Subsidies to make homes energy-efficient
Athens Plus, 23 July 2010

Ministers signed a decision on July 20 providing for a special fund to subsidize energy-saving improvements to residential buildings. The program, "Exikonomo kat’ikon" (Conserving at Home), is expected to be launched in the fall and will subsidize loans of up to 15,000 euros for the improvements. Depending on applicants’ incomes, the loans may be interest-free and the subsidy could amount to as much as 30 percent of the budget. There are also tax incentives, such as a break of 600 euros for expenses of 6,000 euros.

Loans to applicants with a personal income of up to 15,000 euros or family income of up to 25,000 will be interest-free and the subsidy will amount to 30 percent of the budget. Those with personal incomes of 15,000-30,000 euros and family incomes of 25,000-50,000 euros will receive a low-interest loan and a 15 percent budget subsidy. Personal income earners of 30,000-45,000 euros and family income earners of 50,000-60,000 euros will receive low-interest loans.

Apart from the immediate goal of the program, the government is also hoping to bolster the construction industry and its related sectors, which are in a slump. Another goal is to increase the absorption rate of European Union investment subsidies, which today stands at a mere 8.4 percent and has to reach a level of 2.75 billion euros by the end of the year. The fund will have start-up capital of 396 million euros, which is projected to lead to investments totaling 1 billion by 2012.

For a home to be approved under the program, it has to be a main residence, to have been built before 1980, to be in a zone where the officially set property prices (the so- called objective rates) are no higher than 1,500 euros per square meter and to have been classified in energy Category D or lower.

The expenses for which the loan may be approved have to concern the replacement of window frames, blinds or awnings, external heating insulation and the upgrade of heating systems and hot-water supply. Apartments may be included under certain conditions.

Applications can be submitted at banks in October but applicants can call energy inspectors to draw up reports as early as September. A special help line (801.1 13.6300) was established on Thursday.