Germany approves rules to dim heating and lights this winter

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s public buildings will become cooler and streets darker this winter thanks to energy-saving measures approved by the cabinet on Wednesday, as part of efforts to protect the country’s gas reserves for compensate for limited deliveries from Russia.

Russian gas giant Gazprom has cut gas flows to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to 20% of capacity, citing technical issues. Berlin called the decision politically motivated, given European sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

With the new rules, the German government hopes to reduce gas consumption by around 2%.

“Overall, the measures save energy. However, not to the extent that we can sit down and say, ‘It will be fine now’,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters after the cabinet meeting in Berlin.

The measures could save private households, businesses and the public sector about 10.8 billion euros ($10.7 billion) in total over the next two years, Habeck’s ministry said.

From September 1, public buildings – with the exception of social institutions like hospitals – must be heated to a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius, and the heating could be switched off entirely in corridors and foyers.

Meanwhile, buildings and monuments will no longer be lit for purely aesthetic purposes and businesses may be banned from illuminating their storefronts at night.

A ban is also planned on the heating of private swimming pools.

The cabinet also on Wednesday approved legislation giving priority to power transmission on part of the country’s rail networks.

It follows weeks of extremely low water levels on the Rhine, which has disrupted logistics and added to Germany‘s energy headache as industry temporarily switches to more coal and oil due to the shortage of Russian energy imports.

Along with new energy-saving measures, Germany is also working to set up two liquefied natural gas terminals on the North Sea coast to help increase gas storage for the winter months. . [L8N2ZS2DI] [L1N2ZT27X]

($1 = 1.0068 euros)

(Reporting by Rachel More, Miranda Murray and Vera Eckert; Editing by Matthias Williams and Hugh Lawson)

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