The European Union (EU) is putting energy savings at the heart of measures to curb gas demand following economic sanctions against Moscow due to the war between Russia and Ukraine.
This decision comes after Russian energy giant, Gazprom, said Monday that it would reduce gas flow through the Nord Stream 1, one of the most important lines for the transmission of Russian gas to Europe.
The company cited maintenance on a critical Siemens turbine engine at the Portovaya compressor station as the reason for the reduced flow of gas on the pipeline that is crucial for the transfer of Russian gas to Europe via Germany.
The company confirmed that exports via the pipeline that transmits 167 million cubic meters of gas per day would be cut from the 40% range last week to 20% due to turbine problems.
In response, Germany, Europe's top economy and largest importer of Russian gas, took the initiaive to implement energy saving measures.
'We can all contribute,' Robert Habeck, Germany's minister of economy, said, urging citizens and companies to demonstrate extraordinary strength together in the face of gas crisis.
Habeck, who advised citizens to 'keep the shower time short' a month ago, noted that 'unpleasant steps' would be avoided if gas consumption is reduced and power is saved.
The ministry urged filing gas tanks to capacity and initiated an Energy Security Package in preparation for winter. The package includes reactivating coal power plants for gas savings, using more renewable sources for electricity generation and avoiding heating areas that are not regularly used, such as large halls, corridors and technical rooms in public buildings and schools etc.
Homeowners with gas heating system will be obliged to set a temperature control, while heating of pools with gas will be banned. Furthermore, the country is debating the extension of operations at nuclear power plants, the temporary closure of which was previously agreed.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner also proposed optimizing the settings of gas-fired heating systems and switching to work-from-home in the public sector over Christmas to avoid heating public buildings during this period.
Some municipalities have already started taking energy saving steps. Berlin will no longer light around 200 buildings at night, and the Municipality in Hanover has agreed to no longer heat swimming pools with gas, keep the temperature at gyms to 15 degrees Celsius, discourage hot showers and shut down fountains and sprinklers.
Other states and municipalities are also preparing to take similar measures.
The Croatian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Davor Filipovic, also stressed that as 40% of energy consumption in the country is for buildings, he urged energy savings in heating, lighting and household appliances to make buildings energy-friendly.
He suggested reducing the heating temperature in households by 1 degree Celsius during winter to realize annual energy savings of 5%.
He also recommended LED lamps for home lighting and more use of public transportation to avoid costly and energy-intensive car journeys.
- Slovenia reduces VAT on energy for heating
The Slovenian Economy Minister, Klemen Bostjancic, announced VAT reductions in all energy for heating, including electricity and natural gas.
He stated that the current VAT rate of 22% will be reduced to 9.5% during the peak heating season between Sept. 1 this year and May 31 next year.
- Italy and Spain restrict air conditioning usage
Italy is also taking measures to cope with the rising energy prices due to the war. The government took a decision in April to ban the use of air conditioners from operating below 25-27 degrees Celsius in public offices as of May 1. The government will also impose a fine on those who do not comply with this decision in public buildings.
The Spanish government also decided in May to ban air conditioners in public buildings from working below 27 degrees Celsius as part of measures to combat increasing energy costs.
Lighting will be banned at certain hours in France and shops that run air conditioners will be banned from keeping their doors open, imposing a fine of €750 for non-compliance.
The country's Minister of Ecological Transition, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, said the ban on nocturnal lighting, which is currently imposed in areas with a population of less than 800,000, excluding airports and terminals, would also apply throughout the whole country between 0100 GMT and 0600 GMT, and that a €1,500 penalty would be applied for non-conformity.
Reporting by Askin Kiyagan in Vienna
Writing by Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu