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EU Pleads For Less Energy Use As Energy Crisis Intensifies

Turning down the thermostat by just one or two degrees Celsius could save some 10 percent of the energy that the EU imports from Russia, the Financial Times reported in the latest sign that European governments are hard at work encouraging people to reduce their energy consumption.

The report cited estimates made by a Brussels-based economic think-tank dubbed Bruegel. According to Bruegel, the EU could save 130 terawatt-hours per year if all Europeans turn down the thermostat and the water boiler. For context, the same researchers estimate Russian energy imports at 1,700 terawatt-hours annually.

Turning down the thermostat was also one of the suggestions made by the International Energy Agency to help Europe cope with record gas prices.

"The average temperature for buildings' heating across the EU at present is above 22°C," the IEA said in its plan. "Adjusting the thermostat for buildings heating would deliver immediate annual energy savings of around 10 bcm for each degree of reduction while also bringing down energy bills."

Separately, national governments are also calling on their citizens to reduce their energy consumption. The Dutch government, for instance, launched a whole campaign promoting lower heating degrees in order to reduce the country's dependence on Russian gas.

"Our energy bills are rising, we need to become less dependent on gas from Russia, and we want to fight climate change," the campaign said, also advising the Dutch to "Put on a warm jacket or jumper, socks and slippers."

The vice-president of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, recently advised people to take shorter showers and, "when you turn off the water, say 'Take that, Putin!'"

Shorter showers are also being advised by other government officials as one way to conserve energy and reduce dependence on Russian gas.


Meanwhile, Europe is going through a cold spell, with temperatures in France hitting the lowest for this time of the year since 1947—a certainly unfortunate coincidence as European governments call for lower energy consumption.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Lee James on April 05 2022 said:
    Realistically, using energy more wisely is one of the best things that we can do in the near-term to reduce fossil fuel dependency.

    The European guideline to set back thermostats 1-degree C is doable and will produce savings. But do not forget that President Jimmy Carter suggested that we wear a sweater.

    The savings rule-of-thumb that I recall from the early 1980s is that for every 1-degree F you set back for an 8-hours period each day, you accrue a 1% reduction of your heating bill. If you setback the whole 24 hours, it's about a 3% savings.

    It is time to mobilize once again. In the short-term, conservation is called for; in the longer term, energy efficiency improvements will be implemented. All of the time we should use energy wisely. We do not use energy wisely a lot of the time because we are human.

    We need things like oil embargos and war to remind us.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 05 2022 said:
    If the Financial times were quoting figures from the Brussels-based economic think-tank dubbed Bruegel, then it got its figure wrong or simply exaggerated the figure for effect. The correct figure is 7.64% and not 10%. According to Bruegel, the EU could save 130 terawatt-hours per year if all Europeans turn down the thermostat and the water boiler. The figure of 130 terawatt-hours per year is only 7.64% of the estimated Russian energy imports at 1,700 terawatt-hours annually and not 10%.

    Moreover, asking the Europeans to turn down the thermostat by a degree or two and take shorter showers might only work if every citizen of the EU’s population of 447 million responded which is an impossibility by any definition. Even if such measures did work, then it will take the EU 13 years to eliminate the 1700 terawatt-hours of Russian energy imports.

    I have never heard more ludicrous analysis before but I shouldn’t be surprised since that analysis comes from the hapless IEA.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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