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Coping with Bulgarian Water and Electricity

When moving into a Bulgarian home be it a new build or a resale property, everyone hooks up to the local utilities and then sits back and enjoys the splendor of Bulgarian life until the power or water go off and reality of life in Bulgaria kicks in.

The fact is that Bulgarian utilities are in great need of updating and funding and whilst plans are underway to do this thanks to EU funding, the fact of the matter is that it will take time before Bulgaria can offer every citizen water and electricity on tap without any hitches. Until then it is well worth taking remedial measures to ensure that you have these facilities on demand within your own home.

Losing Power

President Georgi Parvanov compared the country’s electricity supply to disco living – all lights one minute and nothing the next! It’s true that for most citizens in Bulgaria life is often one long flicker of chaos. The old Bulgarian power supply did not take into account modern day demands for power. Today, many homes are kitted out with so many electrical appliances that many owners do not have the domestic supply to run their army of appliances in one go. In some houses you cannot run the microwave when the washing machine and cooker are on and if you were to switch on every recessed light in your house and surf the internet the power supply simply could not cope. On top of this some areas of the country experience power cuts; they happen without warning and it is difficult to calculate their annual volume as they vary from village to village. Their very existence affects businesses and homes alike and can cause major problems to electrical goods. Businesses cannot operate their electronic cash registers, fridges and freezers shut down causing many a food retailer to have to throw away many Levas worth of prematurely defrosted food or worse still they say nothing and the food re-freezes when the power is back on. In the home, you can experience that World War II feeling as you sit for houses trying to read by candlelight. It’s only when you don’t have electricity that you fully appreciated how much you needed it. It’s not just about watching TV and using the internet, it affects more practical issues like charging your phone, heating your water, lighting your home, cooking your food and keeping it chilled or frozen.

Generating Your Own Power

It is very easy to safeguard from electricity shortages by installing your own diesel generator, which you can start up the moment your main source of power fails. A diesel 6 kw generator costs around 2,260 lv, although there are many cheaper versions available at DIY stores like Mr Bricolage. One thing to remember is that you must register your generator with your electricity company. Another alternative to keep your computer running is to buy an APC battery back-up unit for uninterruptable power supply (www.apc.com) available at branches of Office One. Power cuts cause major computer crashes and can affect the long term health of your PC, so even if you don’t use your pc regularly it is a wise move. It is also worth looking into solar power. This effective form of eco power collects energy from the sun through solar panels, which are now becoming more and more popular in Bulgaria. You can also buy gas tanks, which you fill with LPG at the local garage. They can be connected to gas heaters and a small gas stove, which will at least give you life’s basics whilst the power is off.

Water Shortages

It is extremely rare that power and water are off together but water shortages do occur and again they occur without warning. They tend to be more severe than power cuts because they usually mean that the water is off non-stop for days and it is quite a shock to find that you can no longer take a shower or flush your toilet or even wash your clothes. The antiquated water supply is still run from a central pump house in each village and many coastal villages suffer from water shortages when water is diverted to the main beach resorts during the summer. Droughts in summer are becoming more frequent due to the changes in the climate and whilst these problems are being addressed and are in fact improving, electricity shortages seem to be getting more attention than the faults in the water supply. When water shortages occur everyone is forced to run to the corner shop to buy 10 litre bottles of mineral water. Many villages have a local spring where you can fill up buckets and bottles at no cost. There is likely to be more of a warning of a future water shortage than of electricity outs and when there is everyone rushes to fill up their bath to use the water for flushing toilets.

The Solution to Water Problems

Water shortages are not insolvable. With a little forethought, you can ensure that you are unaffected by these problems and the best way to do this is to install your own. You can build your own pump house by getting a builder to dig a hole in your garden, which can either be concreted out or fitted with a plastic tank (plastic tanks can also be free standing in your garden.) The tank or water hole is fitted with a pump and when the mains water is cut off you can switch on the pump and have the secondary water reserve pumped into your home. A huge 3.5 ft square tank costs around 2,000 lv. to build and will more than cover your needs throughout a week of water shortages. Each time the mains water is back on, the secondary supply will fill back up using a ball cock system. It is also wise to fit a water butt in your garden to collect rainwater, which you can use to water the garden and flush toilets.

Water and power shortages are becoming less frequent in Bulgaria and they do not occur every week or even every month. A little forward planning will enable you to avoid these inconveniences rather than feeling miserable because things are not like home.