District Heating

Whether you're a tenant or homeowner, your apartment may be fitted with district heating. This means that instead of having your own heating system, you're connected to a boiler that's shared with other occupants and heats the entire home or building.

District heating is usually supplied by a boiler, which may run on gas, oil, wood or electricity. In some cases it might also use a geothermal system or be connected to a district heating system.

When is district heating turned on and off?

By law, there are no specific dates for turning district heating in a multi-occupancy building on and off. They are usually stated in the property's regulations. If not, they must be set by the managing agent. Most of the time, district heating is started on 15 October and stopped on 15 April, although this may vary depending on the building's geographical location and the local climate.

The benefits of district heating in a multi-occupancy building

District heating allows residents to share the cost of heating a building. With this type of system, the owners of residences in a building make savings on the initial outlay, as only one boiler needs to be bought and installed, rather than one in each residence. There are also savings to be made when buying fuel (gas, wood, oil, etc.), as you can negotiate with a supplier when purchasing the larger quantities required. Maintenance of the heating system is also shared between the building's residents and is cheaper than maintaining multiple individual boilers.

District heating also saves space in each home. A communal boiler is fitted in a common area, often in the basement, and doesn't take up space in each residence. Although the fuel (oil, wood) still needs to be stored somewhere, it can be placed in a dedicated area of the building rather than in the residents' apartments, as is the case with individual heating, thereby saving a significant amount of space in occupants' homes.

District heating is also easier to manage. It's usually handled by the managing agent, or by a maintenance company that's responsible for servicing, replacing parts, refilling the fuel, etc. The repair service is usually efficient and easy to contact, and unlike individual heating you don't have to find a boiler technician if there's a problem. Discover all our products

The drawbacks of district heating

There are also disadvantages to communal management. Residents don't get to choose which type of heating is used in their home and the decisions about the supplier and equipment used have to be made collectively.

Residents can ask their management agent to change the start and stop dates, for example if winter comes early or the temperature in spring is very mild and means that no heating is needed. However, the management agent is entitled to not change the dates if most residents aren't in favour or if the temperature isn't low enough, i.e. below 19°. In some cases the multi-occupancy contract simply doesn't allow the start and stop dates to be changed. No further recourse is available if the management agent refuses, meaning that the occupants have no option other than to use individual backup heating appliances.

Furthermore, although article R131-20 of the French construction and housing code states that the heating system must enable residences to maintain a maximum temperature of 19 degrees, in reality it's difficult to maintain a uniform temperature everywhere, particularly on different floors.

Until very recently, district heating systems had another major drawback: because energy costs were equally divided between all residences, regardless of how much energy each home used, there was no incentive to make energy savings, and the most economical homes (or residents absent the most) paid the same as everyone else. However, this has changed with the new law.

District heating: the new regulation

The new regulation of decree no. 2016-710 of 30 May 2016 establishes new rules for buildings with district heating. They must contain measuring devices to determine each home's energy consumption. This measure means that each apartment's energy bill is adjusted accordingly. In place since 31 March 2017, this regulation states that all buildings must comply with the new standard in 2019.

Nevertheless, some buildings will be exempt: those where breaking down energy costs individually isn't technically possible and where significant modifications need to be made to comply with legislation, for example if updating the heating system as a whole proves too costly.

Solutions are available to achieve a different temperature in different rooms in your home, such as the district heating starter kit, which lets you remotely control all your radiators from a single app on your smartphone.

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