Household energy bills ‘double in the winter’ as Portugal tries to keep warm
The chronically inefficient state of Portugal’s housing stock has been highlighted in a report commissioned by Quercus and carried out by the Sustainable Construction Portal.
Only one in a hundred Portuguese householders consider their home to be thermally comfortable, while nearly three-quarters saying they are cold in the house, leading to high heating bills.
Of the 1,000 respondents, 74% considered their homes to be cold in the winter, 25% said they are hot in the summer, and only 1% claimed that their home is thermally comfortable without having to spending a fortune on heating.
The association pointed out that the Portuguese pay for “the most expensive electricity in Europe” compared to income levels, so it is “natural that they tend to use only more clothing” to combat the cold at home.
Of the Portuguese who claim their homes are cold in the winter, 35% use more clothing and more heaters to keep warm, 21% use just heaters and 20% resort to the age old method of pulling on extra layers of clothing.
In the case of respondents who considered their homes to be cold, 21% said their heating bills alomost doubled in the winter to enable them to be comfortable, 37% say they do not have any insulation in their property and 35% did not know if their houses were insulated or not.
Most of those surveyed lived in buildings built between 1980 and 2004, most of which had double glazing but did not have window frames with a thermal break, rendering the double glazing ineffective.
Quercus said that in 2003, an investigation carried out by the University of Dublin concluded that Portugal is one of the European Union countries where a high number of people die each year due to a lack of insulation and heating in the house.
Among those interviewed who said they were cold in their homes, almost a quarter said they have developed respiratory and allergy problems as a result.
Quercus believes that government decision-makers and councils should try to understand how to avoid thermal discomfort, with local policies defined to promote the rehabilitation of existing buildings using insulation so that the heat generated in the house is not wasted.
Quercus points out that energy efficiency is a must and is stipulated in the European directive on the energy performance of buildings which requires that, as of January 1, 2019, that new public buildings, and from January 1, 2021, new private buildings, have an almost zero energy need.
As 40% of total energy consumption in the EU relates to buildings, increasing energy efficiency is one of the measures needed to reduce energy dependence and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The government has little interest in promoting energy efficiency as the 23% VAT earned from expensive energy bills is a monthly bonus for the treasury. The promotion of insulation use and solar heating systems would reduce the inefficient use of energy which the government relies on.
EU legislation deals only with new buildings, leaving the owners of existing high energy cost buildings paying needless amounts to keep warm in the winter and cool in the winter.
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