There was a time when people in Greece would look forward to the prospect of snow with delight – not anymore. Despite the mildness of the last few weeks, the relatively cold start to winter compared to last year has created an endless headache for most households, with heating becoming the central topic of debate at almost every meeting of residents of apartment buildings.
It is estimated that just one in three apartment buildings in Greece has decided to turn on the central heating this winter and just one in five has purchased heating oil, with the rest relying on natural gas.
Fearing the size of electricity bills from the use of air conditioning – coupled with warnings about rising smog levels due to the increased use of fireplaces and wood-burning stoves – has most people in Greece facing the dilemma of how to heat their homes as effectively and economically as possible.
“Consumers began showing an interest in alternative forms of heating after November 22,” Apostolos Siokos, an executive at a large electronics retailer, told Kathimerini recently. “We have already sold more heating units that we did throughout the winter last year.”
Siokos explains that with every cold spell stores run out of heating units, adding that many households experimented with various forms of heating last year and have now settled on the best options for their needs.
The options vary and depend on the size of the area people want to heat, the climate in their region and, most importantly, how much they can afford to pay. The most popular option this year appears to be the heating panel, with prices ranging from 50 to 130 euros for mid-range products and up to 200 euros for more advanced models. It is also a relatively efficient option, using electricity costing approximately 2.50 to 3 euros for eight hours of usage.
“Heating panels are efficient under certain conditions, such as being placed in a smallish room that doesn’t have a high ceiling,” a salesman at a central Athens electronics store, who preferred to remain unnamed, told Kathimerini.
Heating panels are sold as wall attachments or as independent units that can be wheeled to different parts of a home.
“This is relatively new technology that appeared on the Greek market three years ago. Sales have gone up this year because consumers do their own market research and ask a lot of questions before making a purchase,” the salesman said.
Infrared heating panels are also doing brisk business, even though they cost significantly more to purchase – some 500 euros on average. The advantages of spending more, however, are that they use less electricity and can heat larger spaces.
Kerosene heaters are also a popular option at an average cost of 300-500 euros, though the fact that there aren’t many outlets to purchase kerosene to fuel the units puts off many buyers.
More environmentally conscious consumers tend to opt for heaters that are fueled by wood pellets, whose prices range from 600 to 2,500 euros depending on where they’re manufactured.
Last but not least are the tried-and-tested forms of heating such as oil radiators (costing up to 170 euros), which provide good heat but use a lot of electricity, and fan heaters (15-40 euros), which are good for small spaces. Quartz heat lamps appeared on the market last year and are affordable at between 30 and 60 euros, but have failed to gain many fans as they are costly to run.