District heating costs
Monday 10 October 2022
District heating, do you know exactly what it entails and the cost of district heating? Maybe you are one of the almost 500,000 households that already use it and want to learn more about it. In this blog, we clearly explain what district heating is, how it works, what its advantages and disadvantages are and in which cities district heating is already used. Furthermore, we will explain the possible district heating costs you may face and the best professional to call for any insulation measures you need to take.
District heating, what exactly is that?
A sustainable alternative to heating a home with gas is district heating. If your home is not connected to the gas grid, there is a good chance that your home is heated by district heating. This depends on where you live as not all cities have district heating.
With district heating, your home can be heated without using gas (and your own central heating boiler). Heating is done with so-called residual heat. Through a specially constructed network of water pipes in your residential area, heat and hot water is supplied.
For this purpose, residual heat from, for example, power plants, factories or greenhouses is used. But other heat sources can also supply this residual heat. Think of residual heat released by burning household waste or burning biomass or coal.
The more sustainable the energy from the relevant heat source is, the more sustainable the district heating is. Unfortunately, relatively much (residual) heat comes from non-sustainable energy sources. Fortunately, sustainable residual heat and geothermal heat are increasingly being used. Geothermal heat is less warm, so sometimes you have to insulate your home extra well.
District heating occurs on a small scale (for just one block of houses) but also on a large scale (up to tens of thousands of houses). Incidentally, when your home is connected to district heating, this does not necessarily mean that you are no longer connected to the gas network. It is possible that your home is heated with district heating, but that you can still cook on gas. A variant of district heating is so-called block heating, which is usually also fuelled by waste heat. With block heating, often an entire apartment complex or group of houses is supplied with heat using a collective boiler.
District heating is also referred to as a heat network.
District heating, how exactly does it work?
District heating makes clever use of the waste heat from heat sources such as factories, power plants or heat from waste incineration. Normally, such heat is lost. With a transfer station, residual heat from these heat sources can be captured. Then, that heat is distributed through an underground network of water pipes and transported to the home(s). Through this network, not only is sufficient heat supplied to the respective house(s), the cooled water that has been used is collected and returned to the transfer station. There, the process starts all over again.
With district heating, therefore, the home does not have its own boiler.
District heating and thermostat
The absence of an own central heating boiler does not mean that there is no thermostat in the house either. Indeed, district heating can be paired with different types of thermostats such as a smart thermostat or a central CV valve. A central heating valve, a device in your meter box, allows you to control when energy is used. It allows you to open and close radiator valves yourself. A smart thermostat adapts to your energy use and can be controlled remotely. Please note, not all smart thermostats are suitable for district heating.
District heating costs
Instead of a gas meter, when district heating is used, a water meter is installed. This records the district heat used in Gigajoules (GJ). You will see this consumption on your energy bill.
According to the 2022 heat tariffs, from 1 July 2022 you will pay a maximum amount of €48.60 per Gigajoule. One Gigajoule is equivalent to the consumption of 32.68 m3 of natural gas. For comparison, if a cubic metre of natural gas currently costs an average of €3.77, that means an amount of €123.20. A considerably higher amount than that of a Gigajoule.
Nibud has calculated that a two-person household consumes about 42 gigajoules per year on average. District heating costs can of course vary per month, as can the way they are charged. This depends on the heat supplier, among other things.
Do keep in mind that there are fixed district heating charges, regardless of your consumption. These are the fixed charges:
- A usage-independent fixed tariff for the maintenance and management of the heat network
- The meter rate, being the fixed costs for recording and administering the meter readings and for replacement and maintenance of the heat meter
- Charges for the distribution network consisting of the maintenance, management or replacement of your distribution network
Which cities already have district heating?
A number of large cities in the Netherlands already use district heating. Leading the way is Purmerend, where only 29% of homes are still connected to natural gas. Other cities include Duiven, Almere, Nieuwegein, Westervoort, Utrechte, Capelle aan den IJssel, Tilburg, Diemen and Breda. A sign that a house is probably connected to district heating is the lack of a central heating boiler. Note that your home may be supplied with heat by a heat pump or pellet boiler.
The benefits of district heating
A home connected to district heating has no central heating boiler. This saves you the annual maintenance of a central heating boiler. Moreover, district heating is safer and there is no need to connect a geyser or boiler. The municipality takes care of the maintenance of the necessary equipment. Moreover, district heating is a sustainable alternative and contributes to gas-free homes.
A "disadvantage" of district heating is that there is only one supplier per heat network, creating a monopoly position. In particular, this allows the fixed costs to be determined by the supplier. This does not apply to the already mentioned maximum price for consumption per Gigajoule.
Additional measures in district heating
We mentioned earlier in this article that you may have to insulate your home better (or have it insulated) because geothermal heating is less warm. Some measures you can take are:
- fitting roof insulation
- Floor insulation
- cavity wall insulation
- installing HR++ glass
- applying draught strips
For all these measures, we always advise you to enlist the help of a professional in your area, which you can easily book through Zoofy. The job can often be done within a day, allowing you to immediately start saving on your energy costs.
Moreover, if you have two or more insulation measures carried out, you are eligible for a subsidy.