Heating is becoming more expensive, and for some people it is a huge burden. Is central heating really the most expensive heating method and which of them pollute the environment the most?
Valdas Lukoševičius, president of the Lithuanian Heat Suppliers Association, says that the price situation is changing, and at the moment, comparing the prices of gas and centralized heating, it is clear that the latter method is the cheapest.
During the heating season, Environmental Protection specialists notice more pollution. The representative of the protection agency, Solveiga Pajarskienė, says that there is a strong increase in solid particles, and the concentration of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide is increasing.
“It should be mentioned that, when favorable meteorological conditions prevail, those particles are deposited and carried away when the weather is favorable for the dispersion of pollutants. At the moment, in the middle of heating, we are getting a lot of precipitation, it is raining and drizzling, the weather is not cold, the need for heating is not so great, the amount of fuel burned is lower and now the air quality in Lithuania is really good. As for cities, is air pollution the highest there – it is not appropriate to say so, because air pollutants accumulate where there are no favorable conditions for their dispersion, it also depends on the terrain, – they accumulate in ravines, near individual houses, where there is no central heating. Pollution can be higher not only in big cities, but also in small towns and settlements,” says S. Pajarskienė.
According to the interviewee, the most polluting method of heating is fossil fuel (coal and peat). This type of heating used in households generates the highest amount of emissions. S. Pajarskienė states that wood used for heating in the household and even biofuels also emit a lot of pollutants and solid particles.
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“The amount of pollutants also depends a lot on the quality of the fuel. The higher quality, drier it is, the smaller the amount of pollution. It is very important that the heating systems are in technical order, maintained and cleaned regularly; at least once a year, at the beginning of the heating season, the chimneys must be cleaned”, the interviewer mentions how every household can reduce pollution.
The decision made in Vilnius to heat multi-apartment buildings using fuel oil allowed to significantly reduce the price. However, as the president of the Lithuanian Heat Suppliers Association says, a positive decision on the price has extremely negative properties for health.
“Heat oil has a certain amount of mineral impurities, some sulfur. Sulfur oxides, which are formed during combustion, are one of the most aggressive harmful substances, so in Vilnius and other cities that burn fuel oil, these pollutants will inevitably increase. Technological facilities in Vilnius are not the newest, there are no smoke cleaning facilities, so those solid particles, impurities in fuel oil are, of course, spread into the air. I’m afraid to say how much it will increase pollution, but it will inevitably increase,” V. Lukoševičius does not hide.
The interviewer says that still not all people have the opportunity to connect to the centralized heat supply, because it is a city heating technology.
“Unfortunately, there were times when there were cheaper alternatives, gas seemed a very attractive option, firewood,
which do not cost anything if they are from their own forest. But in recent years, when heat suppliers completely or largely switched to biofuels and this greatly reduced the prices of heat, business entities started to connect rapidly. Recently, we have also received many requests for connection from individual houses in cities such as Kaunas, Mažeikiai and others; where there are good, stable prices, centralized heating becomes very competitive,” says V. Lukoševičius.
It is expected that a cogeneration power plant, heated only with biofuel, will start operating in Vilnius next year. What can be expected?
“The price should then be the same as in other cities. Back in September, the price was 17 cents, now it’s only 8 cents. In other cities, the price is stable at 8-9 cents, and it should be the same in Vilnius. It will probably decrease. I want to remind you that before the crisis we had a price of 4-5 cents when we burned biofuel, during the crisis the price of biofuel, electricity and other resources became very high. If the crisis is over, we will go back to the price level that was up to that time, a good year ago, about 5 cents per kilowatt hour. In practice, it is difficult to find an alternative to centralized heating, as long as it becomes available,” says the president of the Lithuanian Heat Suppliers Association.
People who heat their homes individually, looking for the cheapest way, sometimes not only incur the displeasure of environmentalists, but also have to pay fines. A representative of the Environmental Protection Agency reminds that not everything can be put in the oven.
“It is forbidden to burn waste, especially furniture. Sometimes they even burn clothes, shoes, plastic containers treated with varnishes and paints. Fines for burning waste are imposed: for individuals – from 60 to 300 euros, and for managers of legal entities or other responsible persons – from 170 to 1170 euros. Undoubtedly, the fines for repeated violations are much higher: for individuals it would be from 270 to 1,200 euros, and for managers – from 500 to 3,000 euros,” says S. Pajarskienė.