Five ways to reduce return temperatures in Heat Networks

Reducing return temperatures is one of the largest challenges of heat network operators. However, what can an operator do to reduce return temperature through commercial management and what contractual mechanisms have proven successful in other countries?

Reducing return temperatures in Heat Networks

UK heat networks have on average much higher supply and return temperatures than that of Sweden. Swedish heat networks typically operate with supply temperatures of 70°C and return temperatures around 40-50°C and the discussion is currently on how to deliver the 4th generation heat networks with even lower temperature networks. However, in the UK, the discussion still focuses on reducing return temperatures from very high levels (80-90°C) to 60-70°C.

In a recent workshop, Swedish and British researchers, ESCOs, consultants and technology suppliers engaged in a workshop trying to identify best practices in commercial management of return temperatures in a UK market context. The discussion resulted in five key conclusions.

Five ways to reduce return temperatures:

  • Use price and tariff models (scheme or production, depending on volume or capacity) based on incentives and not penalties.
  • To reduce the overall temperature in the network, do not let the one customer with the highest temperature requirements decide tariffs for all. Make an exception deal for customers requiring high supply temperatures and be transparent in usage versus charging.
  • Engage in energy efficiency discussions with customers at an early stage in the development and at the right level. To engage with customers successfully, consider a broader recruitment base internally and involve relevant people to speak with customers on same level.
  • Create success cases with one client as a mean of credibility of reducing their energy consumption and reducing their energy bills.
  • Control on the building level should be compatible with the overall network.

More information:

If you have any specific questions regarding the workshop wish to see a more detailed summary of the discussion topics and conclusions, please contact the Heat Networks team.

Swedish participants during the workshop were SwecoFVBResearch Institutes of Swedenthe Swedish Environmental Research InstituteHalmstad UniversitySWEPNorrenergiBusiness Sweden and the Swedish Energy Agency.


Sweden is at the forefront of decentralised heat networks technology. Our aim for “Heat Networks – Sustainability by Sweden” is to facilitate knowledge sharing between British and Swedish stakeholders and develop and encourage environmental and economic best practice.

To find out how we can help you and your organisation, please contact our London-based “Heat Networks” team. We can introduce you to leading consultants, suppliers of technology and services who will be pleased to share know-how of the development of heat network solutions.


More News

Heat Networks out and about across the UK

Heat Networks out and about across the UK

Implementing innovations in existing heat networks schemes

Implementing innovations

From Manchester to Crawley: local authority-led heat networks projects

Local authority-led heat networks projects