Random checks, fines and cold showers: Swiss energy crisis plan explained
At a press conference on November 16, the Swiss Federal Council announced that a ban on heating houses over 20 degrees celsius will be imposed, if the threat of energy shortages becomes a reality. While the government said an energy crisis in Switzerland is unlikely this winter, it added that the situation was still precarious and it was important to “be careful.”
Switzerland's power supply still at the mercy of global events
Speaking to reporters, Minister for Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin announced a new raft of measures that will be implemented if there is ever an energy shortage in Switzerland. “The aim is for the population and the economy to get an idea of what they could face in the event of a gas shortage. You can prepare for it that way,” he said.
While he acknowledged that an energy crisis was unlikely in Switzerland this winter, the weather and fluctuating events abroad like the war in Ukraine could change the situation quickly and dramatically. Therefore, he said the government had to prepare for a worst-case scenario - where its energy-saving plan proves ineffective and global events take a turn for the worse. "We have to be flexible," he noted.
Private households in Switzerland would have heating restricted
In the event of a power or gas shortage, the government said public and private buildings (including housing) would only be heated to a maximum of 20 degrees. "It's not the goal that police officers have to go from apartment to apartment with a thermometer," Parmelin noted. However, he did confirm the police will be given the power to carry out random temperature checks at homes and businesses across the country, in a system that will be planned and controlled by Swiss cantons.
When asked why the government would check and fine households, Parmelin explained that private accommodation accounts for 40 percent of total gas consumption and that it would be impossible to cut consumption and avoid blackouts without asking residents to do more. Houses that use heating oil would be unaffected.
Residents who heat houses above 20 degrees risk fine from Swiss police
The minister said he hoped people would use their “personal responsibility” to enforce the rule, arguing that it is easy to follow, not as harsh as the 19-degree rule that was proposed in their first shortage plan, and would help families save money as energy prices rise. However, he did say that fines would be issued if a house was found to be breaking the rules.
In addition, the heating of unused or unoccupied spaces, swimming pools, steam baths, and saunas would also be banned in the event of a severe shortage. Showers would also get colder, as the heating of water - as measured at the boiler - would also be restricted to 60 degrees. The operation of radiant heaters, heated curtains, gas fires and high-pressure washers would also be subject to a fine.
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