In Hungary, traditional design meets efficiency for big savings

Apro’Tech aims to help communities most vulnerable to energy poverty through efficient heaters that match their way of life.  

In Hungary, rates of energy poverty have sharply increased since the early 2000s, following a shift to natural gas and subsequent rising prices for imports. More recently, up to 22% of households have returned to heating systems based on firewood or coal. In addition to being inefficient, these traditional systems result in more time spent collecting and preparing fuels, and can have negative impacts on health due to indoor air pollution. Recognising that low-income households need sustainable and efficient heating solutions, Apro’Tech designs and builds traditional bricks and tiled masonry heaters that are more efficient. Made locally with local materials, the stoves are also quite an affordable option.  

Compared with metal stoves typically used by low-income families, Apro’Tech designs have three main advantages:  

  • an improved firebox design ensures that the wood burns much hotter and therefore cleaner;   
  • the fire transfers its heat to a large thermal mass, which then slowly releases it into the home over 8 to 18 hours; and  
  • the smoke doesn’t directly exit through the chimney.  

Because they consume fewer resources, these more efficient stoves deliver substantial financial savings. They also mean people spend less time to collect and prepare wood fuel. Importantly, the clean burn also reduces air pollution both outdoors and indoors.  

Apro’Tech hopes to partner with the Masonry Association in Hungary to explore the possibility of experts building and installing the units. During the mentoring phase, the organisation will develop a strategic plan to strengthen this collaboration and gain more experience in presentations and pitching. 

Apro’tech is one of 15 finalists in the 2019 Social Innovation to Tackle Energy Poverty Program, launched by the Schneider Electric Foundation and Ashoka in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.  

Photo Credits: Janos Kummer