Almost 40% of Bulgarians Stay in the Cold at Home
Nearly 40 per cent of Bulgarians can not keep their homes warm enough. This share is the highest for the European Union, where the energy poor are on average 8%. This was announced yesterday by Deputy Energy Minister Zhecho Stankov before the Bulgarian National Radio. He quotes data suggesting that currently gas-supplied homes in our country are under 5 per cent, while in some European countries this share reaches 50-60 percent of households.
Investing in energy efficiency is the natural way to tackle energy poverty and that is the direction we have to take, Stankov said. He pointed out that about 7,500 households that want to switch from wood and coal heating to natural gas heating can be funded. The state covers up to 30% of the investment that households carry out in their home. And over a year ago, over 2500 households have taken advantage of this opportunity. This is also one of the long-term measures to deal with the problems of dirty air, Stankov said.
According to him, short-term measures are currently being implemented in Bulgaria to address this problem, but more important are long-term ones. "I am talking about direct payments to citizens who have a problem to provide heating, cooling or lighting to their homes, and it is more important that in Europe we have united around thinking about long-term measures, and such a measure is rather investing in energy efficiency and lowering the amount of energy needed to heat and cool a home, "he said.
A recent World Bank analysis indicated that in Bulgaria energy poor are people who spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills. They should be supported by the state. According to Jecho Stankov, however, a common definition needs to be drawn up across the EU. "The definition of energy poverty in Sweden would be one, and in Bulgaria it would be different." The institutions responsible for tackling the problem should be involved at all levels to ensure a better standard of living, "summed up Deputy Energy Minister.
80% of EU citizens live in cities, said Megan Richards of the EC's Directorate-General for Energy during an energy poverty forum that opened in Sofia yesterday. At the same time, Bulgaria is at the bottom in terms of the rate at which clean energy develops, she said.
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