Appoint an independent regulator to community heating projects
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If you think you are paying over the odds for your energy you can just switch to a cheaper supplier but if you are one of the 220,000 households who have been forced to sign up to District Heating networks which power entire estates by sending hot water and steam via insulated pipes from a central generator direct to your home, you are stuck (in many cases for the next 25 years) with the probability of ever spiralling prices and huge daily standing charges. District Heating schemes are good green news because they use 90% of the energy generated, waste energy can be recycled, households no longer have to maintain their own boilers, and heating bills are supposed to cheaper. However because the schemes are unregulated, bills are huge and customers have been misled about costs. Many buyers and tenants were unaware that they were forced to be part of a District Heating scheme when they purchased or rented their flat and many were led to believe that heating costs would be minimal. The reality is very different, and unless these schemes are independently regulated there is nothing to prevent the energy companies continuing to hike the prices (especially the daily standing charge). In one such scheme if an occupant turned the heating off completely and did not use a drop of hot water they would still have to pay £400 a year in standing charges. This is in addition to the normal electricity bill for all other power in the home. Some District Heating schemes are signed up to the Heat Trust, but this is a voluntary scheme run by the big companies themselves and will never therefore be an adequate substitute for the redress provided by a sector Ombudsman.
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