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ENERGY

Shared central heating in Spain’s buildings to end soon: what you need to know

If you have district heating in your building in Spain, you may soon have to install an individual meter in your flat or apartment, the Spanish government has announced.

radiator, central heating
A radiator seen up close. Photo: ri / Pixabay

In some parts of Spain it’s still common to find communal central heating systems for the whole building, known also as district heating systems, but the Spanish government has set out rules for these to be replaced by individual meters.

The plan is to make people more aware of the energy consumption they are using and to make sure that everyone is paying for their own heating usage. Currently, heating bills in these buildings are just split equally between the number of apartments, taking into account the number of people who live in each. 

Building managers and community of neighbours will have until mid-2022 or early 2023 to install the systems necessary for individualised meters, depending on the climatic zone the buildings are located in and the number of homes they contain. 

As of May 2023, each neighbour in buildings with district heating in Spain must pay exclusively for their own heating consumption.

District heating systems usually run on natural gas energy, heating the entire building via the same network.

The new measure will affect at least 1.7 million homes in Spain and will mainly affect those buildings built before 1998.

It will also avoid energy waste of two million tons of CO2 per year. The majority of district buildings in Spain are in Madrid: 700,000, but they’re also common in Cantabria and Navarre.

Why has Spain chosen to scrap district heating?

A study carried out between 2015 and 2018 revealed that the installation of meters that control individual heating usage in homes with district central heating generates an average saving on your heating bill of 29.60 percent two years after its installation.

This research was carried out in 396 homes with central heating in the Community of Madrid and was supervised and certified by the property managers of said communities of owners.

Installing individual central heating has the potential to save €230 in heating costs a year per housing unit, according to the Spanish Association of Heat Cost Distributors.

How much do the meters cost?
 
Individual meters can cost around €250, plus the cost of installing them, but prices can vary a lot depending on the building you live in. 
 
If it’s not possible to install a meter for the entire apartment however, you will have to install individual meters on each radiator at a cost of around €30 per unit. 
 
It is also possible to rent meters and a monthly cost of around €7 – €10, including maintenance. 

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The dates you need to know

The decree published by the Spanish government on August 6th 2020, set out the deadlines by which a quote must have been obtained. You can find out what climate zone you’re located in by looking at the government’s Basic Document on Energy Saving

  • February 1st, 2021 for buildings of non-residential use and those in climate zone E with 20 or more dwellings.
  • July 1st, 2021 for those in climate zone E with fewer than 20 homes and in climate zone D for buildings with 20 or more homes.
  • December 1st, 2021 for those in climate zone D with less than 20 homes and in climate zone C for buildings with 20 or more homes.
  • February 1st, 2022 for those in climate zone C with fewer than 20 homes.
Spain's climate zones according to the Technical Building Code. Source: CTE
Spain’s provinces categorised into climate zones according to the Technical Building Code. Source: CTE

If the quote you receive proves to be technically viable and makes economic sense, the Spanish government states that “the holder must proceed with the installation of individualised accounting systems within a maximum period of fifteen months from these dates”.  

Each community of neighbours will be responsible for the installation and payment of the meters, in other words property owners will have to share the costs. If they fail by a certain date there will be sanctions of between €300 and 60,000.

This means that the individual meters themselves will have to be installed by the following dates:

  • May 1st, 2022 for buildings of non-residential use and in climate zone E for buildings with 20 or more homes.
  • October 1st, 2022 for those in climate zone E with less than 20 homes, and in climate zone D for buildings with 20 or more homes.
  • March 1st, 2023 for those in climate zone D with less than 20 homes and in climate zone C for buildings with 20 or more homes.
  • May 1st, 2023 for those in climate zone C with less than 20 homes.

Exceptions to the new measures

There are however some exceptions; not all buildings or homes will have to comply with this regulation if they’re not able to.  

“The simplest way to comply with the regulations is to put a meter on each apartment, but this is only technically possible in heating systems arranged in a ring”, said Enrique García, spokesman for the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU).

Those for example which cannot install individual meters due to technical reasons or those which have heating systems equipped with heat emitters connected in series (provided that they serve more than one user in the same ring) will be exempt. 

Any system that does not allow for individualising consumption, such as user-to-user system management, is also exempt.

Those buildings which would lack of economic profitability because they’re located in climatic zones A and B will also be exempt. This includes some buildings in parts of Almería, Cádiz, Castellón, Ceuta, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga, Murcia, Las Palmas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Seville, Tarragona and Valencia.

READ ALSO: Spain’s new electricity rates for 2021: the tricks to help you save up to €300 a year

In the last five years, in anticipation of the new regulations, meters have already been installed in 180,000 flats in Spain, according to the Spanish Association of Heat Cost Distributors. 

