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All that hot water…how Minibems delivers heating as a managed service

1.21 gigawatts!!!!!!
It would take the 1.21GW Flux Capacitor (the key to time travel in the film, ‘Back to the Future’) six years non-stop to provide for the U.K.’s annual space heating needs. Space heating accounts for 42% of the total UK Energy usage, around 66,000 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy used annually.


We know that most space heating, particularly on communal heating networks, is very inefficient. We could potentially save many thousands of GWh (allowing more time for, uhm, time travel) by applying such principles as automatic and constant optimisation of heating circuits and ensuring that the Delta T is as wide as possible.

Note: Delta T is the temperature difference between the flow, outgoing water, and the return water going back to the boiler.

Given the huge slice of the energy pie that space heating represents it makes sense to manage that heating. This has lead Minibems to a point where we now offer a mix of hardware and software that deliver a comprehensive heating management solution. 

The underlying values of ongoing heat network management are that of commitment, innovation and collaboration. These allow us to improve service, deliver value, gather and analyse data to pursue continual improvement. 

A comprehensive managed service will replace a number of aspects of business as usual heating network solutions. By replacing the mechanical with an Internet of Things (IoT) approach the heat network becomes visible at every point of use, and at every juncture of activity – be it generation, distribution, storage, etc.

We have found that heating networks suffer from similar systems that reduce performance, efficiency, while damaging the reputation of the heating network operator.

1. Constant volume circuits

The flow rate of most primary and secondary heating circuits is determined by mechanical ‘dumb’ valves which effectively over-deliver volume flow rate around the systems. This means that the delivery of heat to the buildings is not matching the actual rate of heat use of the building itself. In low load scenarios, which exist most of the time, this results in low Delta T on all circuits and higher than necessary return temperatures. Additionally, a large amount of electricity will be utilised in running pumps at unnecessarily fast speeds.

2. Constant temperature circuits

Many of the heating circuits are constant temperature and so there is no variation of radiator temperature according to outside temperature. This leads to demand cycling and therefore boiler cycling. If flow temperatures are higher than required then return temperatures are consequently higher to boilers, so reducing efficiency.

3. Metering & billing systems do not function

This leads to lost revenue for landlord, potentially tens of thousands of pounds per year with initial CapEx on the HIU never fully recovered.

4. System imbalances starve some tenants of heat and hot water

Since many heat networks were installed, system balance has not been achieved, and some tenants have inadequate heating and hot water whilst others have over-supply.

5. HIUs continuously bypass heat even when there is no demand, costing tenants money

Domestic hot water plate exchangers continuously bypass heat, adding to tenants operating costs, as well as destroying Delta T on the network.These problems are allowed to persist if the service provider and operator do not work together to resolve the issues. Due to the nature of the IoT, these problems can be resolved at any level required; from the individual flat, floor or block through to the site, portfolio and ultimately the the national level.

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Interested in finding out how we can optimise your heat network?

Contact Minibems today