How much does it cost to heat Portuguese homes in winter?

By Boman / Flickr

With the arrival of winter, the cold is felt in the homes of many Portuguese. However, there is a large portion of the population that does not have the money to heat them.

Low temperatures have knocked on the door in recent weeks, and electricity consumption in Portugal has increased in November.

According to REN, in November the consumption of electricity in Portugal grew 4% compared to last year.

For many families, the solution to get around the cold is to connect an oil heater or fan heater to the electricity socket. However, this option adds a cost to the monthly electricity bill. According to Expresso’s accounts, taking into account REN’s explanations, there are almost 39 cents more per hour in the electricity bill.

The newspaper exemplifies that an oil heater with 2000 watts of power will consume 2 kilowatt hours (kWh) for each hour turned on. If you consider the 15.8 cents per kWh of the regulated tariff, plus VAT, you arrive at a charge for a single heater of 38.9 cents per hour.

However, considering that the device is on for six hours a day, there are 2.33 euros more per day on the bill – which at the end of the month is almost another 70 euros.

For the 757,000 low-income families that benefit from the social tariff, the price of energy is lower. In the social tariff, the kWh price in the simple tariff is 12.76 cents, which means that the use of an oil heater for six hours a day generates a charge of 1.88 euros per day, or 56.4 euros per month.

The consumer protection association Deco has warned several times about the impact of these solutions (oil heaters, radiators, fan heaters) on the domestic bill, warning that air conditioners and pellet-fired stoves turn out to be the best solutions of heating.

According to Deco, investing in an air conditioner will save money almost 300 euros a year in electricity.

According to the most recent data from Eurostat, in the first half of this year, Portugal had the eighth most expensive electricity bill in Europe, with a final cost for families of 20.89 cents per kWh on average.

This is a value that is so below the European Union average (21.92 cents per kWh) and the euro zone (23.22 cents).

Why are our houses so cold?

In Portugal, the arrival of the cold also means a cooling of the interior of the houses.

“With the salaries in Portugal, people can only have houses like that” where it’s cold, he says Carlos Mineiro Aires, Chairman of the Order of Engineers, highlighting the lack of money for a more complete heating. However, this is not the only problem.

According to the president, “the biggest fallacy is that we have a mild climate.” This is because “it is common in Alentejo for a place with 45ºC in summer to reach -4 in winter. It’s a range of almost 50 degrees.”

In this sense, the culturally accepted idea that our climate is mild gave rise to buildings and houses where the thermal comfort was never a priority neither in summer nor in winter.

In the 1950s and the construction boom between the 1970s and 1980s “there were inadequate practices and materials on the market”, explains Carlos Mineiro Aires to Expresso.

Aline Warrior, coordinating architect of the Sustainable Construction Portal, corroborates these statements and says that the priority is always to lower the price, using petroleum-based materials to insulate the buildings.

Experts say that the most important will be change the mindset on how houses are built in Portugal.

ZAP //