Lights off, heat down: central Europe governments save power to set example


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PRAGUE, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Turning off lights, lowering thermostats and installing occupancy sensors are among the ways central European governments have started to save energy as part of efforts to cut costs and congestion in the next heating season to address gas cuts supplies from Russia.

Central Europe is vulnerable to the standoff with Russia as some countries are still dependent on Russian gas and everyone across the continent faces soaring electricity prices.

The Czech government announced on Thursday that it would unscrew half of the lightbulbs in the government office and replace the remaining old lightbulbs with less-consuming LED sources. It installed motion sensors to dim lighting in corridors and turn off festive floodlights of Prague’s 19th-century downtown building.

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Heating – usually around 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 F) or even warmer in Czech offices – will be lowered to 19-20 C in the government building, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said, and to 15 C (59 F) in the corridors.

“I will mainly pressure state institutions to lead by example,” Fiala told reporters. “We have adopted a package of measures to save between 17% and 20% of the necessary energy,” he said.

The President’s Office said it would lower the heating and turn off the floodlights on the famous Prague Castle and its cathedral at 10 p.m. instead of midnight, while the Industry Ministry, among other things, reduced the number of refrigerators used.

In Hungary, the government has ordered state institutions and companies to reduce gas consumption by 25% compared to last year, with the exception of hospitals and social institutions.

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The lights will also go out in Romania’s Palace of Parliament, the second tallest building in the world after the US Pentagon, the parliament said earlier this month. Outdoor lighting will be reduced by half and festive lighting will be reduced to two hours per night.

The Polish government has instructed its various branches to reduce electricity consumption by 10%.

After work, officials have to turn off their computers and disconnect chargers, and they can only print necessary documents. At the Treasury, the fountain was turned off and the building’s lighting was limited to just two hours at weekends.

In addition, Warsaw is replacing around 38,000 light bulbs in street lamps with LEDs.

These savings and various national cost caps and other incentives may still not be enough in locations where heating or cooling is a large part of the operation, such as B. Universities or sports fields.

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Slovak universities have warned they will move to online training if the government doesn’t provide more funding by mid-November.

In the Czech Republic, a survey of more than 500 sports clubs found that 61% of those using indoor venues such as swimming pools, ice rinks, gyms or inflatable halls face an “existential threat” as their energy bills have already increased by 135% .

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Reporting by Jan Lopatka in Prague, Luiza Iliu in Bucharest, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Anna Koper and Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw, Krizstina Than in Budapest; Edited by Bill Berkrot

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