In the ongoing struggle to make it through the winter, the German government is not only buying up any and all gas it can lay its hands on, it also passed a set of regulations on August 24th for reducing the gas consumption this coming winter, to be implemented from September 1st onwards. These rules include the reduction of heating in public buildings and the imposition of regulations for private customers.
To conserve energy this coming winter, public buildings are to be heated to a maximum temperature of 19 degrees Celsius. In the past, the recommended minimum temperature in office spaces was 20 degrees Celsius. Hallways, foyers, and technical rooms will not be heated at all anymore. These rules will be active for at least half a year. On top of that, the lighting of buildings and memorials for aesthetic or representative purposes will be switched off.
The rules are not limited to the public sector. Private customers will face a new set of challenges within their own domiciles. The new rules suspend existing agreements in rental contracts that guarantee a certain minimum temperature in apartments; correlatively, tenants may no longer be obligated to maintain a minimum temperature in apartments, leading to potential damage to the buildings (e.g. mold). Gas providers and owners of larger apartment buildings will be obligated to inform tenants by the beginning of the heating season about expected energy consumption, its costs, and possibilities for saving energy.
Minister of Economy Robert Habeck (Green Party) pleaded for nationwide unity as Germany pursues energy independence from Russia: “We are about to embark on a national effort, and it will require a strong interplay between government, business, and society, between the federal level, the states, local authorities, social partners, trade unions, crafts and associations, and civil society. Every contribution counts!”
Earlier in August, we reported that German households are already facing an additional €500 a year for their gas use as part of the so called “Gasumlage,” a new levy to help gas importers to cover the cost of replacing Russian gas supplies. The levy also raised pressure on the already struggling industry, which is hit hardest by the record high in energy prices, and may force even more companies to shut down production altogether.