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PROPERTY

REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you're considering making the move and buying property in Spain, but don't fancy purchasing in a rural village in the middle of nowhere, you should know where the cheapest, most in-demand parts of the country are.

REVEALED: The cheapest most in-demand areas in Spain to buy a house

If you’re thinking about relocating, Spain is a fantastic place to do it. Foreigners have been moving to Spain for decades, not only for its fantastic food and weather, along with a laid-back lifestyle, but housing is generally affordable – if you know where to look.

Though the rise in the Euribor has sent interest rates spiking, house prices in Spain are expected to flatten somewhat in 2023 and it could be a good year to find a bargain, depending on your financial situation.

Knowing what type of house you want and where in Spain you want to live is one thing, but knowing the cheapest, yet most in-demand parts of the country could really help you narrow down your search.

Fortunately, Spain’s leading property website Idealista has put together a list of the most ‘in demand’ municipalities of Spain and where you can find the most expensive and, more importantly for the house hunters among us, the cheapest municipalities of Spain to buy property.

It’s based on data from the last quarter of 2022 and is the average price of housing in towns with more than 1,300 sale announcements and costs valued at more than €1,100 per square metre. 

You can find the ten cheapest areas of Spain to buy property by average price below, but it’s worth noting that Idealista did these rankings by average price across the entire municipality, so there are likely individual towns and villages dotted around Spain where prices are significantly lower.

That said, this list gives you a good idea of the areas to look out for.

READ ALSO:  What will happen with property prices in Spain in 2023?

The 10 cheapest municipalities in Spain to buy property 

Santa Pola (Alicante) – Santa Pola, in the Alicante province, is the cheapest most in-demand municipality to buy a house, according to Idealista’s rankings. The average price for a house in Santa Pola costs just €151,796, though this may come as a surprise given its prime location in a foreign hotspot on the sought-after Costa Blanca. The main town of Santa Pola itself is a small beachfront community with a population of around 35,000. It also has a large foreign population and is a short drive or bus away from both Alicante and Elche.

Ourense (Galicia) – Next on the list is Ourense in Galicia where the average price is €154,941. The municipality is home to several towns and villages, surrounding the main medium-sized town of Ourense itself in southern Galicia. The town has a population of around 105,000 and is a little over an hour’s drive from both Santiago de Compostela and the coastal city of Pontevedra.

Oviedo (Asturias) – Third on the list is the municipality of Oviedo where you’ll pay an average of €154,968 for a property. Another area in northern Spain, the main city Oviedo itself, which is the capital of Asturias and has a population of 220,000. It sits between Cantabrian mountains and the Bay of Biscay. It’s known for its picturesque medieval old town and impressive architecture. 

Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) – Properties cost an average of €155,563 in the municipality of Jerez de la Frontera, or Jerez as it’s commonly referred to. It’s located in the Cádiz province of Andalusia and is a real piece of ‘traditional’ Spain. Jerez city is a decent-sized place with a little over 200,000 people and is known for horses, flamenco dancing and sherry, as well as the Alcázar de Jerez, an 11th-century fortress that harks back to Andalusia’s Moorish past.

READ ALSO: Is it better to buy or rent in Spain right now?

Torrevieja (Alicante) – Another municipality in Alicante and another incredibly popular with foreign homeowners. Properties here go for an average of €155,787. Torrevieja itself has a population of 82,000 and is another coastal town, but also has nature trails and salt plains nearby.

Murcia (Murcia) – Murcia is often overlooked, wedged between Alicante and Andalusia, but you could grab a bargain here with average prices of €157,119. Murcia capital is a bustling city of almost 450,000 people, and is strategically placed for trips to the Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, Costa del Sol, and Costa de Almeria.

Parla (Madrid) – The municipality of Parla lies just 20km south of Madrid and the town of the same name is home to 130,000 residents. It’s a great commuter area for those who work in Getafe or the capital. A house here costs an average of €160,652. 

Salamanca (Castilla y León) – The municipality of Salamanca surrounds the capital of Salamanca in Castilla y León in northwestern Spain. Buying a property in this area costs an average of €162,909. The main city of Salamanca is known for its university, which is the oldest in Spain and dates back to 1218. Understandably, much of Salamanca’s roughly 150,000 residents are students, which gives the town a lively atmosphere.

Burgos (Castilla y León) – Another northwestern Castilla y León municipality, is Burgos has around, where you can buy a house for just €163,164. The city of Burgos has around 180,000 inhabitants and is known for its medieval architecture and grand cathedral. 

Dos Hermanas (Sevilla) – The second most populous municipality in the province of Seville, properties cost an average of €163.274 here. The Andalusian town is just 15km south of Seville, making it great for commuters or those who want plenty of culture nearby. 

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