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Heating your Bulgarian Home for Winter

There are many ways to heat your Bulgarian home throughout the cold season. The choice you make will depend on the area you live in, your access to fuel and the money you have available to spend.

Put on your thermals - The most efficient and energy saving way to cut down on fuel costs is to ensure that your house is well insulated. Bulgarian brickwork is shoddy to say the least and needs thick layers of insulation to cover the many gaps, which will let heat out and the cold wind in.

New builds should have a 6 mm layer of polystyrene insulation covering the brickwork. Good builders will also include a layer of Rockwool fibreglass insulation in addition to the polystyrene. The builder, who tells you that you can get away with less, is wasting your money in the end.

Heating bills can be double the price if you do not have good insulation. Old houses will be devoid of any form of insulation. If your house is in need of total renovation, it is worth adding insulation to the cost, especially if you intend to live there. All Around Roofing and Exteriors can get your home set up with thick insulation just in time to keep you warm for the winter.

Cosy log fires on winter nights

The most cost effective way to heat a home in Bulgaria (outside some of the major cities which have the benefit of central heating available) is by using wood. Wood burners are available from all DIY stores and there is a great choice of designs, so that the heating system can become a design feature of the home.

Installing a wood burning stove is easy, any regular builder or DIY enthusiast can accomplish this task quickly and for little money. The stove vents through a clear chimney using a metal flue pipe.

Logs are available from a wide variety of merchants, most of who deliver for a small fee. Logs should be stored in a dry place, like a garage or outhouse. Damp or wet logs are tantamount to putting cash into the wood burner.

Wood burners give off far more heat than radiators and can be used to heat many rooms as well as providing hot water far more cheaply than a central heating system or boiler. The downside of wood burners is the mess and the volume of work involved. They require regular cleaning, not to mention the journeys into the freezing outdoors to fetch new logs. In order to get hot water, the stove must be active every day including in the hot summer months (unless you have the capacity to switch to a boiler).

Warmth at the flick of a switch

Who would do without central heating in the UK? It heats the water, the whole house and in winter, it dries the washing precariously draped over every radiator. In Bulgaria, it is not as energy efficient and is very costly. Bulgarians are way behind in the central heating stakes. They do not have boiler systems with the same power as the UK. In central heating terms, the German-speaking nations lead the way.

Countries like Austria heat their homes with enormous boilers, which people are starting to import into Bulgaria. They are very heat efficient and can heat a large amount of space. The downside is that they cost a lot of money to buy and take up a lot of room. Regardless of the central heating system you choose, you will have to consider the cost of fuel, which will be gas, oil or electric and its availability.


Burning money

Fan heaters and inverted air conditioning units, which provide hot and cool air, all run on electric and provide instant blasts of warmth or cool at the press of a button. They are a great solution if you need quick bursts of heat, but they are not a good long-term option. Leaving them on for long periods is like setting fire to your money.

The cost of heating your home

Prices vary between builders for insulating your home. The size of your house will also have a bearing on the cost. Wood burners cost anything from 150 leva upwards (including the flue pipe) and metre length logs cost from 50 leva per cubic metre. Logs are available ready cut from a wide number of outlets but cost slightly more. A large house during a cold winter will need around 12 cubic metres of wood. Coal is also an option from 200 leva a ton and eco logs  cost from 80 leva per ton. Wood burners are also handy for disposing of combustible household rubbish like cardboard and paper.

The State Energy and Water Regulation Commission (SWERC) control electricity prices. Different electricity wholesalers dominate each region in Bulgaria. Prices have increased this year and electricity price is 0.082 euro`s per kilowatt hour.

The electricity board does not usually post out bills to inhabitants of rural areas. In most villages, there is a set day each month for utility payments or the local post office will have an over-the-counter payment scheme. Direct debit from a Bulgarian bank account is the safest way to ensure payment if you are not permanently resident in the country.

Gas prices have increased and canisters are popular, which hold 20 litres, can be purchased from garages for 69 leva including the cost of the attachment valve, which is needed to connect to the main gas tank. It costs from 1.25 leva for a litre.

Some people use oil to heat their central heating system and the prices charged are the same as the pump prices for car diesel (currently around 2.59 leva a litre). Buying in bulk is often cheaper. Red diesel, a cheaper alternative to ordinary diesel but it is not easy to obtain in Bulgaria. Solar heating is still in its infancy in Bulgaria.

Winters can sometimes be unprdeictable in Bulgaria. Last winter was particularly cold proving excellent for ski enthusiasts, but not so pleasant for those tucked away in central rural areas or on the coast. Whatever the winter weather, its always wise to make sure you can stay warm - even if it means getting out those long johns!