The details were explained by the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera. / PHOTO: EFE / VIDEO: ATLAS

Lights off at 10pm for shop windows and monuments in Spain as part of government's energy saving plan

The proposals also includes limits on air conditioning and central heating temperatures in business premises, and anyone who fails to comply with the energy efficiency measures could be fined

L. PALACIOS / C. ALBA Madrid

“The situation is critical and the supply of Russian gas could be cut off at any moment,” said the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, on Monday evening, when the government presented its new energy saving plan which aims to reduce consumption by 7% as recommended by Brussels but which will not apply in the workplace.

At the press conference following approval of the plan, Ribera made it clear that “it was essential to bring this first package of saving and efficiency measures into force before September”. She stressed that anyone who fails to comply will be fined, and it is down to the regional governments to enforce the rules.

The government also intends to announce a new contingency plan in September, but the minister insisted that nobody is going to be cold this winter, although the authorities are calling on people to do what they can voluntarily to reduce their own energy consumption.

Temperature limits

One important point in the energy saving plan is a limit on the temperature in public buildings. Air conditioning must not be lower than 27C in the summer and heating no higher than 19C in winter, at least until November 2023. Ribera said this measure is estimated to reduce electricity consumption by around 7%.

These temperature limits will also apply to cultural venues, hotels, cinemas, train and bus stations, airports and large stores, but not offices in general. The minister said thermometers will be installed to monitor compliance with the measure.

Lights out at 10pm

Shops will have to turn their window lights off at 10pm, as they do in France and Germany, and this will also apply to public buildings which are not in use and illumination on buildings and monuments. This measure will become mandatory seven days after the new regulation has been published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) and will continue until 1 November next year.

Keep the doors closed

Business premises will have to keep their doors closed whenever the air conditioning or heating is in use, another measure which is already in force in France. But in this case there will be a two-month period of grace for implementation, so every building must have a door-closure system in place by 30 September.

More working from home

The new law also encourages working from home where possible and Teresa Ribera urged companies to enable staff to do so as this will cut down on travel and save energy in public buildings. “We were capable of doing this during the pandemic and we have learned a great deal since then,” she said.

Boilers and building inspections

Buildings whose last energy efficiency inspection took place before 1 January 2021 will have to be re-inspected before 31 December this year. Hot water and central heating boilers must also undergo an inspection if this has not been carried out since 1 January 2021.