Guide to Community Heating

The growth in community heating will help reduce carbon and meet net zero targets. Find out everything you need to know about community heating here.

At Switch2 we are unique as we can shoulder the end-to-end management of your scheme – including design, funding, installation, billing & credit control.

With experience from over 400 schemes in the UK there is no one better placed to offer you the expertise necessary to create and maintain a profitable, efficient community heating scheme that adheres to official regulations


What is a community heating scheme?

Community heating is a type of heat network which focusses on the supply of heat and hot water to a single building block with more than one heat customer.

At Switch2, we widen this definition to include small heat networks where a central plant room serves a site or development that may comprise of more than one building.

In the majority of UK community heating schemes, heat is generated in a plant room using gas boilers, CHP engines or biomass boilers. Some schemes may however connect to a district heating network to provide a source of heat.

Who owns and operates community heating schemes?

Common owners of community heating schemes would be a social housing provider, landlord or freehold company.

Scheme operators are required to provide billing to residents by law which can be managed by Switch2, ensuring transparent billing where consumers pay for the heat/hot water they use through Switch2 on either a pay-as-you-go basis or as a monthly or quarterly bill.

What are the benefits of a community heating scheme?

By using one central boiler as opposed to individual boilers, community heating is extremely efficient and cost effective.

Systems that serve social housing – typically owned by a local authority or housing association – are among the most viable community heating projects. They can reduce energy bills for residents on benefits or within fuel poverty.


• Community heating systems offer an efficient and durable heating solution

• They’re more environmentally-friendly than individual boiler-powered heating systems

• They’re efficient, reprocessing heat waste and delivering energy with minimal wastage

• Can be deployed where the only alternative would be electrical heating

• Individual billing via modern meters provides detailed information about energy usage

• Community heating can cut costs to the housing management and to the consumer

• Consumers can choose to pay as they go on a property-by-property basis

• Long-term financial support program available for renewable heat incentives

Community heating support

At Switch2 we have the experience and expertise you need ensure your community heating scheme is profitable and efficient for all parties. We have an enviable record of working on over 400 schemes in the UK, helping to develop new schemes or revitalising existing projects.

New community heating schemes

Looking to build and install a new community energy scheme? Make sure you ask for our expert advice. We’ll help you to select and size equipment that delivers only the energy you need, at the right price for the resident.

By holding detailed data on over 400 community energy sites we can predict the energy bill for each consumer whether you choose CHP, biomass, heat pumps or gas. And that means we can predict the profits (or losses) for any entire scheme.

We offer several options to help you manage your scheme, depending on how you want to balance your levels of control and risk:

  • We can take on full responsibility for the profit & loss of your scheme, thereby removing your risk (this is where we act as your energy service company, or ESCo)
  • We could become your partner in a long-term joint venture (this is called an energy partnering contract), where we share the risks and rewards fairly between us
  • You could sub-contract the scheme’s management to us while you retain control over your scheme and any associated risks (this is called contract energy management).

Existing community heating schemes

At Switch2 we help ensure all community heating systems we work with are up to Government standards and are as efficient and easy to maintain as possible.

We’ll audit your existing scheme to see how successful it is. We’ll assess the energy-efficiency of your equipment, look for energy loss and wastage in your public and private areas, and check your financial model. Our market-leading automatic meter-reading systems will measure your residents’ consumption accurately and in real time — and can be retro-fitted to existing schemes.

Looking after your residents

We provide an invaluable interface between your residents and your community heating scheme, and are always happy to answer their questions or resolve their problems (so you don’t have to).

  • When we take over the management of a scheme, all residents get a welcome pack and an explanation of how the scheme works
  • We reduce resident frustration, and protect vulnerable residents, by helping you to set fair prices and measure consumption accurately
  • Our UK call centre will take residents’ questions about bills, meter readings, payments, changes of tenancy, and more
  • Automated metering means we don’t need to enter residences, but we’re happy to send a customer-service-trained engineer out to occupiers if they have a technical problem or need extra help with their heating system
  • Needless to say, we protect residents’ personal and banking information very carefully. And we generally keep an eye out for who’s using too much or too little energy, taking care of their welfare

At Switch2 we’ll help your residents to understand the scheme and how to save energy and reduce costs. So, talk to us about your new or existing community energy scheme and we’ll help you make it a success.

Heat network regulations guide

We have worked on thousands of heat network schemes, helping customers understand, plan and implement heating schemes of the highest standards throughout the UK.

If you need further assistance with how the heat network regulations affect you and how they work read our latest guide or contact us and we’ll give you all the relevant information you need.