Switzerland plans to tighten the belt on citizens and energy supply companies this winter who fail to comply with proposed rules to regulate the use of gas this winter. The new rules are aimed at bringing relief in the ongoing energy crisis that the country faces.
Under the new measures as stated in the Federal Law on National Economic Supply, and Federal Department of Economic Affairs, temperatures in buildings with gas heating systems can be raised to a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius and water can be heated up to 60 degrees Celsius. The use of radiating heaters are prohibited, and swimming pools as well as saunas must remain cold. The new rules also include sanctions for utility companies who willfully exceed their gas quotas.
Violators could be fined between 30 and 3,000 Swiss Francs per day announced Markus Sporndli, a spokesperson for the Federal Department of Finance, or even imprisoned for up to three years. Criticism is already emerging as many argue that these punitive measures would keep the courts busy and implementation of the new rules could be challenging and costly to enforce. Imposing an administrative fine could be a less invasive approach.
On 18 May 2022 the Swiss government unveiled a voluntary gas savings target of 15% to reduced the average energy consumption by 15% from October 2022 to the end of March 2023. This is on trend with the European Union, which set the same target in April this year to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia due to the ongoing reprisal by Russia, which could lead to widespread gas shortages with catastrophic consequences across the European Union. Should the voluntary suggestions fail to materialize, the country plans to put the mandatory rationing measures in place. The country’s individual cantons had up to 22 September 2022 to file their submissions and the outcome thereof has not been announced. Meanwhile, much of Europe and the UK who also face the energy crisis are also taking action. Liz Truss, the new Prime Minister of Britain has vowed to subsidize consumers’ energy bills, and France’s Emmanuel Macron promised to freeze the price of gas and cap electricity price increases to a maximum of 4%.
Government has urged households, the industrial sector, services sector and public institutions to turn down the thermostat. Reducing the thermostat by one degree centigrade saves 5% to 6% of energy, according to the government. Government also encouraged switching of dual-fuel installations from gas to oil as switching could result in a saving of up to 20% of total consumption. But this strategy run the risks of incurring additional CO2 taxes. Therefore, the Swiss government is making necessary adjustments to the relevant ordinances which are based on the Landesversorgungsgesetz (The National Economic Supply Act (NESA)), thereby ensuring a smooth transition. Full details on the ordinance can her read here.
Simple ways to reduce your energy consumption include unplugging unused appliances such as computers and battery charges, reducing the thermostat by one degree Celsius, draught-proofing windows and doors, switching off unused lights, taking a shorter shower than a bath, avoid the use of tumble driers and doing washing outside of peak times.
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photography-of-stove-fire-195029/