Behind the radiator of your home
For most visitors, expats and immigrants who come to Finland, our country appears as a relatively cold place. And they are not wrong, especially if you have a chance to visit Lapland and other northern parts of this country. Midwinter is a season when skills in protecting yourself with multiple layers of clothing become essential.
While our houses and buildings are highly insulated, this alone is not enough – we need heating, and we have various solutions for that. Since electricity prices have skyrocketed for us all, direct electric heating and ground heating have become options Finns might consider as riskier.
So, what other options are there?
Even if seeing a radiator at home is not new for most people, surprisingly few know what kind of a network it is connected to.
District heating is centrally and locally produced heat that is distributed through a pipe system to the served community, especially to apartment buildings and publicly used office and commercial buildings. District heating is Finland’s most utilized heating solution due to its efficiency, affordability and high-level of security throughout the year. District heating is, above all, a heating solution for countries located in cold climate, where a cut in heating during the coldest times might be catastrophic.
District heating has gotten its attention in terms of energy crisis as well, but the effects differ due to local circumstances and local ways of producing heat. There is visible polarization in this matter across Finland: singular companies using lots of fossil fuels (including coal, natural gas, and oil) in their heat production have suffered the most, predominantly because of the war started by Russia, whereas companies with a different kind of energy source foundation have not. Here I am referring to companies that produce heat with domestic sources, and to those with waste-to-energy plants. European emission trading prices have their addition to the final price equation, as well.
Nevertheless, we can see unifying features in most district heating companies of Finland: the aim of full carbon neutrality. As a pleasant note, some of the companies have already reached this goal, and many companies are offering the possibility to buy solely carbon neutral heating that has the issued guarantee of origin. In Finland, guarantee of origin is issued by the Energy Authority.
In accordance with most of Europe, Finland has also launched its national energy saving campaign. The campaign includes e.g., lowering room temperature and shortening one’s time in the shower. Did you know that by lowering your room temperature by mere one degree (℃), you also lower heating energy consumption by 5 percent?
While district heating system has its salient position in getting through the energy crisis, saving energy is the key action all of us can take. While we might be less reliant on e.g., natural gas when compared to countries such as Germany, we as Europeans are all in this together. In the best-case scenario, the benefits of district heating network become more visible to not only Finns, but to all Europeans.
Text: Justus Luokkanen