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Heating Dispatcher

Traditionally, heating costs in multi-occupancy buildings with district heating weren't broken down individually. This meant that each occupant paid a portion of the building's total consumption, according to the fees or based on the surface area of his or her apartment, regardless of personal consumption. However, since 31 March 2017 heating costs must be individually broken down by law. The goal is to allow more economical occupants to spend less on heating and in particular to ensure that individual management of heating use limits waste and the CO2 emissions produced by domestic heating.

What is a heating dispatcher for?

To more effectively distribute district heating expenses between a building's occupants based on their actual consumption, by law each radiator must be fitted with an electronic device that measures and records the emission of heat: this is called a heating dispatcher.
  • What's the law on heating dispatchers?
Article 26 of the Act of 17 August 2015 on the Energy Transition for Green Growth requires individual heating costs to be prepared in every building where the heating system doesn't need to be changed in order to fit dispatchers. Subsequently, decree no. 2016-710 of 30 May 2016 defined the terms under which the legislation would be applied, notably establishing the mandatory dates for switching on measuring devices based on a multi-occupancy building's consumption: from 31 March 2017 in the case of buildings with a consumption of over 150 kWh/m2 per year and from 31 December 2019 if the consumption is below the threshold set by the ministries for energy and construction, i.e. 120 kWh/m2 per year.
The law therefore states that all multi-occupancy buildings with district heating must be fitted with heating dispatchers or thermal energy meters depending on their heating system. The only types exempt are hotels and sheltered housing, buildings where it isn't technically possible to measure or regulate the individual consumption of heating and buildings where complying with the measure would mean changing the entire heating installation.
  • Division of heating costs and energy savings
There's every reason to believe that individually breaking down heating costs encourages a building's occupants to change their habits in order to save on their energy bill. This reduces waste and average consumption in multi-occupancy buildings, something that's been seen in countries like Germany and Belgium, where installing heating dispatchers has saved occupants of the buildings concerned an average of €170 every year. According to the French environment and energy conservation agency (ADEME), average energy savings of 15% can be made by individually breaking down heating costs.

How does a heating dispatcher work?

A heating dispatcher needs to be installed on each radiator and continuously measures the heat emitted.
  • How a heating dispatcher works
A heating dispatcher usually has two electronic sensors: one that measures the surface temperature of the radiator and another that measures the temperature in the room. The calculation of each home's consumption factors in the difference between these two temperatures and the power of the radiator on which the dispatcher is installed. Each year, the consumption index recorded by the dispatcher is read, then reset. To guarantee safe operation of the device and prevent fraud, heating dispatchers are secured and any work on the device not carried out by an authorised technician is immediately identified.
  • Meter readings
The decree of 23 April 2012 states that the meters must be able to be read without having to enter residences. There are two ways to read the meters: a radio reading taken by a technician in the common areas or a remote reading using a transmitter station placed in the building.
The order of 27 August 2012 states that readings must be taken at least once per year and that each home's occupants must receive a statement of their heating consumption every year. To provide comparative data, the previous year's consumption must appear on the statement, as well as the average heating consumption in the building.

Dividing heating costs

How do heating and energy bills take into account the information that heating dispatchers collect?
  • Division of heating costs
Firstly, it's worth noting that the heating bill in a multi-occupancy building isn't completely individualised. For example, the boiler servicing and subscription costs are equally divided between the occupants and just 70% of energy costs are actually divided up based on the consumption measured by the distributors.
  • The exposure or situation coefficients
To ensure that the division of costs doesn't penalise less well-insulated homes that use more heating to maintain a comfort temperature indoors, the law also takes each home's thermal situation into account. A situation coefficient is applied, for example in the case of apartments exposed to the north or located underneath roofs. Discover all our products

Installing a heating dispatcher

Each dispatcher needs to be installed on a radiator and set up by a professional. The installation process differs depending on the type of radiators in your home, their power, where they are, etc. All of the dispatchers therefore need to be calibrated to provide an accurate measurement. There are strict installation and assembly rules for heating dispatchers, which are specified by the standard FR EN834. For example, heating dispatchers must be installed in the middle of the width of radiators and in the upper third of their height, regardless of whether the radiator is tubular, panelled or contains several sections.

How much does a heating dispatcher cost?

  • The cost of a heating dispatcher
The estimated cost of this device for each occupant in a building is fairly modest, at just €4 to €7 per month for the rental, servicing and reading costs. This can vary depending on the size of the building, and in some cases it's better to buy the dispatchers rather than rent them. It's also worth remembering that the cost of a heating dispatcher can be quickly offset by the energy savings made if you adopt the right habits.
  • Subsidies for heating dispatchers
Because a heating dispatcher is a device designed to improve a home's energy efficiency, you may be eligible for a tax credit if you purchase and install one. Thanks to the "CITE" (energy transition tax credit) you can deduct 30% from the cost of installing a heating dispatcher. You are also eligible for a lower VAT rate of 5.5%, as well as energy savings certificates, subsidies that are usually paid by energy providers. If necessary, multi-occupancy buildings can also apply for a joint interest-free eco-loan.

However, note that most subsidies are for purchasing heating dispatcher devices rather than renting them. This means you can only receive one if your management agent decides to rent the dispatchers.

Why fit thermostatic valves?

It seems clear that the measure for dividing heating costs will allow the inhabitants of many homes to save on their energy bill. Nevertheless, the French environment and energy conservation agency says that just installing heating dispatchers isn't enough to make energy savings if consumers don't adopt economical and responsible habits.
Regulations also encourage the installation of regulating devices in homes such as thermostatic valves, which enable the temperature to be adjusted in each room based on how it is occupied and used. This allows occupants to cut down on heating while they're away or limit heating wastage in unoccupied rooms. In doing so they manage the amount of energy they consume and give themselves a good chance of cutting their energy bill.

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