Pricey Energy May Make Insulation More Enticing

typical buildings in istanbul neighborhood skyline photo

Only a small percentage of buildings in Istanbul are insulated.

When I saw my most recent gas bill, I turned the heat off completely. Many of my friends here did the same thing, at least until we realized that our outrage wasn't going to keep us warm at night. Household natural-gas costs in Istanbul have almost doubled since last winter. While at least one resident told the Hürriyet Daily News that he might start to "sit at home covered with blankets"--the once mocked, now grudgingly fashionable Jimmy Carter solution--many Turkish families are turning to burning coal to heat their houses. Some, though, are considering a more eco-friendly solution.Although only an estimated 10 to 12 percent of Turkey's 20 million buildings have insulation, the spike in gas costs has increased awareness about its importance, Hürriyet reports.

Reducing home energy needs by adding insulation would not only have a financial benefit in Turkey--where energy consumption is heavily taxed at a rate of 19 percent, compared to 3.1 percent in France, for example--but a security one, as the country imports most of its energy, mainly in the form of natural gas from Russia and Iran.

New laws and incentives
Some local banks are offering low-interest credit on loans to pay for insulation installations, and in 2000, the Ministry of Public Works and Settlement set standards for building insulation. More comprehensive regulations have recently been put into effect, but with so many buildings being constructed illegally--up to 85 percent in Istanbul, and 45 percent in Ankara, the country's capital--it may be hard to get the desired outcome by enacting laws.

Levent Ürkmez, the board president of İZODER, the Temperature, Water, Noise and Fire Insulators Association, told Hürriyet that up to $1.5 million in energy savings could have resulted if all of the new buildings--almost 500,000--constructed following passage of the 2000 law met the regulations. "In technically proficient installations," he said, "we can achieve a 50 percent reduction in heating and cooling costs." That would get gas bills right back to normal, without sitting around shivering or polluting the air. Via: "Time for insulation," Hürriyet Daily News
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