This Autumn is the climax to our year-long research project into optimising existing Heat Networks (what else would we be talking about?!) with our user-friendly report being released in the next month. Getting perhaps a little too excited, we will be sharing some of our initial findings with you weekly posed around three simple questions in the lead up to the launch: Are you turned on? Are you in charge? and Are the right buttons being pushed?
ARE THE RIGHT BUTTONS BEING PUSHED?
Having already discussed the technical and contractual post-implementation considerations, the focus area for the last of our trio of blogs looks into the behavioural elements that can influence and optimise heat network operation.
The key stakeholders that are often considered to have a behavioural influence are the customers that control the end heat output. This is indeed a key area due to their understanding of heat networks, of the controls, of the energy bill tariffs and of being energy conscious. Each area brings up set of potential opportunities to improve overall optimisation when overcome.
In terms of controls, heat networks typically run with the interfaces that were installed at completion. Original controls may have been set up poorly with incorrect timings and temperatures, been operated incorrectly and left unchecked, or had poor knowledge handover between operators. All factors may lead to sub-optimal operational performance by the current operator of the existing network due to the complexity surrounding the controls.
While in certain instances it may be feasible to change or upgrade the user interfaces, it may not be necessary or cost effective. A soft landings approach to explaining controls and running workshops to make informed decisions is often a beneficial and vital in optimising the overall system. This approach should be employed across the lifecycle of the system, and not just on hand-over for new systems. Existing networks should routinely perform checks within the controls and provide training to both new staff and those that require it in order to make informed decisions.
So are the right buttons being pushed? Have you reviewed your controls? Do the end users understand the controls to make an informed decision?
These three questions might be slightly tongue and cheek in language, but do highlight several of the main points that CBxchange has identified from the lasts’ year of research. In true CBx fashion, we have been working collaboratively across the industry to collect an evidence base of cases studies and knowledge from experts to identify the issues and find the potential low cost/ quick win solutions to optimise the existing heat networks within the UK.
Our launch report signifies the end of this research phases, with our post-implementation fixes breaking down into three main sections: Technical, contractual and behavioural. Within this user report, we provide a range of common barriers, practical solutions, list KPIs and the next steps in order for you to enable our underperforming or dormant system to not only work for you, but towards our overall targets.
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