Spanish government bans ACs in public buildings from falling below 27 °C

As Europe grapples with scorching heat and skyrocketing energy prices, Spain has become the latest government to ask its citizens to turn off ACs.

A decree published Tuesday morning in the Official State Gazette and set to take effect next week mandates that air conditioning in public places be set at or above 27 °C (about 80 °F) and that the doors of those buildings remain closed to protect energy.

Those public places include offices, shops, bars, theatres, airports and train stations. The decree is being extended as a recommendation to all Spanish families. The rules include maintaining temperatures at or below 19 °C (about 66 °F) in winter and will remain in place until at least November 2023.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said publicly that the country urgently needs to save energy, even encouraging office workers to sever their ties to help them stay calm without artificial aid. . “I have told ministers and bosses in the public and private sector not to wear a tie unless it is necessary,” he told a press conference last week.

Leaving aside frivolous suggestions, European countries are scrambling to solve the twin problems; The scorching heat which is increasing the demand for energy and the political conflict which is complicating the energy supply. Nations including Spain are facing increasing pressure for not relying on Russian-supplied gas amid the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

According to a report in GuardianGreece and Italy last month announced measures to restrict energy use when cooling public buildings, as well as requiring air conditioning to be set at 27 degrees Celsius or higher.

France has ordered public premises to install thermostats higher in summer and lower in winter, and fined air-conditioned businesses €750 if they leave their doors open. The German city of Hanover has banned the use of mobile air conditioning units and fan heaters everywhere except in hospitals and schools.

But not everyone agrees with these new measures. Madrid Region President Isabel Diaz Ayuso tweeted“Madrid is not going to shut down. It creates insecurity and scares tourism and consumption.”

In Europe, where some countries enjoy a climate that has traditionally been milder than the US, less than 10 percent of American homes have air conditioning, compared to more than 90 percent of American homes. But as heatwaves increase in frequency, the International Energy Agency estimates that Europe will triple its air-conditioning stock to about 275 million units by 2050.

Correction, Wednesday, August 3, 6:02 PM: An earlier version of this article included a sentence that incorrectly stated that the mandate to set the AC below 27 degrees required the temperature to be set above 27 degrees.



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