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​Winter is coming: Ukrainians educated in energy saving, alternative heating

Published time: August 30, 2014 04:04
Edited time: August 30, 2014 10:06

Reuters / Konstantin Grishin

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With natural gas shortages central heating may not be in place in Ukrainian flats for the cold winter. While people are rushing to buy electric heaters, authorities have issued brochures with advice on how to cope with freezing temperatures.

Recognizing that it is extremely hard to keep a city flat warm with no central heating, Kiev authorities, for example, launched a campaign aimed at informing citizens on tricks and methods they could use to save energy and heat – at temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius and lower.

Firstly, the heat insulation of windows and doors is strongly advised, as well as the purchase of a personal boiler or energy-saving heating installation. In fact, people are already starting to buy the boilers: shop owners in Kiev told TCH TV channel that demand for such devices has increased at least threefold since the beginning of the crisis.

Also, it is suggested in the brochures that city residents should buy warm clothes made of natural fabric, valenki, and headwear to protect themselves from freezing temperatures.

Where there is heating in flats, the authorities advise to paint the radiators red or brown instead of traditional white, in order to increase their heat output – or wrap them in foil.

With so many heating devices power consumption will increase and may overload the grid, authorities are also giving advice on electricity savings: from switching to lower wattage light bulbs, to giving up on devices’ stand-by functions and instead unplugging them completely.

Image from http://energy-evolution.wix.com/

Among the more extreme advice, the authors of the brochure suggest that the Kiev residents should use their balconies as fridges, and turn on the lights only in one room, preferably pointing the source of light only on one spot – for example, a table.

There are some kitchen suggestions too: people are advised not to wash dishes in running water, and to eat only the types of food that take a few minutes to prepare.

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Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government started an aggressive propaganda campaign called “Energy independence”, the aim of which is to inform Ukrainians about the necessity to save energy and natural gas – in order to become independent from Russian supplies. It is noted that the funds for this campaign aren’t allocated from the federal budget, but from donor programs from the EU and the US.

The vice premier of the country Vladimir Groysman has suggested the population remember how to heat their homes with wood waste, turf, and straw – and this is seriously being considered by experts.

The whole campaign sounds like a revolutionary step, but not all are convinced.

“Nowadays, the authorities say we need to switch gas for something, to reduce the gas consumption by 10-30 percent. It’s true, but they don’t tell the most important thing: we consume much more than our European neighbors. For instance, Poland consumes only 14-15 billion cubic meters of gas, while Ukraine consumes almost 50.5 billion cubic meters,” Oleg Kozalchuk, the president of Ukrainian Association of energy efficiency and energy saving, told Pravda.ru media outlet.

Image from http://energy-evolution.wix.com/

Warning the residents of Kiev to prepare for winter, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said he hopes they will “understand the temporary difficulties, taking into account the situation in Kiev and in the country.”

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Since currently there are no natural gas supplies from Russia, all the gas extracted domestically “goes to the storages,” he told 112.ua agency explaining the decision to switch off hot running water in summer. “It’s the Cabinet of ministers’ demand, and respect it.”

Despite the mayor’s pledges that the heating is to be expected in households in October, experts aren’t so sure.

“Klitschko can promise whatever he wants, but he can’t guarantee anything. Does he have gas in storages? “Kievenergo” got the limits of gas usage of 1.2 billion of cubic meters, while last year, they used 1.8 billion over the same period, from August until March. And if the temperatures are low in autumn and winter, then they’ll surely heat the radiators, and will turn off the hot water,” the co-chairman of Fund of energy strategies Dmitry Marunich told 112.ua agency.

And while the temperatures go down, the tariffs increase – the utility rates have already grown 1.5-2 times this year.

The consumption of natural gas in Ukraine reduced in July by 30.3 per cent compared to July 2013, according to the country’s State Statistical Committee. The consumption of oil has fallen by 23.3 per cent compared with last year – and so has the consumption of coal, with figures showing a reduction by 25.9 per cent.

Nevertheless, the cabinet of ministers declared an emergency situation in the Ukrainian energy sector in June, urging the population to stock up on firewood to try their best to save energy.

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