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District Heating in Budapest


| | Mar 15, 2010 | 4:08 pm
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A Hungarian district heating firm has teamed up with Techem, a global provider of energysaving solutions, to help flat owners in Budapest save on their energy bills by putting across the message via advertising animation.

“Our customers are not experts,” said Zsuzsa Gyarmati, communications manager at of FÖTÁV Zrt, in Budapest. “This is why we show them in a simple and pleasant manner how they can save money for heating and hot water.”

Béla, a cartoon character in the FÖTÁV infomercial, is a flat owner sweating due to constant heating. He complains about the high cost of heating, but eventually discovers FÖTÁV’s new ÖKOPlus programme. Then he convinces his neighbours to participate and applies for subsidies and financing.

By installing radiator thermostats in a building’s heating system, flat owners can save as much as 15% on their energy consumption. This means that district heating is hardly the cause of highheating costs, contrary to the belief of most flat owners in Budapest.

“[T]he setback is the lack of opportunities for individual heating adjustments and transparent billing,” said Techem, which has provided FÖTÁV the exact database and cost estimates for equipment for consumption control and cost allocation.

It added that in 2008 alone, $124.2 million (€90m) was invested into the improvement of energy efficiency in Budapest, where many houses were traditionally provided with district heating and hot water. But the energy costs were at a flat rate, as regulation for individual measurement was limited.

“This caused several customers to have an overall negative attitude towards district heating,” explained Gyarmati. “That is why we have taken the initiative to restructure and modernise through the support programme, ÖKOPlus.”

The state funds the programme with a grant of 50% of investment costs for individual customer. Some district administrations may also fund the remaining primary costs under certain circumstances, such as when a customer cannot afford paying for such.

Under ÖKOPlus, customers are given a period of 10 years for repayment. Customers, who are also given a 10% discount on basic fees, may apply directly to FÖTÁV without involving their banks.

FÖTÁV, however, needs an accurate quotation in advance before deciding on an application. This is quite a problem, as the heating systems installed in most buildings in Budapest are old.

“Within the scope of numerous larger pilot projects, the energy solution provider recorded the data of those houses and flats, whose owners had shown interests in the programme,” Techem said in a note.

There are now 458 flat-sharing communities, or 39,000 flats, participating in the ÖKOPlus programme. Techem transmits the recorded consumption values, and the owners then pass on the data to FÖTÁV, which prepares the bills.

“The energy savings solution provider’s modernised metering and billing services have ensured billing based on consumption, as well as incentives to save,” Gyarmati said. “As a result of which, we have gained satisfied customers and, in the future, we will also provide them with district heating.”

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