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Global Economy

Where and how energy needs to be saved

Starting next week, numerous energy-saving regulations will apply in Germany. The Federal Government has passed two ordinances on the basis of the Energy Security Act. The first regulation applies from September 1st to February 28th. The second ordinance is to apply for two years from October 1st – but it still has to be approved by the Federal Council.

According to Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck, the aim of the new regulations is to "save significantly more gas" in the coming and subsequent heating periods with "a national effort". The specific requirements relate to private households, companies and public administration. Who needs to save energy and how? An overview.

Minimum temperature in rental apartments

As of September, the ordinance will suspend clauses in rental contracts in which tenants are obliged to ensure a certain minimum temperature in the rented rooms by heating. This means that tenants are allowed to heat less if they want to save energy – it gives them additional leeway to also save on heating costs. However, the tenants remain obliged to “prevent damage to the rented property through appropriate heating and ventilation behavior”.

Heating private pools

Private pools – whether indoors or outdoors – can no longer be heated with gas and electricity. An exception applies if the swimming pool is used for therapeutic purposes. Pools in hotels, leisure facilities or rehabilitation centers are not affected.

Maximum temperature in public buildings

In public buildings, work rooms may only be heated to a maximum room temperature of 19 degrees. If heavy physical activities are carried out in the corresponding rooms, the permitted maximum temperatures are even lower. So far, the recommended minimum temperature according to the ministry was 20 degrees. In public buildings, passageways such as corridors and foyers, large halls or technical rooms should no longer be heated. The new regulations expressly do not apply to clinics, care facilities or other social institutions.

Hot water in public buildings

Another savings measure concerns washbasins in public buildings, which are mainly used for washing hands. Boilers and instantaneous water heaters for hot water preparation at these washbasins must be switched off – unless hygienic reasons require otherwise. Where the hot water is heated centrally, the temperature must be lowered – but only as far as is necessary to avoid the risk of legionella in the drinking water. Exceptions to the rules mentioned apply to schools, daycare centers, care facilities and hospitals, among others.

Lighting of buildings and monuments

The lighting of buildings and monuments for purely aesthetic or representative reasons will be switched off. Excluded are short-term lighting at cultural events and folk festivals. The safety and emergency lighting may remain on.

Neon signs and shop windows

Neon signs must be turned off from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. An exception only applies if they are necessary for traffic safety purposes, such as at railway underpasses or bus stops. In these cases they are to be treated like street lighting. The ban on night lighting also applies to shop windows.

shop doors

If shops are heated, they are no longer allowed to keep their shop doors permanently open between September and the end of February. This also applies to other entrance systems if thermal heat is lost when opening. Exceptions only apply if the entrance or exit in question must be kept open in order to function as an escape route.

Temperatures in rooms of private companies

The ordinance does not stipulate that room temperatures in offices, for example, have to be reduced. According to the ministry, however, companies will also be able to heat less in the commercial sector in a legally secure manner. This is the basis for voluntary commitments by companies and company agreements to save energy. The ordinance of the federal government specifically stipulates that the maximum temperatures specified for work rooms in public buildings apply as the minimum temperature in commercially used rooms.

Information obligations towards tenants

Gas suppliers and owners of larger residential buildings must inform their customers or tenants at an early stage – about the expected energy consumption, its costs and potential savings. This should happen by the start of the heating season at the latest.

Check heaters and energy consumption

Further measures are to come into force from October 1st. They affect public, private and company buildings. Among other things, a mandatory annual heating inspection for buildings with gas heating is planned. The so-called hydronic balancing is becoming mandatory for large buildings with a central heat supply using natural gas if it has not been done before.

Inefficient, uncontrolled heating pumps in buildings with natural gas heating have to be replaced because, according to the ministry, they are energy guzzlers.

Companies with an energy consumption of 10 gigawatt hours or more per year are obliged to take energy efficiency measures – if they have already carried out an energy audit in which consumption and potential savings are broken down.

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