Individual heating bills – a legal obligation

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Sherwood Park Biomass/Nat Gas District Heating Project

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures
Sherwood Park Biomass/Nat Gas District Heating Project

Heating bills contain some specific particularities, especially those produced by a heating network. The same thing holds true for the measurement of consumption. Following the French Decree No 2012-545 of 23 April 2012, heating costs in apartment buildings will now be individualized, by no later than March 31, 2017. What solutions can be put in place? What does this mean for the consumer? Explanations.


A regulatory evolution


Until 2012, the price of heating in collective housing was based on a principle of fairness according to Decree No. 74-908 of 29 October 1974. The bills were then established in proportion to the size of the apartment and operators’ fees. The individualisation of heating costs existed before 2012, but was respected for only 10% of French homes. Decree No 2012-545 of 23 April 2012 aims to systematize the installation of heat meters in apartment buildings.


One measure, two devices

If the law imposes the measurement of consumption, it does however give a choice of two devices for measuring the consumption:

– The electronic distributor is directly attached to the radiator. It calculates the emitted heat and ambient heat to determine the consumption of housing. This device is very suitable for a vertical distribution system (90% of buildings).

– The heat meter is installed at the outlet of a boiler. It consists of a thermometer which measures the temperature of the water leaving and coming back, and a counter to determine the volume of water used. It is particularly suited to a horizontal distribution network (10% of buildings, especially recent constructions).

An incentive to reducing consumption


The requirement enforcing the installation of individual consumption measuring devices aims to further empower consumers to reduce their energy consumption, which does not allow sufficient distribution of heating costs in proportion to the surface of the housing and the operators’ fees. The bill comprises 70% due to individual costs, calculated using the meter or the dispatcher, and only 30% due to common fuels, maintenance and power consumption of the installation. As 70% of the bill calculated individually, this leaves a lot of room for manoeuvre for the consumer to save money!

Exceptions to the rule

Decree No. 2012-545 on the distribution of heating costs does not apply to all dwellings in France. Among the buildings exempt from the decree are hotels, sheltered accomodation, buildings with mixed heating (collective and individual equipment) and apartment buildings whose construction permit application was obtained after June 1, 2001. Finally, the equipment is not mandatory in cases where it is technically impossible to install a measuring device or to significantly modulate the heat supply.


Image source: Flickr (Green Energy Futures – David Dodge)

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