Washington District Heating

In Washington almost 1,019 households receive their heating and hot water from a District Heating system in the Oxclose, Albany and Fatfield areas. 

District Heating is the supply of heat and/or hot water from one source to a group of buildings. In this case, your District Heating system consists of a centralised boiler plant that delivers heat and hot water on demand to your home.

Households served by the District Heating system in Washington are unlikely to have a gas supply to their homes and instead receive heating and hot water from pipes leading from a nearby plant room. To ensure that each household connected to the system only pays for the energy it consumes, the supply is automatically metered and connected to a prepayment meter.

Gentoo work closely with Switch2 and Richard Irvin Energy Solutions who have been appointed as the service providers. They manage and maintain the District Heating system in Washington. Both companies provide a 24 hour helpline and maintenance programme that is available 365 days a year.

You will need to contact Switch2 on 0333 32 12 010 to register the heating in your name. One of their friendly engineers will call out to set it up for you and will be happy to explain how the system and controls work.

If you are a Gentoo customer, this will be arranged on your behalf by the Gentoo team. 

If you do not receive your welcome pack and are new to Switch2 you can call them on 03333212010 or email myaccount@switch2.co.uk.

Heating is paid for as part of a ‘pay as you go’ system. This means that you will not receive a bill for using the system.

There are two different types of meter. Depending on which one you have in your home you can pay in different ways. If you have a G3 or G4 meter you can pay for your heating by topping up a smart card which will be supplied by Switch2. You can top up from various outlets across the Washington area. These have been listed below:

  • Gentoo Office – The Galleries Shopping Centre
  • Oxclose convenience store – Oxclose Village Centre
  • Londis store – 48 Biddick Village Centre
  • Nicholson’s Garage, Blue House Lane, Concord (open 24 hours, 7 days per week)

If you have a newer G6 Smart meter you top up your smart card at any PayPoint outlet (www.paypoint.com), by visiting www.Switch2.co.uk or by downloading the Switch2 Quickpay App. You can also access Quickpay and top up by visiting www.quickpay.switch2.co.uk.

If you lose your payment card Switch2 will charge you a £5.00 administration fee for a replacement.

Gentoo purchase gas to fuel the plant room boilers at a bulk commercial rate and customers who purchase heating credits effectively pay Gentoo back for the gas that has already been purchased. There are associated charges with the maintenance of the boilers, pipework and metering that are also accounted for and included in the unit charge.

Energy companies also include maintenance charges in their unit cost along with Government implemented charges for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Gentoo keep costs to a minimum and any price increases are carefully considered. There has not been an increase in the tariff since April 2013 whereas Energy Companies tariffs rise on a regular basis.

If you have credit on your meter but no heating or hot water, a problem with the radiators or a leak to the system you should:

  • Contact Richard Irvin Energy Solutions on 0191 704 2501.
  • Select option 1 for heating issues

If you are calling out of the normal working hours (8am – 4.30pm, Monday to Friday) you will need to press 0 and to speak to an out of hours operators instead.

If you have a problem with your pre-payment meter, top-up payment card or the point of sale outlets you should contact Switch2 on 0333 3212010.

For more information about Switch2 visit www.switch2.co.uk.

There are many advantages of being part of a District Heating system. They include:

  • More responsive - Customers are part of a 24 hour monitoring and maintenance programme which can offer great peace of mind.
  • Back up boilers – In a communal plant room back up boilers can work to maintain heating and hot water to homes if one boiler fails. The second one will ignite automatically so as not to interrupt service.
  • No bills – As the Washington system is ‘pay as you go’ customers will not have to worry about quarterly bills.
  • System upgrade – Gentoo has started to upgrade plant rooms throughout Washington. Some plant rooms have already had an upgrade of the machinery and are benefiting from new more efficient boilers.
  • Maintenance -If you own your home, you don’t need to buy or service a boiler, this will be taken care of by your heating supplier

Like any central heating system the cost of paying for your heating rises in the colder months and reduces in the warmer months.

Rather than topping up less in the summer and more in the winter, Gentoo advise that you build up some credit during the summer to help you through the winter months.

Can I change my Energy Supplier?

You cannot change energy supplier if you are a District Heating customer as Gentoo purchase your gas in bulk and distribute it to your home. Gentoo make sure that you are on the best tariff regularly to get you the best value for money.

What do I do if I have a disability or special need?

You can authorise a friend or family member to manage your account, you just need to let Switch2 know. They will also make sure that your needs are met in the case of an emergency.   

Please contact them or log your special request via the vulnerability section on my.switch2.co.uk.

Why can’t I pay by direct debit?

Providing a direct debit service would occur running costs. We understand the importance of keeping costs low and by retaining the current ‘pay as you go’ system we can remain keeping our rates as low as possible. The ‘pay as you go’ system allows you to only use what you pay for so you don’t need to worry about occurring large bills.

I am not happy with the service, what do I do?

Gentoo, Switch2 and Richard Irvin Energy Solutions are committed to providing excellent customer service. If you are not happy and you haven’t been able to resolve them with Switch2 or Richard Irvin Energy Solutions, please contact Clare McInroy, Neighbourhood Coordinator at Gentoo on 0191 525 6122.

Tampering with the heating system

It is very important that you do not tamper the system. This includes the heating controls, meter, pipe-work and radiators. If, for example, you need to move a radiator (e.g. for decorating), you must contact your Neighbourhood Coordinator who will assist with your request. Please note that any remedial work required due to tampering with the system, may result in you being charged.

Communal Heating Fraud

Gentoo, Switch2 and Richard Irvin Energy Solutions are working together to eliminate the theft of gas from the District Heating system. Gentoo will be notified of customers or service users that have tampered with the heating controls and meters within their home to fraudulently obtain free heating and hot water. It is a criminal offence. Gentoo will contact Northumbria Police and legal action will be taken. In addition, any customers found to have tampered with the system will risk serious action that could put their tenancy at risk.