According to national surveys, in Chile approximately 20,000 houses have no access to electricity, while 66% of households do not have minimum standards of thermal insulation, and 21% of people report being cold inside their houses during winter.
The manager of Instituto Forestal Los Ríos, Alejandra Schueftan, put emphasis on the National Energy Policy, which gives an outlook of the energy sector by 2050, and the Strategy for Residential Energy Transition. “This outlook responds to a systemic approach aimed at achieving and keeping the reliability of the entire energy system. Likewise, it complies with sustainability and inclusion criteria and contributes to the competitiveness of the country’s economy. However, challenges certainly remain. For instance, approving the Law on Solid Biofuels and the Law on District Energy would allow to advance in the technological development for a sustainable use of fuelwoods and more efficient heating systems”, she emphasized.
Alejandra Schueftan also pointed out that the pandemic may exacerbate the situation of energy poverty. “Spending more time at home increases firewood consumption, and, therefore, there is a higher exposure to pollutants. Firewood is used by all families, regardless their income levels. In fact, it is used in more than 90% of houses in most cities, especially in the south. Likewise, several studies indicate that spending long periods in cold and damp houses has a negative impact on people’s physical and mental health, and affects the respiratory system (which could intensify the effects of COVID-19)”, she said.
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