ECONOMY

Plan to help homes cut energy costs

A 200-million-euro government program aimed at helping property owners make their homes more energy efficient will start in June, the Environment, Energy and Climate Change Ministry said yesterday. The program will provide financial assistance for an upgrade to homes whose building permit was issued before 1980 and are located in zones where property is valued at less than 1,500 euros per square meter, as stated by the tax office. The financial aid will be provided in one of three ways: a loan with a subsidized interest rate, direct finance of the costs for improvement amounting to 30 percent and a deduction from tax amounts payable of up to 2,500 euros. The program was presented by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili who said that about 100,000 homes could benefit from the scheme. The biggest benefit for consumers, according to the minister, is that they can save up to 60 percent in energy consumption by insulating their homes. According to estimates provided by the ministry, a 100-square-meter home in northern Greece could save up to 1,500 euros per year in heating oil bills by being properly insulated. In order to qualify for the benefit, homeowners must declare annual income of less than 30,000 euros. Among the home improvements that will be funded by the program are doubled-paned windows with insulated frames and the replacement of old heating units with newer energy-efficient units.