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REVERTER’s survey on the energy needs of households in Athens Urban Area

Survey administration

The survey was conducted in the context of the REVERTER project (“Deep REnovation roadmaps to decrease households VulnERability To Energy poveRty – LIFE21-CET-ENERPOV-REVERTER”, which is co-funded by the LIFE Programme (Grant Agreement No 101076277). The survey was designed and implemented by the three Greek partners of the project, i.e. NTUA, EKPIZO and CRES, with the aim to map the energy needs of households and identify the direction of future energy saving measures to reduce their energy costs. In total, about 500 completed questionnaires were collected between May 25th and June 30th, 2023, via an online surveying platform from households residing in Athens Urban Area (also known as Greater Athens).

Socioeconomic profile

Most of the households (about 32%) included two persons, 23% three persons, 26% four or more persons, and 18.3% of them consisted of single-person households. Moreover, about one-fifth of the households who participated in the survey had at least one household member of any age with a disability or long-term illness, and 16.3% had at least one member in long-term unemployment.

The average net monthly income of the households that participated in the survey (including allowances, rental income, etc.) was €1,825 and the average total household expenditure per month for all items (including food/clothing/rent/loans/ entertainment/ transportation, etc.) was €1,430 (i.e. the ratio of total expenditure to net income was around 87%). 

Socioeconomic profile of households in Athens Urban Area

All households with a net monthly income below €680 said they are struggling to make ends meet, and about 75-80% of the households with an income between €680 and €1,250 said they find it difficult to make ends meet. This percentage decreases to 50-60% for households with an income between €1,251 and €1,950. In total, 47.5% of the households said that they are struggling to cope with current income, 33.1% are able to make ends meet on current income, and 10.5% live comfortably.

Housing and heating system characteristics in Athens Urban Area
Housing and heating system characteristics

About 40% of the dwellings were constructed before 1980 and lack basic insulation standards. Further, 22.6% were built between 1981 and 1995, 23.4% were built between 1996 and 2005 and the rest after 2006. Furthermore, 11.5% of the residences are less than 60 m2, 19.6% are between 60-80 m2, 35% are between 80-100 m2, 14.9% are between 100-120 m2, and the rest are over 120 m2. Most dwellings (i.e., 39.5%) are privately owned without financial obligations, followed by privately owned with financial obligations (loan, mortgage, etc.) (31.9%) and rental houses owned by an individual (22.6%). Also, a small percentage of dwellings have been provided free of charge by family, friends, employers, or other.

About 56% of participating households heat their homes using central heating systems, dominated by heating oil (41.1%) and natural gas (14.5%).  The rest of the households use other systems, mainly air-conditioning units (13.9%), individual heating with natural gas (12.3%, and electrical devices (4.6%). It is interesting to note that 9 out of 10 of those who have central heating with heating oil and 8 out of 10 of those who have central heating with natural gas are also using supplementary heating systems, mainly air conditioners and electrical devices, and about 2.5% of the participants state that they do not heat their homes at all.

Energy costs and poverty

About 20% of the households operate their heating system for less than 2 hours per day or not at all and 35% between 2 and 4 hours per day. As a result, more than half of the households report indoor temperature below the room temperature recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), i.e. between 18-21oC.  This finding is worrisome because the percentage of households reporting health problems due to insufficient heating for a house temperature of 15-18oC is twice as high as the corresponding percentage for a house temperature of 18-21oC, and the percentage for a house temperature below 15 oC is about four times higher.

The average total energy cost per year is about €1,900 (more than the average net monthly income). Energy expenses are affected by the size of the house, the type of heating system, and the households’ characteristics (e.g. households with children less than 5 years old, pensioners and persons with disabilities or long-term illness spend more to meet their energy needs, while households with unemployed persons tend to spend less).

Towards assessing energy vulnerability in Athens Urban Area, several expenditure-based and consensual indicators were calculated from the survey (e.g. inability to keep home adequately warm in or cool in summer, arrears in energy bills, electricity/gas supply disconnections, the 2M and M/2 indicators, etc.). Although the proportion of energy vulnerable households varies depending on the indicator used, the evidence is worrying:

  • About half of households claim inability to keep their houses adequately warm or cool.
  • About one-fifth of the households report arrears on their energy bills and about 5% said that their electricity/gas supply was disconnected during the last 12 months. As mentioned, these percentages are relatively low and are attributed to the emergency energy affordability measures implemented by the Greek government to protect domestic consumers from the effects of the global energy crisis.
Energy Affordability and Challenges_ A Closer Look at Household Struggles in Athens Urban Area
  • About one-third of the households report health issues related to inadequate heating and/or the presence of high moisture in the house.
  • About 80% of the households have restricted the use of electricity, more than 75% the use of heating, and about 50% the use of DHW to be able to pay for energy use during the last 12 months.
  • About 36% of the households spend more than 10% of their net income on energy services.
  • About 10% of the households spend on energy bills more than twice the national median as a share of energy expenditure compared to disposable income, and 7% have absolute energy expenditure below half the national median.

In all cases, there is a negative trend between income and E. There is, also, a significant percentage of very low or low energy efficiency buildings, and a noticeable share of households at risk of energy poverty that could be alleviated through energy efficiency upgrades to their homes.