Despite a scorching summer, Germans are already fearing the approaching winter. The feared effects of dwindling Russian gas supplies in a country so dependent on it are already being felt at the municipal swimming pools in Hanover, Lower Saxony, where bathers have no choice but to shower… with cold water.
Amid an energy price boom and as the prospect of Russia turning off its gas supplies grows Germany’s worries, authorities have been relentless in their calls for energy savings. The cities, with their heat-consuming administrative, sports and cultural buildings, must also participate in the target demanded by Brussels of a 15 percent reduction in energy consumption at national level.
Set of recommendations for saving energy
The Association of German Major Cities has issued a list of recommendations ahead of next winter’s bottlenecks and cities being hit hard by rising petrol prices. “We have to save every possible kilowatt hour,” said the president of the association, who proposes, for example, reducing public lighting at night and air conditioning in public buildings.
The organization also proposes turning off hot water in certain public buildings or reducing heating of communal swimming pools. Another avenue under consideration is restoring ventilation systems to their pre-pandemic operating levels. According to the association, it would even be possible to stop them entirely where ventilation is possible by opening the windows.
night light off
Several major cities have already implemented measures. The Lower Saxony state capital of Hanover, for example, has turned off the hot water in the showers in public swimming pools and gyms as well as the hot water in the taps in public buildings. Public buildings are heated to a maximum of 20 degrees between October and March, gymnasiums only to 15 degrees. In addition to reducing or optimizing the lighting in many public places, the city has also switched off its fountains. Hanover wants to reduce its electricity consumption by 15%.
The northern German city is not the only one to have taken drastic measures. Several large municipalities, including Berlin, have lowered the temperature of indoor and outdoor pools. The capital has also decided to switch off the night lights of 200 historic buildings. There are so many initiatives that some are already wondering about their limits. In Bielefeld, the authorities want to avoid kindergartens and schools that are too cold and do not want to cause uncertainty when public lighting goes out, reports the newspaper “Welt”.
Heated rooms for a harsh winter
In a scenario in which individuals would also turn off the heating, the Association of Towns and Municipalities in Germany has even proposed setting up heated rooms where the elderly and low-income people could warm up.
For example, the city of Ludwigshafen in the south-west of the country is planning to convert a former vaccination center against Covid-19 into a heated room, the media reports “Focus”. What to prepare for “all emergency scenarios,” according to the city officials, in a country where winters are generally harsh.