Out with the old, in with the cold
Athens News, 5 June 2009

>A cooler and more energy- efficient summer looms ahead for thousands of Greek homes under a new government scheme designed to replace thousands of inefficient air-conditioners across the country.

Announced by Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on June 1, the measures provide for a subsidy of 35 percent of the cost of a new unit, up to a maximum of 500 euros, on the trade-in of old air-conditioners for new appliances.

"The main aim is to save energy in the residential sector," Hatzidakis said, "especially during the summer season, which will prove beneficial for households and the country's energy system."

Each citizen will be allowed to purchase up to two new air-conditioners under the scheme, which enjoys European Commission funding. The subsidy only applies to the price of the machine and does not cover the cost of installation.

The overall budget for the six-month programme, which begins on June 8, is 15 million euros.

Greeks and foreign nationals, regardless of income levels or place of residence, may avail themselves of the scheme in which, the minister emphasises, the bureaucracy has been kept to a minimum. The only documents a citizen requires are a valid ID or passport, as well as a recent residential electricity bill.

The citizen must present these documents to a participating store, which will then enter all the relevant data into an online database.

For his part, the retailer must organise the removal of the old appliance, which must be in working order. These will then be passed on to Appliances Recycling SA, the company with overall responsibility for electronic recycling in Greece.

While there are no restrictions on the age and type of air-conditioner eligible for replacement, the new appliances must be in the top energy-efficient range and rely on inverter technology.

Thus, for devices of up to 16,000 BTU (British thermal units), they must be in energy class A/A Devices above 16,000 BTU may be energy class A/A, A/B, B/A or B/B.

ln order to prevent shops hiking up air-conditioner prices, the website www.allazoklima.gr will provide consumers with indicative prices for appliances.

The development minister expects that 50,000-60,000 new machines will be bought under the scheme, which he estimates will result in energy savings of 20 gigawatt hours (GWh) and a 20,000-tonne reduction in carbon dioxide emissions annually.

It is estimated that there are over four million air-conditioners in use in Greek homes, the average age of each machine being 10 years. A staggering half-a-million machines were bought last year, only 30 percent of which were inverters.

According to market research, quoted by the minister, the average retail price for inverter air-conditioners over the past two years has been 800 euros.

George decides to buy a new air- conditioner under the scheme. The appliance he selects retails at 900 euros (incl VAT). As the grant amounts to 35 percent (315 euros), he will end up paying only 585 euros for the new machine.

His neighbour, Dan, goes for a more expensive model, which retails at 1,500 euros. Thirty-five percent of this would be 525 euros, but he would end up paying 1,000 euros for the new machine as the subsidy is capped at 500 euros.