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Spain Initiates Energy Austerity With Air Conditioning Limits

Spain passed a decree this week limiting the use of air conditioning in public buildings as part of a strategy to conserve energy and reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Spain itself does not depend on gas from Russia, but its government is working to increase energy efficiency as the European Union looks to reduce reliance on Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of this year alone.

“Energy savings are the quickest and cheapest way to address the current energy crisis, and reduce bills,” the European Commission said last week when it unveiled details of its REPowerEU plan “to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition.”

As part of the goal to reduce consumption and bills, Spain is now limiting the use of air conditioning in public buildings. During the summer—when temperatures often rise to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 F)—air conditioning in public buildings should be set at no lower than 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 F), according to the government’s newly-passed decree on energy efficiency.

In the winter, offices and buildings where public workers work will not be heated above 19 degrees Celsius (66 F).

The limits to the use of air conditioning measures are expected to apply “whenever it is technically possible,” according to the Spanish government’s decree.

Turning down the thermostat and using less air-conditioning is one of the nine measures that the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the European Commission outlined in April, which, they say, would save EU households money, reduce EU reliance on Russian fossil fuels, support Ukraine, and help the fight against climate change. The other measures include driving at lower speeds on highways, working from home, using public transport, and giving preference to trains over short-haul flights.

Turning down the thermostat at home by just 1 degree Celsius would save around 7 percent of the energy used for heating. Setting the air conditioner 1 degree Celsius warmer could reduce the amount of electricity used by almost 10 percent, the IEA and the EC noted.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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