News / 17.2.2020

Study: 53 per cent of Helsinki residents would choose green district heat – only a few know that it’s available to anyone

According to a study commissioned by the energy company Helen, Helsinki residents do not know that they can have an impact on the way their homes are heated. There is low awareness among the respondents that they can have a say in choosing the form of heat production for their homes: this freedom of choice is clear to only 7 per cent. At the same time, more than half of the respondents would definitely or probably switch their current district heat to an eco-friendly alternative if the cost of it would be minor. 

“An extremely interesting result was that switching the heating of your home to a climate-friendly alternative is regarded as the fifth most effective way to fight against climate change. However, it is one of the last ones on the list of the respondents’ personal eco actions,” says Anssi Juvonen, Helen’s Product Group Manager for heating and cooling products.

Zero emissions with Helen’s Renewable District Heat

Not many respondents know that these days residents themselves can decide on changing the heating method of each individual dwelling. General heating solutions are made on a centralised basis at the housing company-level. For this reason, there is still a common misconception that residents themselves cannot have a say on the heating method of their own homes.

“With Helen’s Renewable District Heat, Helsinki residents living in an apartment or in terraced, semi-detached and detached homes can decide to set the emissions from the heating of their homes to zero and do a significant climate action. Renewable district heat is similar to the green electricity contract, and the price is determined according to the size of the home,” Juvonen says.

Helen produces Renewable District Heat from the waste heat of purified wastewater in Sörnäinen in the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant.

Helsinki residents prepared to pay for zero emissions

To customers connected to the district heating network, switching the heat production method costs only an average of just over 2 euros per month more than at present. Six out of ten respondents would be prepared to pay even more than that to make their district heating completely free of emissions.

“With renewable district heat, customers can heat their homes with fully recycled and emission-free heat, which originates from purified waste water. District heat customers have an opportunity to influence climate work with their own choices and that way promote the move towards a carbon-neutral energy system. Renewable district heat gives Helsinki residents a chance to make personal eco-friendly consumer choices, whether they own their homes or not,” says Antti Juvonen. 

Signing up for renewable district heat is as easy as drawing up an electricity contract. The product switch does not require any changes to the heating systems and the product can be taken into use straight away. The volume of the product purchased by the customer equals the consumption of their own home.

Ways of taking part in the climate campaign vary by age group

Helsinki residents regard the switching of heating to a more climate-friendly alternative is the fifth most effective way for individuals to have an impact on a sustainable climate development. According to the respondents, the most effective way is to favour public transport or car sharing instead of private cars. The next most effective actions are avoiding buying fast fashion, reducing air travel and increasing the recycling of household waste.

What other ways to slow down climate change have the Helsinki residents learned or what would they be prepared to learn in their everyday lives? The order is not the same as with the actions deemed to be the most effective. The respondents reduce or could reduce the burden on the environment and climate, above all, by recycling more. The next most popular eco actions are using public transport or car sharing, avoiding fast fashion and saving energy in homes, for example, by switching the lights off in unoccupied rooms.

“According to the study, energy saving in homes, using public transport and recycling of waste are eco actions that are especially popular among older generations. The responses of younger people, on the other hand, emphasised awareness of the impact of diet and circular economy on reducing the climate burden.”


* All age groups regard the reduction of air travel as an effective way.

* Young people are more of the opinion than older age groups that eating less meat and more vegetables is more effective.

* Especially those aged 65 and over see the role of household waste recycling as significant.

* 50-64-year-olds are more of the opinion than the other age groups that the role of public transport and car sharing is important.

* Women seem to be more active or informed in terms of their own actions to reduce the burden on the environment and the climate.

* Young people appear to be more informed and active in actually doing more about reducing the burden – especially actions concerning diet and circular economy were highlighted.

The study with 800 respondents was commissioned by Helen in the M3 Panel maintained by Bilendi Oy on 4–11 December 2019. The target group consisted of Helsinki residents over 18 years of age, who have moved out of their parents’ home and are responsible for purchases for their household. The sample is weighted by gender, but the age structure focuses on older age groups than the actual population in Helsinki.

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