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Experts of the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services explain how owners of communal property can warm up their apartments, whether it is worth changing batteries and whether it is possible to save money on electricity.

According to the existing norm, the temperature in the apartment should be 18-25 degrees centigrade.  

Today, someone can complain of the cold in their apartment and someone – of the heat. However, sensation of cold for different people is different. Central heating is usually switched on when for five days the outside average daily temperature does not rise above 8 degrees centigrade. On average, it is in five days the building cools down. Houses made of brick cool down more slowly than panel ones.

“Heating can be started earlier. The decision is made by local authorities. This year, for example, they didn’t wait for five days because, in accordance with the weather forecast, the weather was expected to be cold. I think they did the right thing,” says Andrei Romashko, Head of the Housing Management Department of the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services. “Nowadays, systems of heating work in the mode of thorough heating – there must be quite comfortable temperature in apartments. The automatic control system is adjusted, which, depending on the outside temperature, produces either more or less heat. After all, what is most important is that tenants do not notice whether the radiators are on or off”.  The atmosphere should be comfortable and that is all.

Since 2007, they have been installing group devices for the registration of thermal energy used for heating and hot water supply, and automatic control systems. On the one hand, it make it possible to save fuel and energy resources and, on the other hand, it allows us to provide control over the system from a distance. Today, the plumber doesn’t have to go down into the heat unit of the building and manually adjust heat supply – everything is done automatically. Today, such systems exist in 98% of multi-storey buildings in which there are more than 20 apartments.

- Well, if such system is installed and it doesn’t work, we consider it as a crime. Unfortunately, such cases do happen. The Department Energy Efficiency deals with such cases.

- When they announce that the heating will be started, they usually say that that in Minsk heating will be turned on within 5 days. Isn’t it possible to have it turned on at once?

- It is impossible to open all the valves at once and let heat through the entire housing stock. It may happen that the heat source won’t cope therefore the heating system is turned on in stages.

People will start insulating their apartments if they can benefit from it.

-However, even after the heating system is on, heating doesn’t reach all apartments. They say some residents began to pay 30 million rubles for warming up their apartments….

-30 million rubles is an average price for a corner apartment having two external walls. Now the market for these services is large. And the work can be carried out not only by Housing and Communal Services. According to the analysis made by the World Bank experts who studied the problem of thermal modernization in our country, one square meter of warming-up costs $ 97. Of course, it is not cheap. Some organizations can do that for $ 50. Once I read that somewhere people had managed to do that for $ 27. So prices are different.

- The house next to mine has been point-warmed. It doesn’t look quite esthetic, of course. But is there any violation of the existing rules? After all, the appearance of the house has changed.

- You, as the owner of a dwelling, are not forbidden to modernize your personal property if it meets the rights and interests of other owners. And you have every right to warm up your apartment. However, before starting the work you should agree the color of the walls with the Department of Architecture of your district administration.

- And what about the money? We always lack it.

-On the one hand, people should be given this possibility, and, on the other hand, they should have some incentive to warm up their apartments. Today, we are thinking of allocating preferential loans to citizens for the implementation of energy-efficient measures. Of course, such incentives will arise when it becomes profitable for people to save heat.

- When can people have their apartments warmed up for free?

- If the enclosing structure freezes due to a defect in the structural elements. For example, the building was built with a defective panel. The Housing and Communal Service experts examine the housing and put this apartment into a plan for warming up next year..

Does mould appear if plastic windows are installed?

- A lot of people are now installing double-glazed windows. And some people, like in old times, glue their windows. What's better? Some people say that if “plastic” is installed, mould will appear.

- Windows are “lungs” of the living quarters. And, if we install plastic windows, we close the supply and exhaust ventilation, preventing the flow of air. We have to cook our meals, take a shower - in any case, humidity appears in our apartment. If ventilation does not work, dampness appears and the corners and walls in the apartment become wet, which causes appearance of mould or fungus. In winter, people often dry linen in their apartments, which is also a cause for appearance of mould and fungus. There can be two ways out. The first is to install the supply valves. The second way is to air the rooms. It is necessary to open all windows twice a day for five minutes.

Do we need radiators with regulators in our apartments?

"In my apartment I have radiators that were used in old Soviet times. I am sure that a lot of people who live in old buildings have such radiators. Can they be replaced?

- Well, is there a need for replacing them? In my opinion, cast-iron radiators are not worse the modern ones as far as their technical characteristics are concerned. But at the same time, no one forbids replacement of radiators. Replacement of heating appliances means reconstruction of a dwelling and the project must be approved by the local executive committee. Replacement of heating appliances affects the operation of the entire heating system in the house. The project organization determines the number of the sections of the radiators and gives recommendations on how many radiator sections should be installed. Of course, the best time for replacing radiators is summer, when heating is off.

- In western countries, they usually install radiators with regulators. Do we also need to have such radiators?

- No doubt, if radiators in your apartment are equipped with regulators, the economic effect won’t be too big, but you will be able to set in your apartment quite a comfortable temperature. There is no sense in having such regulators with a vertical heating system. But in modern buildings, which are equipped with heat meters, such regulators are installed. But, as practice shows, the operation and maintenance of the system is expensive and the effect of saving is still invisible.

- But it is possible, for example, to go away for a month or so and put the regulators on a minimum?

- Your apartment does not cool down because of heat transfer from your neighboring flat. And when you put the regulator on a minimum, your neighbors have to increase the flow of heat. What is the point in it?

BE AWARE OF!

What can be done if it is too cold or too hot in your apartment?

If you are cold in the apartment, then the first thing you should do is to make sure that the temperature in the apartment is below 18 degrees centigrade. If it is confirmed by the thermometer, get in touch with the Housing and Communal Service. Experts of the Housing and Communal Service are obliged to eliminate the causes for such low temperature.

“If the temperature in the apartment is too high, it's much worse,” says Andrey Valeriyevich. "And if the temperature is above 25 degrees centigrade, you must report it not only to the Housing and Communal Service but also to the Housing Maintenance and Communal Service, the administration of your district and the Department of Energy Efficiency”.

BY THE WAY

If you have questions to the specialists of housing and communal services, send them to dom@phkp.by.

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