will carry proof of identity, so if you have any concerns, please ask to see it.

    What equipment is owned by SSE?

    We own all the plant and equipment in the energy centre and the heat (and cooling) distribution pipes supplying your property.

    We also own and have responsibility for the Hydraulic Interface Unit, (HIU), and heat meter inside your property.

    If your home is supplied with cooling, we only own the cooling meter.  We don't own the cooling pipes or the fan coil unit.

    Please note we don't own the radiators, heating programmers or thermostats in your home. Should there be a fault with these items, please contact your landlord, housing association or a plumber for advice. 

    If you are in any doubt about who is responsible for the heating or cooling equipment in your property, please call us and we will advise you.

    How safe is this system?

    Our first priority is always safety. Our operators, and subcontractors, should always follow to strict processes to make sure of the highest standards of safety.

    Our energy centre has fire and security alarms, which are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    The energy centre can be monitored by our staff remotely using the BMS (Building Management System) and we'll visit regularly to make checks on-site to ensure everything is operating as it should.

    If you're worried about anything you see, call us on 0800 3162 194* and we will look into it. Our fault line is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

    How reliable is this system?

    Most heat through the year is provided by a Combined Heat and Power, (or CHP), engine. This is supported by boilers that provide back-up, for example if the CHP engine is not available due to routine maintenance. Boilers are also used to provide top-up heating during the coldest periods of the year. There are multiple boilers, to make the system more robust against possible problems.

    Our heating and cooling distribution pipes are fitted with leak detection, which automatically alerts us to any problems so we can respond quickly.

    The HIU and meter in your home are owned by us. Controls on the HIU were pre-set when the unit was installed so please don't adjust controls as this will affect the efficiency of your unit.

    Please note: The HIU contains hot, pressurised water so it's essential that only our staff or contractors carry out any work on it. If you have a problem, see our troubleshooting guide or call us on 0800 316 2194*. Our fault line is open 24/7, 365 days a year. DO NOT engage a plumber to work on the HIU.

    All of our staff or contractors will carry proof of identity, so if you have any concerns, please ask to see it.

    What if I have a problem or fault?

    If you have a problem, see our troubleshooting guide or call us on 0800 316 2194*. Our fault line is open 24/7, 365 days a year. If the fault isn't caused by you, then there will be no additional charges for us to come to your home and fix the problem.

    Please don't adjust controls on the HIU as this will affect the efficiency of your unit.

  • Your Charges Explained

    What will I pay?

    Your heat and cooling price is always clearly linked to published domestic energy prices.

    To calculate your variable heat charges, we calculate the average of current domestic Direct Debit gas charges of the six largest suppliers in your area. We apply an efficiency factor to this value to convert the gas price to your heat price. 

    Similarly, we use current domestic Direct Debit electricity charges to set your cooling price. 

    The "standing" or "fixed" charge is there to cover our operating costs, including equipment in your home and our energy centre. It also covers the cost of our call out response and the cost to provide full customer service facilities for you.

    The capital fund replacement charge pays for the replacement of the plant and equipment in the energy centre and the HIU and meter in your home, when they reach the end of their operating lives.

    We review all charges once each year.

    Will I pay more than an average customer?

    There are three core principles to our heat and cooling charges:

    1. Our charges are fair in comparison to "traditional" heating and cooling methods, such as an individual gas boiler and air conditioner units.
    2. We aim for our charges to be simple and easy to understand.
    3. We make it clear what each part of the charge pays for.

    If you're our customer for heating or cooling, our charges will be set out in your supply contract called a Direct Customer Agreement.

    Although actual charges vary slightly from site to site because costs for us to operate each network vary, the structure of charges is always based on the above principles.

    What is a Direct Customer Agreement?

    A Direct Customer Agreement is your supply contract with us. It sets our what we will charge for your supply. It also gives you information on our Guaranteed Standards and the terms in which we will supply the heat, hot water and cooling to your property

    What is a variable charge?

    This charge pays for the cost of the heat (and cooling where supplied) you use. It's measured by the meter in your home in pence per kilowatt hour (kWh).

    To calculate the heat charges, we calculate the average of current domestic Direct Debit gas charges of the six largest suppliers in your area. We apply an efficiency factor to this value to convert the gas price to your heat price. 

    Similarly, we use current domestic Direct Debit electricity charges to set your cooling price. This means that your heat and cooling price is always clearly linked to published domestic energy prices.

    We review all charges once each year.

    What is a standing charge?

    This can also be called a "fixed charge". This charge pays for the cost of operating and maintaining the whole heat network, and cooling if applicable, including all of the equipment in the energy centre, pipes and the HIU and meter in your home. It also covers the cost of our call out response and the cost to provide full customer service facilities for you.

    If there's a problem with your heat (or cooling) supply and the fault is not caused by you, there will be no additional charges for us to come to your home and fix the problem.

    Please note that we are only responsible for our equipment.

    If you are in any doubt about who is responsible for the heating or cooling equipment in your property, please call us and we will advise you.

    We review all charges once each year.

    What is a capital replacement fund charge?

    This charge pays for the replacement of the plant and equipment in the energy centre and the HIU and meter in your home, when they reach the end of their operating lives.

    We review all charges once each year.

  • Need help?

    Our dedicated Heat Customer Service teams are on hand to help out:

    • Credit meter:
      0345 078 3215
    • Pay As You Go meter:
      0345 078 3258