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District heating system with heated units nearby

District heating systems

District heating systems can distribute the heat for hot water and space heating from a wood fuel boiler or a combined heat and power (CHP) plant for use in domestic, public sector and commercial units. This allows capital costs to be spread over a number of properties.

District heating systems can range in size from two properties heated by one small boiler, hundreds of properties heated by one large central heating plant, to coverage of entire cities.

District heating systems are more suitable for areas of high population density since the investment per household will be lower.

Since they allow the high capital cost of this equipment to be spread across a number of properties, district heating systems can provide greater cost effectiveness than localized boilers. Individual buildings served by the scheme will benefit from reduced energy costs and reduced costs in terms of individual buildings' investment in heating equipment

A district heating system comprises a network of insulated pipes which deliver heat in the form of hot water or steam; there are feed and return lines. Usually the pipes are installed underground but there are also systems with over ground pipes. Within the system heat storages may be installed to even out peak load demands.

Although systems are usually owned by one landlord, it is becoming increasingly common for the system and heat to be provided by an energy services company (ESCo).

District heating is a long-term commitment requiring high initial capital input.