What Are Other Countries Doing To Save Energy This Winter?

The UK is an outlier in not encouraging people to ration their energy over the coming months.
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The threat of blackouts in Britain has long been a fear that could turn to a reality this winter.

On Thursday the National Grid, which distributes power across the country, warned that households could be hit by rolling three-hour blackouts if gas supplies run to dangerously low levels.

The warning has been issued as the war against Ukraine limps on and Russia continues to punish Europe for standing against the invasion by limiting its gas supplies.

While the National Grid has stressed that a blackout scenario is “unlikely”, it has not ruled it out entirely.

“In the unlikely event we were in this situation, it would mean that some customers could be without power for pre-defined periods during a day – generally this is assumed to be for three-hour blocks,” it warned.

The alarming situation has prompted other countries to take steps to reduce energy consumption to conserve supplies.

But in the UK, Liz Truss has reportedly blocked a public information campaign to encourage people to use less energy, arguing that guidance was already available and people should decide for themselves how much energy they use.

Here HuffPost UK looks at how the UK’s approach stands in contrast to that taken by other countries.

Why has the UK said no to a public information campaign?

According to the Times, business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg backed a £15 million campaign to encourage people to use less energy this winter, but it has been rejected by No.10.

The campaign, described as “light touch”, included measures to help people save £300 a year by lowering the temperature of boilers, turning off radiators in rooms that aren’t being used and advising people to switch the heating off when they are not at home.

However, Truss — who ruled out energy rationing in her leadership campaign, is said to be “ideologically opposed” to such a campaign in the belief it would be “too interventionist”.

It was a theme touched on during her speech at Tory party conference, in which she said: “I’m not going to tell you what to do, or what to think or how to live your life.”

The prime minister sought to downplay concerns of blackouts on her recent trip to Prague to discuss the energy crisis with other European leaders, arguing that the UK did have a good supply of energy in the UK because it is less reliant on Russian gas than its European counterparts.

However, she stopped short of explicitly offering a guarantee of no blackouts.

And a government spokesman said: “The UK has a secure and diverse energy system.

“We have plans to protect households and businesses in the full range of scenarios this winter, in light of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

“To strengthen this position further, we have put plans in place to secure supply and National Grid, working alongside energy suppliers and Ofgem, will launch a voluntary service to reward users who reduce demand at peak times.

“We will continue to work internationally on tackling rising energy prices and ensuring security of supply, but there are no current plans to follow the EU’s decision.

“However, ministers are not launching a public information campaign and any claim otherwise is untrue.”

What are other countries doing?

Other European countries have taken a much more proactive stance to the energy crisis.

France launched an “energy sobriety” in mid July that recommends that homes and offices are heated to a maximum temperature of 19 degrees, that there is no hot water in public buildings.

It wants to ban lit advertising overnight and says doors should not be left open in heated or air-conditioned shops. Temperatures in swimming pools and gyms should be reduced and working from home has also been encouraged.

In Germany, new rules on conserving energy have come into force and are due to last for six months.

Public buildings, with the exception of hospitals schools and nurseries, have been told to have their heating on at 19 degrees maximum, while it should be turned off completely in entrances, corridors and foyers.

Illuminated advertising must be switched off after 10pm except for those providing safety, while buildings and monuments can no longer be lit at night.

Shops have been told not to keep their doors open throughout the day to reduce the need for air conditioning. Hot water should be cut for hand washing.

Measures have also been taken in Spain to cut back on energy.

Heating should be set to a maximum of 19 degrees. From 10pm, shops must switch off lighting in display windows and public buildings should no longer be illuminated after this time,

Air conditioned or heated buildings must have an automatic lock on doors so energy does not escape.

The government in Italy has asked people to turn their heating down by one degree and turn it off for one hour a day.

In Finland, people have been asked to take shorter showers of five minutes, turn heating down by one degree and cut their use of electronic devices this winter, while in Denmark, people have also been told to take shorter showers and to dry their clothes outside.


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