District Heating

Centralised systems that produce and distribute heat to multiple buildings or residential areas from a single source. We are the longest-established supplier and installer of steel & PEX pre-insulated pipe systems in the UK, with a large stock of district heating pipes maintained here in the UK.

What is district heating?

District heating is a centralised system that produces and distributes heat to multiple buildings or residential areas from a single source.  This typically involves a central plant generating heat, often from a zero or low carbon heat source, and the distributing the hot water through a network of pre-insulated pipes (sometimes called a “heat network” or “district heating pipes”) resulting in minimal heat loss.  It’s an energy efficient way to provide heating for communities, reducing reliance on separate heating systems within dwellings. District heating is an established technology with many district heating systems currently in use in the UK and elsewhere (Sweden and Denmark in particular).

In the UK, district heating currently provides about 3% of total heat. Under the government’s strategy for net-zero this is forecast to increase to around 20% by 2050.

How does district heating help achieve net-zero?

District heating can contribute to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by enabling the use of more sustainable and low-carbon heat sources.  The centralised nature of district heating systems allows for the integration of renewable/green energy sources, such as large-scale heat pumps, energy recovered from waste or industrial processes, biomass, hydrogen, geothermal, or solar energy.  Additionally, district heating facilitates the implementation of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which increase overall energy efficiency by simultaneously producing heat and electricity from a single source.

District heating is sometimes described an energy agnostic as it is not dependent on any one energy source and means that the central energy source can be changed as technology changes without the need to change heating systems within individual dwellings. Consequently district heating facilitates future transitioning to low-carbon energy sources as they become available, or technology develops.  The efficiency gains and flexibility in heat production make district heating a valuable component in sustainable urban planning and the transition towards a net-zero carbon future.

Durotan - District heating pipe suppliers

We are the longest-established supplier and installer of steel & PEX pre-insulated pipe systems in the UK, with a large stock of district heating pipes maintained here in the UK.

  • Supplied & installed over 5,000 projects
  • Long established relationships with our manufacturing partners and suppliers, therefore able to provide extremely competitive prices
  • Pre-insulated pipes manufactured to all relevant British Standards
  • A tailored service to suit each client and project
  • Suppliers & installers to both public and private sectors including airports, prisons, MOD, universities, hospitals, community heating, residential projects
  • Experienced and appropriately resourced and trained team of in-house designers, engineers, contract managers, CAD operators and installers
  • Integrated civil and multi-utility solutions, reducing project management complexity and cost
  • Provide pre-insulated pipes to suit all applications, pressure and temperature ranges
  • Outstanding Health & Safety record

District heating or individual in-dwelling heat pumps?

District heating therefore provides a mechanism to decarbonise heat as alternative to installing heat pumps in individual dwellings.


Depending on factors such as climate, available energy sources and housing density, district heating can be preferable to individual heat pump systems due to:

District Heating

1. Efficiency. Due to its centralised approach district heating can achieve high levels of efficiency that often out-perform individual heat pump systems.

2. Utilisation of multiple energy sources. District heating allows for the integration of various energy sources. For example, a district heating system could utilise a central large-scale heat pump (based on a more efficient energy source e.g. river or ground, rather than air source typically used in individual domestic heat pumps) integrated to include other available green energy sources (such as waste heat recovered from nearby industrial applications) as well as, for example, solar energy to provide electricity for running the heat pump itself.

3. Reduced individual system costs. In district heating, the costs of installing and maintaining the heating infrastructure are shared among multiple users.  This can lead to cost savings compared to individual heat pump installations.  Furthermore, for pre-existing housing stock, there is no requirement for extensive modifications to the existing heating system (e.g. increasing radiators sizes or installing under-floor heating) often required for a domestic heat pump system.

4. Consistent performance in cold weather. District heating systems can provide consistent and reliable heating in cold weather, where domestic heat pumps might experience reduced efficiency or require additional energy to operate efficiently.

5. Space, noise and aesthetics. District heating requires little in dwelling plant and can integrate into an existing internal heating system. The plant required for a domestic heat pump systems can take up significant internal and external space. Heat pump systems generate noise near the dwelling which can be problematic and can also be unsightly.

6. Long-term planning and infrastructure. District heating encourages long-term urban planning, allowing for efficient infrastructure development. It can be easier to implement large-scale sustainable solutions with district heating compared to widespread adoption of individual heat pumps and offers greater flexibility to adapt as technology develops in the future.

7. Reduced pressure on the National Grid.  The widespread adoption of individual domestic heat pumps will transition the UK from gas as the predominant energy source for heating to electricity, creating substantial additional demands on the National Grid.  This comes at a time when the grid has only partially decarbonised its existing generation capacity.  District Heating can reduce this pressure by utilising other green sources of energy, utilise combined heat and power systems to simultaneously producing heat and electricity from the same heat source, and/or incorporating electricity generation (such as solar) to contribute to their own electricity requirements.