MADRID – Many apartment buildings in Spain have centrally regulated heating. The bill for this has increased by 200% in many cases. To avoid absurdly high bills, Home Owners Associations are reducing the number of hours they turn on that central heating.
By switching them off a month earlier, for example, they shorten the heating hours so that residents of the buildings do not have to pay too much extra on their energy bill. That writes the newspaper 20Minutos, which is based on statements from an Association of Owners in Madrid. It has been decided that further heating will only take place between 13:30 and 21:00.
New providers and other contracts
Others are looking for new providers for their energy to keep the rise in energy bills in check. This started months ago and has been made worse by the war in Ukraine.
Last week, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, advised Europeans to turn down their thermostats. In doing so, they would contribute to the European defense against the consequences of Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
At that time, many neighbourhood communities had been looking for months to save and avoid excessive energy consumption to continue to pay the high energy costs.
Rafael Martin, director of New Business at Inmho (a consultancy for Home Owners’ Associations), explains that Madrid’s neighbourhood community is not an isolated case. “If this owners association has decided to turn off the heating for 2.5 hours, then others have decided similarly.
Goodbye fixed prices
Martin continues in 20Minutos: “The price this year has almost tripled compared to last year and that is a big problem”. The rise in electricity and gas has been at the heart of homeowners’ associations’ problems in recent months.
Until now, many contracts were on an annual basis. The reality of the new – and much higher – bills comes when a renegotiation is required. These negotiations are becoming increasingly difficult because getting a “fixed price” is increasingly difficult.
So far this year, about twenty energy suppliers have stopped providing their services. Those who go ahead do so at unbridled prices. “Last year the cheapest price was €0.04/kW, now it is three times more at €0.11,” says Martin.
“Often the HOAs are surprised when they find out the new prices. We indicate that the price has increased and we try to negotiate with the companies about the best price, but there is not much we can do. At meetings, we explain what is going on. What is happening and what lies ahead. There are already communities where the heating was turned off a week ago, not taking into account the cold front this week,” said Martin.
Fear and control of the energy bills
Martin continues: “Just today, a community called us again saying that they are removing [heating] hours. It is about Olid Jurídico, a property manager with 15 communities in Valladolid. Every day we get reports from communities that try to reduce costs in this way. to spare”.
According to Martín, people are afraid and call to have Inmho check the high bills and to ask what is coming…
Reduce potential and merge electricity meters
Reducing the number of hours the central heating is on is a common practice to save money. Other ways to push the price are to reduce the contracted potential of the HOAs; introduce LED lighting for communal areas and unify electricity metres. So says Ciudadela, a property manager who works for some 140 communities in Madrid and Barcelona. Director Jonathan Poderose explains that this mainly concerns measures to save energy and lighting. These have the greatest impact on the wallets of residents and on reducing the concerns about this related to the war in Ukraine.