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Heat metering

by Linda Bertelsen

Heat metering in district heating systems is a critical tool for accurately measuring and billing heat energy consumption in multi-unit buildings, industrial complexes, and entire urban areas, promoting energy efficiency and ensuring fairness in cost allocation among consumers. It also plays a role in advancing the sustainability of urban heating systems.

Technician reading the heat meter to check consumption

One way of measuring the heat consumption of a multi-storage building is to install a heat meter at the point of heat supply to the building and place heat allocators at the radiators in the flats.

The heating and cooling of buildings is one of the most energy-intensive demands in our society. Meeting climate and efficiency goals for heating and cooling calls for a sustainable strategy that combines increased use of renewable energy while efficiently ensuring the security of supply.

To optimise existing district heating networks for higher efficiency and to integrate the growing number of fluctuating heat sources into the distribution network takes exact knowledge – knowledge based on ongoing insight into the flow, temperatures, and actual system capacity. And fundamental knowledge of maintaining and utilizing the assets in the best possible way.

Whether it’s about knowing how to manage and forecast production or knowing exactly at how low a temperature you can run the grid, intelligent metering solutions and frequent data provide the insights and tools needed to connect data across the entire value chain and put the right knowledge in place for daily operations as well as for long-term planning and maintenance.

What are the components of heat meters?

Heat meters typically consist of several components, including flow sensors, temperature sensors, and a calculator or data logger. These components work together to measure the flow rate of hot water and the temperature difference between the supply and return pipes, which are used to calculate the heat energy consumed.

Types of heat meters

Various types of heat meters are available, including mechanical meters with rotating disks, ultrasonic meters, and electronic meters. Electronic meters are more accurate and versatile, often providing additional data such as real-time consumption information.

Regulations and standards

Many countries and regions have regulations and standards governing heat metering in district heating systems. These regulations often specify the type of metering equipment to be used, installation requirements, and billing practices to ensure fairness and accuracy.

Data Management in heat metering systems

Modern heat metering systems often include data management and communication capabilities. Data from heat meters can be collected remotely, allowing for more efficient monitoring and billing processes. This data can also be used for performance analysis and optimization of the district heating system.

Energy efficiency and environmental benefits

Heat metering can play a role in improving the overall energy efficiency of district heating systems. Accurate measurement and monitoring of heat consumption can help identify areas of inefficiency and enable better system management.

By encouraging more efficient use of heat energy, heat metering can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a lower environmental impact, primarily when district heating systems are powered by renewable or low-carbon energy sources.

In Denmark, paying for heat and other utilities like water and electricity is mandatory according to consumption. Therefore, all district heating installations have energy meters and heat allocators.

The installation of heat meters does not, in itself, bring along energy savings; it is the consumer´s awareness of his consumption that motivates the consumer to consider how energy can be saved. Often, simple measures are taken by the consumer to reduce heat consumption, such as closing the radiator valve instead of opening the window or avoiding excessive use of hot water. Still, it is important to remember that energy savings are initiated by the consumer´s awareness about his consumption.

Modern energy meters are provided with facilities for remote reading. This is widely used by the district heating company to conduct better operation planning and to give alarm signals when pre-set values are transgressed, e.g., through leaking. Remote reading also provides facilities for the consumer to follow his consumption via the internet.