From fans to pan­els, home heat­ing units are fly­ing off Greece’s shelves

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - IOANNA FOTIADI

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 cou­ple of weeks, the rel­a­tively cold 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-andtested 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.

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