Sweden announced on Wednesday that it had allocated some 6 billion kronor (590 million euros) to a temporary plan to help the worst-affected households across the Scandinavian country cope with high electricity bills this winter.
Households that consume more than 2,000 kilowatt hours per month can obtain compensation of around 2,000 crowns (195.5 euros) per month for the three months from December to February. Some 1.8 million homes are affected, the government said.
“This is an exceptional measure in an exceptional situation, it is unusual to enter with support when prices fluctuate in the markets,” said Finance Minister Mikkel Damberg.
Sweden’s single-party minority Social Democratic government is expected to win majority support for the plan in the 349-seat Riksdag.
Homeowners in Sweden have already started to adopt strategies to reduce their consumption: turn down the heat, close the rooms, use alternative heat sources such as wood stoves and wear thick woolen socks.
“Being in a crazy situation is crazy,” said Hannah Hall, who lives in an old wooden house in Kristinehamn, a small town in central Sweden. “I knew it would be an expensive winter, but it feels unprecedented.”
Hall received a bill of 10,400 crowns (1,016 euros) for his December electricity use, almost triple the previous year, to heat his 130-square-meter house.
His family also uses wood burners as back-up heating to keep the living room cozy, but “the wood is running out in our shed and all the farmers have run out of wood” to sell as people seek to diversify their source. heating.
The fact that Hall has been working from home due to the pandemic has increased his heating needs. The chunky wool socks that her employer intended as a fun gift since her business switched to working from home have proven useful and her husband stopped using his little outhouse as a home office to avoid turning on the extra heater.
“We are in a fortunate financial situation … but for other people, it must be really difficult and a great concern,” he said, adding that they use 23,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
There have been reports of people taking out bank loans in order to pay their electricity bill.
“I understand that people are worried about their finances,” said Swedish Energy Minister Khashayar Farmanbar.
Electricity prices in Sweden have risen as low temperatures increased demand and gas prices in Europe continue to rise.
According to data from the Swedish energy market regulator, the electricity costs of an average apartment in the southern half of the country, where the vast majority of Swedes live, increased by 266% year-on-year in December, while the cost of an average house with Electric heating jumped an average of 361% during the same period.
“Of course, energy companies could better inform their customers,” said Jens Lundgren, the regulator’s deputy chief economist, but he believes consumers could do more to mitigate costs by “investing time in understanding the energy market and the potential cost savings that arise ”. from the use of available smart energy-saving products ”, such as heat pumps, smart electric vehicle chargers or timers that only power household appliances when electricity prices are lower.
In December, neighboring Norway said support will be available for households that use up to 5,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each month. The move will cost the nation about 5 billion crowns (500 million euros).
“We have focused on helping as many people as possible,” Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum said in December. “We hope that these measures provide a little more room to breathe.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism