As Europe grapples with a scorching summer and skyrocketing energy prices, Spain has become the latest government to tell its citizens to turn down the AC.
A decree published Tuesday morning in the Official Gazette and expected to take effect next week requires that air conditioning in public areas be set at or below 27 degrees Celsius (about 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and that the doors of those buildings remain closed to energy.
Those public places include offices, shops, bars, theaters, airports and train stations. The decree is extended as a recommendation to all Spanish households. The rules include maintaining heating at or below 19 degrees Celsius (about 66 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter and will remain in effect at least until November 2023.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has publicly stated the country’s urgent need to conserve energy, even encouraging office workers to loosen their ties to keep a cool head without artificial aid. “I have asked ministers and bosses in the public and private sectors not to wear ties unless it is necessary,” he said at a news conference last week.
Lighthearted suggestions aside, European countries struggle to solve twin problems; scorching heat that drives up energy demand and political conflicts that complicate energy supplies. Countries, including Spain, are facing increasing pressure not to depend on gas supplied by Russia amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
According to an report in the guardGreece and Italy last month announced measures to similarly limit energy consumption when cooling public buildings, including setting air conditioning to no less than 27 degrees Celsius.
France has ordered public buildings to turn up thermostats in summer and lower in winter and air-conditioned companies will be fined €750 if they leave their doors open. The city of Hanover, Germany, has banned the use of mobile air conditioning units and fan heaters everywhere except in hospitals and schools.
Por parte de la Comunidad de Madrid no se aplicará. Madrid no apaga.
Esto genera inseguridad y espanta el turismo y el consumo.
Provoca oscuridad, pobreza, tristeza, mientras el Gobierno tapa la pregunta: qué ahorro se va a aplicar a sí mismo? https://t.co/3nDyfnwsxb
— Isabel Diaz Ayuso (@IdiazAyuso) August 1, 2022
But not everyone agrees with these new measures. The President of the Madrid Region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso tweeted“Madrid is not going to shut down. That creates uncertainty and deters tourism and consumption.”
In Europe, where some countries have historically milder climates than much of the US, less than 10 percent of households have air conditioning, compared to more than 90 percent of American households. But as heat waves increase in frequency, the International Energy Agency predicts that Europe will nearly triple its air conditioning stock to 275 million units by 2050.