District Heating – an effective and environmentally efficient method of heating residential areas
In a district heating system, heat is generated in a central location and then distributed via a network of insulated pipes to provide both space heating and heating for domestic hot water to a number of buildings. Heat is supplied to the individual dwellings directly or indirectly. The direct option is ideal for use with low-pressure systems and provides heating direct from the main circuit to the dwelling.
In the indirect version, heat exchanger stations are used to connect the district heating network to individual buildings/dwellings in order to deliver heat and hot water at the appropriate temperatures to the households. Stations can vary in size and can supplying heat to a number of dwellings (flats) or to just one dwelling (a family house).
District heating schemes can vary in size from a village network connected to a few family houses to citywide networks, like the ones in Sofia and Plovdiv, providing heat to numerous apartment buildings. In many residential areas, district heating could be the most cost-effective and clean option for heating provision because plain hot water circulates in the district heating network eliminating the risk of fuel spillages, explosions/fires and air-pollution that may happen due to fuel supply and combustion in or next to individual dwellings.
Another advantage of district heating is that heat can be supplied to the system from a range of sources allowing for selecting the most economical one for a particular residential area. Sources could include: boilers using renewable fuels (e.g. biomass), boilers recovering waste heat from power generation, or water heaters using heat from renewable sources such as solar, geothermal or heat pumps.
To benefit from a cost effective and high quality district heating service, the householders should demand from the utility companies to guarantee provision at all times of:
- Sufficient and reliable supply of heat
- High energy efficiency of heat generation, transmission and distribution
- Accurate heat metering
If householders are interested in getting connected to a district heating network or upgrading the existing central heating installations, they are advised to contact the local district heating company. Many district heating companies are collaborating with the local banks participating in the REECL Programme and may be able to assist in providing advice and arranging financing for optimal solutions.