One in two households in Greece cut food expenses in order to be able to pay their electricity and heating bills, a research conducted by Greece’s Consumers Association EKPOIZO within the framework of the European program “Reverter”, with the cooperation of the Laboratory of Mining Technology and Environmental Mining of NTUA (project coordinator) and the Center for Renewable Sources and of Energy Saving (ENERGY). The research was conducted among households in Athens and Attica.
- 75% of Greek household reduced the use of heating and about 50% the use of hot water
The survey data show the magnitude of energy poverty in Greece. It shows that a large share of households are at risk of energy poverty, which could be mitigated through home energy upgrading programs, which should be accompanied by a greater subsidy to the energy vulnerable, less bureaucracy and targeted information on the programs and the optimal use of available energy resources (green energy).
Notably, around half of households report not being able to keep their homes sufficiently warm or cool. A fifth of households reported belated payment of energy bills, while around 5% said they have experienced a recent power/gas cut in the last 12 months.
- Households reported health problems due to insufficient heating
In addition, according to the survey findings, approximately one third of households report health problems related to insufficient heating and/or the presence of high humidity at home (36.15%).
Approximately 80% of households have reduced electricity use – more than 75% heating use and around 50% hot water use – to be able to pay for energy in the last 12 months.
About 36% of households spend more than 10% of their net income on their energy costs and 67.23% said that energy suppliers do not treat low-income consumers fairly and especially facilitate them through ability to settle debts in more installments.
Socio-economic profile of participants
81% of households consisted of two to four people. In addition, about a fifth of households surveyed had at least one member with a disability or long-term illness, and 16.3% had at least one member who was long-term unemployed.
All households with a net monthly income of less than €680 said they were experiencing serious problems of survival, and around 75-80% of households with an income between €680 and €1,250 said they were struggling to make ends meet.
This percentage drops to 50-60% for households with an income between 1,251 and 1,950 euros.
Characteristics of houses and heating systems
About 40% of homes were built before 1980 and lack basic insulation specifications.
22.6% were built between 1981 and 1995, while 23.4% were built between 1996 and 2005, and the remainder after 2006.
71.42% stated that they own a home, while it is noteworthy that 31.9% have loans and mortgages.
About 56% heat their homes using central heating systems, dominated by heating oil (41.1%) and natural gas (14.5%).
The remaining households mainly use air conditioning systems (13.9%), individual heating with natural gas (12.3%) and electrical appliances (4.6%).
It is interesting to note that 9 out of 10 of those who have heating oil central heating and 8 out of 10 of those who have natural gas central heating also use additional heating systems, mainly air conditioners (46.09%) and electrical appliances (25 .58%).
About 2.5% of the participants state that they do not heat their home at all.
About 20% of households operate the heating system for less than 2 hours a day or not at all and 35% from 2 to 4 hours a day. As a result, more than half of households report an indoor temperature lower than the WHO recommended room temperature of between 18-21ºC.
This particular finding is particularly worrying, because the percentage of households reporting health problems due to insufficient heating for a home temperature between 15-18°C, is twice the corresponding percentage for a home temperature between 18-21°C, while the percentage for a home temperature below 15oC is about four times higher.
The average total energy cost per year is approximately 1,900 euros.
Energy expenditure is affected by house size, type of heating system and household characteristics as a unemployed households tend to spend less.
Difficulty to make ends meet
Overall, 47.5% of households said they struggle to meet monthly expenses and only 33.62% can get by on current income, while 10.5% live comfortably.
In order to pay for electricity and heating costs in the last 12 months;
- one in two households has cut back on food
- about one in five households cut on medicine
- four in five have cut back on electrical appliances and lighting
- one in two on warm water
- three out of four households cut on home heating,
- four out of five households have cut back on entertainment and three out of five on travel.
No data about the period of time when the research was conducted are available, however, it should be recalled that the government has been subsidizing electricity bills for many and heating bills for a few since last year.
The EU Commission has urged its members to cut energy support measures to their citizens by end of 2023.