Over 15,000 heat customers can now benefit from free independent complaint resolution and minimum customer service standards.

This is through the launch of Heat Trust, an industry-led customer protection scheme that sets standards in key areas including performance, reliability and customer service.

The Energy Ombudsman will provide the independent complaints handling service to ensure fair treatment of customers.

Launched at Heat Conference, Heat Trust announced that E.ON, SSE Heat Networks and Metropolitan King’s Cross have become its first members.

Bindi Patel, head of scheme said: The launch of Heat Trust is a key milestone for the district heating sector, demonstrating its commitment to giving customers peace of mind in their heating and hot water supply.

I look forward to working with industry, government and consumer bodies to ensure Heat Trust provides effective protection to as many customers as possible.”

Lord Bourne, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, welcomed the launch of Heat Trust: “My priorities are keeping energy bills as low as possible for hard working families and businesses and ensuring everyone has access to reliable and low carbon energy.

“Heat networks play an important role in these priorities but they need to do so in a way that focuses on consumers, I am therefore happy to support the launch of the Heat Trust as the UK’s first independent consumer protection scheme for heat networks.”

Customers that live on heat networks registered to the scheme will be able to refer a complaint they may have with their supplier to Ombudsman Services: Energy for investigation.

Simon Morris, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ombudsman Services said: “We are delighted that Heat Trust has recognised the value and quality of independent redress and are proud to be providing the dispute resolution service for them. As of today, energy customers that use a heat network registered to the scheme have the extra reassurance that they will be protected if things don’t go to plan with their energy supply.

“As the value of customer service becomes increasingly important for both consumers and businesses, providing dispute resolution which is independent, free to the consumer, and at low cost to the industry, is an example of best practice.”