Germany to turn thermostat down as gas shortage looms

Germany will limit heating in public buildings over the winter to save on gas as Russia throttles supplies to Europe, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Friday.

A person adjusts a thermostat to 19C. Germany will turn the temperature down in public buildings due to the gas crisis.
A person adjusts a thermostat to 19C. Germany will turn the temperature down in public buildings due to the gas crisis. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Franziska Gabbert

“Public properties – with the exception of hospitals and other parts of the social system, of course – will only be heated to 19C,” Habeck told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview.

Public buildings and monuments will also not be lit at night, a measure already taken individually by some cities, as Germany searches for ways to save energy.

READ ALSO: Cold showers to turning off lights: How German cities are saving energy

The recent reduction of gas supplies from Russia, amid tensions over the invasion of Ukraine, has forced the government to act.

Europe’s largest economy, which relies heavily on gas to heat homes and power industry, is trying to wean itself off Russian imports, while avoiding shortages over the winter.

The government has mandated gas storage facilities to be filled almost fully by December and restarted mothballed coal-power plants to take the strain off gas-fired units.

A public information drive has been launched and the government has also subsidised public transport over the summer.

Among the other measures decided in July was a move to ban the heating of private pools with gas.

Habeck, who has said he personally is taking shorter showers to save hot water, said that “more energy savings are needed in the world of work, too.”

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Germany policing sea with ‘all available forces’ after pipeline blasts: minister

German police were patrolling the North and Baltic Seas with "all available forces" following explosions at the underwater Nord Stream pipelines from Russia, its interior minister said Friday.

Germany policing sea with 'all available forces' after pipeline blasts: minister

“We take the current threats seriously and are protecting ourselves,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, amid suggestions the incident was the result of sabotage.

Police units, including helicopters, ships maritime special forces, had “special capabilities to intervene in dangerous situations”, Faeser said.

The Nord Stream pipelines, halted since the end of August, were key arteries for the delivery of natural gas directly from Russia to Germany.

The source of the explosions has remained a mystery, however, with both Washington and Moscow denying responsibility.

Germany would “support the joint investigation” of the incident with Denmark and Sweden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told his counterparts from both countries in a video call Friday.

All indications pointed towards a “deliberate act of sabotage”, according to a readout of Scholz’s calls with the two leaders, as well as the Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

Together with partners in the European Union and NATO, Germany would “strengthen preparedness and protection against sabotage for critical infrastructure”, the readout said.

Norway, which has become Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, said earlier Friday it had accepted military contributions from France, Germany and Britain to secure its oil and gas sector.