Greeks switch to gas, wood as heating oil sales nosedive

The steep increase in heating costs resulting from tax changes has forced Greeks to switch from heating oil to natural gas and fireplaces to heat their homes, new figures show.

The number of households connected to Attica’s natural gas grid rose from 260,000 in 2011 to 285,000 last year.

However, in the same area, consumption of gas, which is up to 40 percent cheaper than oil, dropped from 328 million cubic meters in 2011 to less than 272 million in 2012.

In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, it is estimated that 622,000 out of a total 1.4 million people used natural gas to heat their homes this winter.

Wood sales have risen by up to 100 percent over the past couple of years. Sales of woodstoves, not always of the best quality, rose by a similar percentage, it said.

In 2012 Greeks purchased 35 percent less heating oil compared to 2011, as consumption fell from 2.8 million tons to 1.8 million.