User acceptance is an important part for low temperature district heating to be installed and used. Especially since it is often sold with arguments such as benefits for the customers, not only the environment. But do the customers really care?
Kerstin Sernhed from Lund University has meet resistance at both our sites where low temperature district heating has been installed while investigating the user experiences. Let’s see what she discovered!
In Xplorion, a building in Brunnshög where low temperature and ultra-low temperature district heating are being tested, the customers are faced with a few differences then if they would live in a normal apartment. Each apartment is equipped with a district heating substation and a display where the tenants can adjust their indoor temperature. The heat and domestic hot water is produced instantly in each flat through the heat exchanger and the energy use is measured and charged for individually. When asked, not everyone knows what low temperature district heating is, but most residence are happy with only paying for what they use. However, they thought the heat cost would be lower since they live in a low energy house.
In Østerby, Høje-Taastrup, four close by housing associations were offered to upgrade their current district heating system to a low temperature district heating system. Digging down the new pipes lead to some inconveniences to the households, as it normally does, emphasizing the need of good communication of when and where the digging and restoration will happen. Most households stated that they have not experienced any changes in indoor climate or hot water comfort due to their new system.
When installing the low temperature district heating system, Høje Taastrup Fjernvarme introduced a return temperature fee in their price model. When asked, most households answered that they did not understand the new price model. They accept it, but they don´t really understand why it is important to have a low return temperature from the building and what they can do to lower their costs acting on it. The intention from the company to include such a component is that they want the households to keep a good function in their heat exchanger and indoor heating system, however – if the households do not understand how to do this, this incitement falls short.
– Either the company must work much harder with their information to their customers, or maybe they should try another business model that would allow them to firmly help the customers with their installations. After all, it is the district heating company that profits from the increased system benefit that a low return temperature can provide to the system, says Kerstin Sernhed, Lund University.
Customers are happy to live more sustainable, and low temperature district heating is accepted as a solution for users as long as it works as it should. On the other hand, the studies in Xplorion and Østerby show that it is very important for low temperature systems that the customer installations work well and are well adjusted in the building. This requires a thorough work by the district heating operators, both when it comes to helping the customers with their equipment and when it comes to informing them how the system works.
Interested in more information?
This is a deliverable in the COOL DH-project who has not been published yet. However, we are more than happy to answer questions if you are interested in similar solutions. Please contact:
Kerstin Sernhed, Lund University, firstname.lastname@example.org