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Social survey results in Brezovo, Bulgaria

Bulgaria takes the leading places in many of the indicators used by the Energy Poverty Observatory, which is not accidental since all three main factors that determine the level of energy poverty are present:

  • low income
  • high energy prices relative to purchasing power
  • buildings with unsatisfactory energy performance.

It can be said that Brezovo is a typical representative of a settlement with a strong level of energy poverty as a rural town, with a high level of unemployment and an aging population.

A social survey was implemented in Municipality of Brezovo in the period February – April, 2023 among more than 300 households.

The following results show to what extent the residents of Brezovo are affected by the indicated characteristics of energy poverty.

17% of the respondents are unable to keep home adequately warm in the winter or cool in the summer. 16% have condensation on windows and walls during winter. There are only 2 % indicated arrears in the energy bills over the last 12 months and only 1% stated that have electricity or heating suspension due to non-payment of the bills.

Comfort and energy issues in the home
What kind of cutbacks on heating use is your household making

The main type of residential buildings in Municipality of Brezovo are detached houses and there are a few multi-family buildings in the region. More than a half of the respondents live in detached houses with two levels and 35% live in detached houses on one level.

The buildings are very old, as the largest share of the existing residential building stock was created before 1949. After 2000, with the entry into force of modern and highly demanding normative documents for EE, only 3% of the residential buildings were put into operation. The most of the dwellings (i.e., 94%) are privately owned without financial obligations. The analysis show how the household members characteristics affect the annual energy costs – households with children less than 5 years old and disabled spent more money to meet their energy needs, but pensioners and unemployed spend less for energy.

When was your house built

Regarding the heating source, the most of the respondents have indicated that they are heated with air conditioners, followed by heating with firewood. The air conditioners are preferred in the last years because of the increased demand of cooling, as well as the relatively low electricity prices. Still, 29% of those who are using air conditioners as primary heating source have additional heating sources as wood/pellets stoves, electrical devices or open firewood.

What is the type of your main heating source

Also, those who are finding it very difficult to live on current income rely mainly on individual firewood/pellet stoves, air conditioners, and open fireplaces. That is, they most probably heat only part of their homes and use (as far as the open fireplaces and firewood/pellet stoves are concerned) heating systems that degrade indoor air quality, still, the households indicated that they reach the comfort indoor temperature and they are not deprived of heating, but it is common to restrict other necessary products or services or basic needs in order to be able to pay energy bills.

Regarding the electricity-related awareness and behavioural issues, most of the respondents stated that they compare electricity consumption with previous years and read the consumption in the electricity bill, still some of them don’t understand the charges. Only 11% often check the electricity meter reading, which means that further educational actions should be focused on energy monitoring in the households.

Electricity-related awareness and behavioural issues_Brezova

Regarding the EE measures implemented, it can be seen that the most of the households have implemented new energy efficient windows and doors, but only 40% have wall/ceiling insulation. Most of the have also installed energy-saving lamps and new energy efficient appliances.

Energy-saving measures implemented in the home in the last decade_Breozva

As regards to the RES installations in the households only 4% have installed solar water heater. Also only 3% indicated that they had new heating or cooling sources, but this may be due to deep-seated habits of using wood stoves and reluctance to change habits.

96% of the respondents haven’t participated in any subsidy programs for energy efficiency.

Have you ever participated in a program to finance energy saving measures

Brezovo was not priority in the programs for financing energy saving measures, because according to the national program for energy renovation of homes, priority was mainly given to multi-family residential buildings, and single-family houses prevail in Brezovo. Also, the environmental protection program, which relied on the replacement of heating sources with modern low-emission ones, was only for large cities. The program for the introduction of RES in households has only recently been opened, and no real activities for the installation of photovoltaic or solar collectors for hot water can be reported yet.

This is why almost all of the respondents haven’t participated in any subsidy programs for energy efficiency.

Asked if they had not participated in funding programs, whether they would participate in the future, 67% answered positively, but a quarter answered that they would not participate.

efficiency financing program

Regarding the reasons for not applying for financing programs for energy saving measures – more than a half indicated that they don’t know about any programs.  Asked if they had not participated in funding programs, whether they would participate in the future, 67% answered positively, but a quarter answered that they would not participate.

efficiency financing program

This means that more information campaigns should be focused among the population. It also turns out that the worry of excessive bureaucracy and administrative obstacles in the participation and implementation of energy efficiency measures under financing programs is not a negligible issue.

When asked about their opinion on state and local support for energy efficiency measures and building renovations, most respondents said they agree that such support is needed (more than 60%). On the statement that energy suppliers treat low-income consumers fairly, opinions are mixed, with 15% disagreeing and 16% somewhat disagreeing. 32% have indicated that they rather agree and 37% agree with this opinion.

municipality and energy suppliers_Brezova