Czechia's electricity prices see greatest rise in EU: Can airdrying and handwashing help?

Czech electricity prices rose at the sharpest rate across the EU in early 2022; a new govt. website aims to help consumers amid the energy crisis.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 02.11.2022 15:00:00 (updated on 02.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Energy prices have been sharply rising through much of Europe since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine – residents of Czechia are certainly feeling the pinch. In the summer, it was reported that Czechia had Europe's most expensive electricity (adjust for purchasing power), the price of which is getting unsettlingly higher.

Indeed, newly released data from Eurostat reveals that in the first half of this year Czech households suffered the highest price increase in electricity out of the whole of the EU on a year-on-year basis. The government has responded by offering subsidies, grants, and money-saving advice on how to keep costs down this winter.

Electricity prices rose by 62 percent year-on-year from January to June, with Czech residents now needing to pay CZK 754 per 100-kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity, compared with CZK 466 in the first half of 2021. 

Latvia, Denmark, and Estonia also registered substantial electricity price rises of over 50 percent. The Netherlands, Slovenia, Poland, and Hungary are among countries that recorded falls in price, which are explained by state-sponsored subsidies, allowances, and special price tariffs.

Czechia's rise in electricity bills has regrettably been an ongoing trend. Data from the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO) found that electricity prices rose by 37.8 percent year on year in September. This followed a 30.8 percent year-on-year rise in electricity prices in the second quarter of this year. 

Some residents of Břeclav in South Moravia, the Czech region with the country's most expensive electricity, even saw their monthly energy bills in October rise by five times, as reported by Seznam Zprávy.

Natural-gas prices paint a similar story – gas bills in Czechia rocketed by 71 percent year on year in the first half of 2022, from CZK 145 per 100 kWh to CZK 249. This, however, was not as high as in other countries such as Estonia and Lithuania, which registered increases of 125 percent and 110 percent respectively.

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Why is Czechia feeling the crunch?

Analysts claim that the sharp rise in prices is mainly caused by inadequate steps taken by the state. ENAS Energy Services analyst Vladimír Štěpán blames the high prices on Czechia purchasing its energy from the European Energy Exchange, where prices are at above-average levels compared with home-produced electricity. "We have the lowest production costs of electricity and the highest price," he surmised in iDnes.cz.

According to energy analyst and executive director of the Association of Independent Energy Suppliers Jiří Gavo, “for a long time, the Czech Republic tried to avoid blanket forms of assistance," which led to an unsustainable situation. This inaction came during times when other EU states were either introducing special tariffs or implementing tax-relief measures.

Turn up your fridge and turn down the heat!

The government has taken a number of steps to give consumers a lifeline, including announcing energy-saving tariffs, and introducing price ceilings on electricity and gas. Some critics, however, say that the caps are too high and have come too late.

In addition, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has launched a new website, zkrotimeenergie.cz, to help people navigate the energy crisis.

Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka, told iDnes.cz that "everyone who owns an apartment or property should really 'glance' at the website, think about whether they can implement some of the described measures and reduce their energy expenses day by day."

Step-by-step instructions are given on receiving extra housing benefits and how to claim immediate, emergency state aid if a person’s income is below the subsistence minimum and energy bills are unable to be paid.

In August the government also launched a calculator to see how large a subsidy households are entitled to for their energy bills.

The site also gives useful tips on the most effective ways of saving energy, including estimates of how much one would save.

How to save energy in an apartment with central heating
•Reducing the indoor heating temperature by 3 degrees Celsius saves CZK 1,972
•Manually drying clothes instead of using a dryer saves CZK 2,410
•Raising the temperature of the fridge saves CZK 964
•Washing dishes in the dishwasher (instead of under the tap) saves CZK 635
•Lowering the water-heating temperature saves CZK 1,144
Source: zkrotimeenergie.cz

Looking ahead

Government officials are hopeful for a swift decline in electricity prices. Representative of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Martin Sedlák said that so far this year gas consumption has declined by 13 percent compared with the year-earlier period.

Electricity consumption is also registering a decline. According to CZSO data cited in ČTK, in the third quarter electricity consumption decreased by 4.1 percent year on year.

Dependent on warm weather and people's cost-saving actions, gas and electricity consumption should further decline in the fourth quarter.

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