Brno - The State Environment Fund (SFŽP) was swamped with enquiries on Wednesday 22 April, the first day in which people can apply for subsidies from the programme Zelená úsporám (Green Light to Saving) that will help them make their homes more energy efficient.
"Queues formed at our regional branches starting in the morning; we were swamped," SFŽP spokeswoman Lenka Brandtová told Aktuálně.cz.
She added that most people only came to enquire, mainly about how much money they can get and other technical details. Shortly after the branches opened on Wednesday, the SFŽP received the first two applications for funding but, according to Brandtová, they contained errors the applicants will have to correct.
Up to CZK 25bn to make homes greener
The government will hand out CZK 10 billion this year and up to CZK 15 billion over the next three years to help families improve the heat insulation of their homes or to switch from coal heating to more environmentally friendly energy.
The state will raise the funds by selling unneeded carbon credits to countries exceeding their pollution quota.
"This is the largest programme for environmental subsidies in our history," said Environment Minister Martin Bursík when launching Zelená úsporám at a construction trade fair in Brno.
The government hopes the money will help families save up to tens of thousands of crowns per year on heating; improve of quality on air, especially in smaller municipalities currently relying on coal heating; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as dependence on natural gas imports from Russia.
"Almost a third of Czech households' spending goes to energies; that can significantly change now," said Bursík.
Where to apply and how
Home owners can apply for subsidies until the end of 2012 at the regional branches of the SFŽP or, starting in late May, at the branches of selected banks. The SFŽP has already pre-selected five partner banks and is currently negotiating contracts.
The terms and conditions as well as downloadable forms are available at www.zelenausporam.cz. Enquiries can be made on workdays between 8am and 4pm on 800 260 500.
The SFŽP says those interested need not rush their applications. "There is enough money in the programme; no need to push the panic button," says Petr Štěpánek, SFŽP director.