energy crisis

Cold rooms, wood-burning: this is how rural villages are dealing with soaring energy prices

Mrs György Fodor, who lives in Kiszombor, has been paying 28 thousand HUF a month for gas so far out of her 82 thousand HUF pension, and it’s almost November, but she has not received a new energy bill yet. It is 17 degrees Celsius in her apartment and she only lights the fire in the afternoon – with wood. According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office data, gas consumption has increased in most Csongrád-Csanád County settlements in recent years, people interviewed by Átlátszó are preparing for winter with trepidation. Video.

We asked people in two settlements in Csongrád-Csanád county how they prepare for winter, what they use for heating, and whether they are afraid of rising gas prices. According to Hungarian Central Statistical Office data, in Kiszombor there were 1,292 houses outfitted with gas heating in 2016, rising to 1,328 by 2020. The amount of gas per household consumer increased by 24% to 1328 cubic metres per year. On paper, this is still far less than the ration of 1728 cubic metres per year subsidized by the government. Up to this limit, gas price is capped.

In Mrs György Fodor’s room, it is 17-19 degrees Celsius during the day and she only lights up in the afternoon. The gas convector is turned off: the new price would be 106 thousand forints a month for gas to heat the big room, but she cannot afford that with a pension of 82 thousand forints a month. The elderly woman from Kisombor told Atlatszo reporters, that “I am 72 years old, but I never thought we would get here. I didn’t think”.


A few kilometres from Kiszombor, in Klárafalva, according to the official data, gas consumption is low. The amount per household is less than 900 cubic metres, and this has been falling for years. According to locals, this is no coincidence: they switched to wood firing earlier.

“I was living in Zombor, and I had gas heating there, it was a convector thing, and my daughter was born at the same time, and we had to use the heating. Now, I have to know that on a daily basis, if I take the fact that we were at home for 12 hours, my wife worked only 8 hours. So basically, in a 10 hour, 12 hour period ten cubic metres were consumed per day. So let’s calculate how much would it cost now”, said János Sulik.

But neither is relaxed anyone who heats with wood. “I purchased firewood before inflation, when it was four thousand forints a cubic metre. I bought thirty cubic metres, you can do the math.” However, since the current energy crisis started, the price of firewood skyrocketed as well in Hungary, and it is increasingly difficult to buy it on the market.

Reported by Csaba Segesvári, video by Bence Bodoky. The Hungarian version of this story is available here.