Germany's largest landlord to restrict heating at night

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 7 Jul, 2022 Updated Thu 7 Jul 2022 13:16 CEST
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A thermostat on a radiator. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez

Vonovia, one of Germany's largest landlords, wants to save energy by lowering the heat in tenants' buildings overnight.

When the heating season starts in autumn, tenants will only be able to turn up their radiators to 17C between 11pm and 6am at night, the company announced on Thursday. 

It said the move was intended to save energy and gas use during the current crisis. 

According to Vonovia, the change won't affect temperatures during the daytime and access to hot water also won't be affected, meaning tenants can wash and shower as usual.

The changes to the heating system will be carried out during routine maintenance ahead of the colder months. It is estimated that heating costs will drop by around eight percent once the change comes into force.

READ ALSO: When does your landlord in Germany have to turn on the heating?

Vonovia's announcement comes after it emerged that a housing co-op in Saxony had taken drastic steps to minimise energy use in its buildings - including turning off the hot water for several hours a day.

The move means tenants of Dippoldiswalde Housing Cooperative can only take warm showers in the early mornings and late afternoons on the weekdays. The heating systems are also set to remain off until September. 

READ ALSO: German housing co-op slammed for restricting access to tenants’ hot water

Minimum temperature laws

In recent weeks, the Federal Network Agency has also been advocating a change in the legal minimum temperatures for tenants.

Speaking to the Rheinische Post in mid-June, Klaus Müller said tenants should be put under greater pressure to contribute to attempts to save energy ahead of winter. 

“In tenancy law, there are specifications according to which the landlord must set the heating system so that a minimum temperature of between 20C and 22C is achieved,” he said. “The state could temporarily lower the specifications for landlords. We are discussing this with politicians.”

The legal minimum temperature is currently set at 16-17C in the nighttime and 20-22C during the day. 

READ ALSO: German energy crisis: Call for reduction in minimum temperatures for tenants

As Germany races to secures it energy supply over winter, Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has set strict legal targets for filling the gas storage facilities.

Currently, just 40 percent of the usual gas deliveries are flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia into Germany. 

So far, Habeck has focussed his attention on campaigns to encourage both businesses and households to save energy.

However, it's possible that caps on energy usage or other legal mechanisms - such as the reduction of temperatures in tenanted buildings - may be used if the situation continues to worsen. 

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