Good practice guide: Making sure heat network consumers get the right support and information
The Citizens Advice service provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. We are the statutory representative for domestic and microbusiness energy consumers across Great Britain. We are also anticipating being asked by the government to take on a new statutory role as the consumer advocate for heat network consumers. Our good practice guides are designed to help suppliers and other stakeholders improve the support provided to their customers.
Heat networks are one of the key technologies in the government’s strategy to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has estimated that nearly 20% of all residential heating will need to be supplied through heat networks by 2050, up from around 2% today. To help support new and existing consumers, suppliers need to provide clear and transparent information about their services.
In January 2021, we published a report looking at the information provided by a small sample of heat network suppliers over the phone and on their websites. Our research found that it’s difficult to get information about their services, and that there is limited support available for consumers in vulnerable circumstances - including for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
This good practice guide highlights instances of good and bad practice from that research, and recommends actions suppliers could take now to improve things for consumers. Whilst upcoming regulation of the heat network sector should oblige suppliers to make many of these changes, these could take some time to come into force. That’s why heat network suppliers should start making these changes now.