While energy support measures put in place by the state mean that district heating costs will remain unchanged through the winter, so far as the end-user resident goes, they could still vary, depending on the severity of the winter, ERR reports.
District heating refers to hot water piped in to many apartment blocks by companies such as, in Tallinn, Utilitas. Natural gas is the most common energy source for heating the water, meaning soaring gas prices have been passed on to this energy cost also.
Siim Umbleja (pictured), head of the national power plant and district heating association (Eesti Jõujaamade ja Kaugkütte Ühing), told Vikerraadio morning show "Vikerhommik" Wednesday that: "This all depends on the fuel used; for the consumer I believe it [the price tariff - ed.) will remain constant. Since the compensation measures set by the government – an €80 cap, beyond which 80 percent is compensated, remains in place until spring. In this sense, nothing will change for the consumer."
However, consumption levels could affect bills, depending on how cold it gets, including consumption set generally in an apartment block.
"We cannot be responsible for whether an individual turns on the radiator to 23C, or to 20C; consumption depends on this. The price level is one thing, but the volume of consumption depends on the building and the consumption behavior," he added.
So far in Tallinn heating prices have remained constant since the start of the year, ie. halfway through last winter, when state measures had also been put in place, Umbleja said, whereas in many places in the rest of the country, prices have risen, up to 20 percent.
Relatively mild weather has also helped keep heating costs down so far this fall, he added
On the likelihood of district heating firms having to apply to the Competition Authority (Konkurentsiamet) for a tariff increase, as may happen this month with electricity generators, due to a rise in fuel prices, Umbleja explained that it would take one to two months to process that claim.
As of mid-November the weather has been mild and is set to continue to through to the weekend, with temperatures during the day as high as 14C forecast, though it will be wet and sometimes windy.
Heating season traditionally runs from October 1 to March 30, so we are approaching one quarter distance at the time of writing.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots