We can’t keep heating like this

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Will Damazer

May 23, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at a fairer deal for heat networks.

In this briefing published by the Social Market Foundation, Will Damazer sets out an ambitious plan to overhaul the heat network system and secure a fairer deal for all those living in them. Up to 900,000 UK families living in heat networks (i.e. receiving energy from a source shared with other buildings) risk facing staggering increases to their energy bills, by 700% in some cases. Beyond the immediate crisis, there are long-standing issues with heat networks. They have poor energy efficiency and high maintenance costs. Most networks are not metered, leading to excessive energy use and unnecessary costs, and a lack of regulatory protection from Ofgem, with heat networks currently in line with housing service charges. Will Damazer sets out a number of ways in which Government must take action to provide a fairer deal for those living in heat networks, including by: improving regulation, with a target for Ofgem to start regulation by April 2024, and incentives for heat networks to improve efficiency; and, dismantling old networks and mandating operators to run feasibility studies and providing funding for households in dismantled networks to transition to heat pumps.