Monday, August 15

What Brussels asks you to spend less gas: shorter showers, turn off appliances and lower the air conditioning

“Cut off the gas in your homes, reduce the dependency of those who attack Ukraine”, cried out the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell, in the European Parliament. A little over a week had passed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Borrell was calling on Europeans: “Cut off the gas in your homes. Let us commit ourselves more to a collective defense, which is an obligation of the treaties and to which we have paid too little attention until now”.

With the passage of time, the message has been penetrating, to the point that in recent days it has been circulated that the European Commission would ask the Governments to prohibit in public buildings that the thermostat in winter be higher than 19 degrees and that the air conditioning in summer is below 25 degrees.

In the end, the European Commission does not specify so much, and speaks of the “obligation that public buildings limit heating and cooling temperatures unless it is technically not feasible.

But, what does Brussels ask of citizens? “Everyone can contribute,” she says.

Additional reduction in demand for heating and cooling of buildings, or heating of water. In an emergency, if security of electricity supply is at risk, EU and national security of supply rules allow prioritization of gas supply to certain critical gas-fired power plants and to certain categories of protected consumers, says the community executive.

However, “the fact that the gas supply is guaranteed for homes and certain critical plants should not prevent public authorities from taking further measures to reduce gas consumption, as well as promoting voluntary reductions. This is essential so that we do not have to cut back on industrial customers that are critical to society and the economy.”

Behavior changes. Brussels defends the incidence of modifying habits, “such as reducing the temperature of the home, shortening showers, turning off appliances instead of putting them on standby, cooking, refrigerating and freezing efficiently.”

According to the European Commission “the greater the reduction through voluntary actions, the less the need for mandatory restrictions in the future. Also, lower gas consumption means lower bills.”

The European Commission defends that gas savings can be achieved already in summer by reducing the maximum consumption of refrigeration: “During the ‘gas winter’ (October-March) great savings can be achieved by deploying heat sources alternatives for district heating, through heat pumps and smart energy management systems in homes, and through gas saving campaigns, for example, to lower the thermostat by 1 degree” or use less hot water.

Of course, Brussels recognizes that this cannot be asked of “those who can no longer adequately heat their homes.”

Rates with savings incentives. “Well-designed bonus-malus pricing can also encourage behavioral changes and additional savings.”

“Require reduced heating of public buildingsoffices, commercial buildings and open spaces such as outdoor terraces, where technically feasible and required”, continues the European Commission: “The role of public authorities in leading by example is key in this regard”.

“Everyone can save gas, even protected customers.” Brussels argues that “information campaigns to make consumers aware that, as far as possible, they should start saving gas, together with electricity, which often depends on gas, can lead to a considerable reduction in the consumption of electricity”. gas”.

The idea is to make everyone aware consumers, industries, companies, public authorities and households, “but also give concrete and operational examples of how gas consumption can be reduced, for example through behavioral changes: lower the thermostat or the temperature of the water during the season of heating, which would generate significant gas savings.

The Commission urges all States members “that have not yet done so, to implement this type of measure, while supporting the most vulnerable households, which in some countries have already been limiting their consumption below comfort levels.”

“It is imperative that all member states start implementing these measures immediately,” says the European Commission, “even those that have not yet declared early warning. In fact, many Member States reported that they were putting in place awareness raising measures, but also grant schemes for households and businesses focused on building renovation, heat pump deployment and other fuel switching, as well as fuel substitution. of existing devices and equipment for more efficient ones”.

When the alert level is decreed, national plans could include a mandatory national reduction of consumption in the heating and cooling sector, without compromising the principle that households, district heating and certain essential services are protected customers. and that its supply is guaranteed.

“An effective way is require reduction of heating and cooling temperature and water in public buildings, in shopping malls, office buildings and public spaces”, says Brussels. And it summarizes: “National public awareness campaigns; mandatory reduction of buildings operated on behalf of public administrations; bonus malus pricing schemes; reduction of consumption in shopping centers, offices and public spaces; establish new temperature thresholds and/or schedules for heating”.

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