ARCHIV - 23.06.2022, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Pokrent: Auf einem digitalen Heizungsregler wird das Frostzeichen angezeigt und signalisiert einen abgestellten Heizkörper. Angesichts der Gaskrise sind sich viele Fachleute mit der Politik einig: Damit im kommenden Winter kein Engpass beim Gas droht, müssen alle weniger verbrauchen - auch die Bürgerinnen und Bürger. (zu dpa "«Gesetzlich verordnetes Frieren» - Wie kalt wird es zu Hause?") Foto: Jens Büttner/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Spain is pushing ahead when it comes to saving energy: Public buildings, but also offices, department stores, cinemas, hotels, train stations and airports should no longer be allowed to cool their premises below 27 degrees in summer and heat them to a maximum of 19 degrees in winter. The measures are intended to help comply with the European emergency plan for saving energy.

The EU energy ministers agreed on such a plan last week. According to this, the member states should – initially on a voluntary basis – reduce their gas consumption. The plan is initially valid until the end of March 2023. By then, demand is to be reduced by 15 percent compared to the average for the past five years. With this measure, the European Union is reacting to a possible Russian gas supply stop.

The Spanish government, which was initially skeptical about the emergency plan, is now apparently all the more motivated to meet the targets. In addition to the rules for cooling and heating throughout Spain, the cabinet in Madrid decided on a number of other measures on Monday: According to this, shops that have automatic doors must keep them closed to prevent heat or cool air from escaping, depending on the season.

The lighting of unused offices, shop windows and monuments must be switched off after 10 p.m. In addition, the Spanish Minister for Ecological Change, Teresa Ribera, called on companies to send more of their employees to work from home in order to curb energy consumption.

Certain buildings are to be checked for their energy efficiency. It is unclear exactly what this is. The energy saving measures are to be implemented after the summer recess of the Spanish Parliament and will initially apply until November 1, 2023.

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck also wants to make companies responsible. By regulation, rooms in which people do not stay long should not be heated in winter. In addition, apartment tenants should be released from their obligation to set their heating to a minimum temperature. The Greens politician also announced a mandatory functional test for gas heaters. The Union criticizes the energy saving package as insufficient.

In the meantime, many cities and municipalities are implementing their own energy-saving measures: From October, public buildings in Hanover should only be heated to a maximum of 20 degrees – outside the heating period, the devices remain completely off. Kaiserslautern even regulates down to 17 degrees.

The municipalities handle the situation in swimming pools differently, in some cases it will be colder in the future when bathing and taking a shower. More drastic energy-saving measures such as the closure of entire swimming pools are rarely implemented.

Far more noticeable is that in many places in Germany it is a bit darker than usual at night. Many cities and towns are turning off landmark lights. In Berlin, the measure affects around 200 sights.

Lights out, it is also said in France: Illuminated advertising is forbidden between one and six in the morning, except in train stations and at airports, reports the French news magazine “L’Express”. In addition, as soon as shops close, they must “systematically reduce their light intensity” and switch off their illuminated signs, according to the government’s plan.

If companies do not comply with the energy saving measures, they face hefty fines. Air-conditioned shops that do not keep their automatic doors closed risk a fine of 750 euros, the report said.

In public buildings – as in other countries – the air conditioning systems are turned up and the heating down, according to the “L’Express”. The population is asked to turn on the dishwasher only once a day, turn off the lights in unused rooms and turn off the television and internet router when not in use.

In Italy, the government has not yet decided on comprehensive energy saving measures. Before the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, however, regulations were being worked on. This includes, among other things, switching off the lighting at sights and changing opening hours for companies, reports the British newspaper “The Guardian”. The measures have not yet been implemented.

However, since May 1st, the rule in Italy has been that air conditioning systems in public buildings are no longer allowed to cool below 27 degrees. In winter, the maximum temperature is 19 degrees. Violations can result in penalties of between 500 and 3,000 euros, reports Deutsche Welle.

Even in Greece, on the Mediterranean coast, the air conditioning systems in summer are not allowed to cool the room temperature in public buildings below 27 degrees, reports the “Guardian”. Employees are encouraged to turn off computers after work. In addition, a funding program worth 640 million euros is intended to improve the energy efficiency of public buildings.

The Greek Minister of Tourism addressed a rather unusual energy-saving measure to German pensioners in mid-July. Vassilis Kikilias invited them to his country to spend the winter. The mayor of Chania on the island of Crete, Panagiotis Simandirakis, supported the call. “We invite every German who wants to come to us this winter to live here – far from the crises,” he told “Bild”.

Meanwhile, Ireland is still managing without restrictive measures to save energy. The Sustainable Energy Agency advises the population to heat living areas to a maximum of 20 degrees, reports the Guardian. A temperature of between 15 and 18 degrees would be sufficient in hallways and bedrooms. The authority also recommends using the dishwasher and washing machine less often.

Belgium is also reluctant to introduce energy-saving rules. The government, on the other hand, rewards energy-saving renovation work with a significantly lower VAT, reports Deutsche Welle. The tax rate “for construction products and services such as demolition and renovation and for solar panels, heat pumps and solar boilers” was reduced from 21 to six percent.