Two Swiss border regions on Tuesday urged France to shut down its Fessenheim nuclear plant, saying that it required intensive checks following Japan's crisis.

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ENERGY

‘Close French nuclear plant’ – Swiss cantons

Two Swiss border regions on Tuesday urged France to shut down its Fessenheim nuclear plant, saying that it required intensive checks following Japan's crisis.

'Close French nuclear plant' - Swiss cantons
nagadoudi/Régis (Flickr)

“The governments of cantons Basel Countryside and Basel City call on the French authorities and (French energy giant) EDF to switch off and immediately shut down the Fessenheim nuclear power plant until it undergoes an intensive check that takes into account the events in Japan,” they said in a joint statement.

The cantons said they had in past years raised questions about the risks surrounding the power plant located 35 kilometres (20 miles) north of Basel.

“The current, serious nuclear accident in Japan reinforces our opinion that the Fessenheim nuclear power plant poses a serious threat for the populations in the region,” they added.

Built in 1977-78, Fessenheim is France’s oldest nuclear plant that is still in operation, said the cantons, pointing out that the reactor also lies in a quake-prone area.

The cantons said they planned to lodge their request with Alsace’s regional government on April 1.

The crisis surrounding Japan’s Fukushima No.1 power plant, which was damaged during a powerful earthquake, has prompted several governments to monitor their nuclear reactors.

Following the crisis, the government suspended plans to replace its ageing nuclear power plants amid fears of a nuclear disaster.

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ENERGY

How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?

Like almost everything else in Switzerland, the price of electricity is high here. These are some strategies for reducing your energy costs.

There are several strategies to lower energy costs in Switzerland.
Installing solar panels on the roof could save on energy costs in the long term, but there are other ways as well to reduce bills. Photo by Vivint Solar from Pexels

If you are a tenant, your energy consumption costs may be included in your rent. But if you are a home or apartment owner, you have to pay these charges yourself. And they can be quite expensive.

Depending on the kind and size of dwelling you live in, your energy bills could add up to several thousand francs each year.

And winters in Switzerland can get quite cold, with temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees in some parts of the country on certain years.

READ MORE: Switzerland weather: Snow and rain forecast in various regions

So unless you are lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace which radiates heat throughout your house, sitting under the blanket and drinking hot cocoa may not be enough to keep you warm on those chilly winter days — though it does sound very cosy.

Most people will probably crank up their heat, and as many Swiss households use electric power for heat, that may get quite expensive.

In fact, a household in Switzerland spends on average between a half and full monthly salary on its energy consumption each year, according to a price comparison site bonus.ch.

However, “with small, simple actions to perform on a daily basis, it is possible to reduce energy consumption and save money, without sacrificing comfort”.Bonus.ch said.

Here are some common-sense energy-saving measures the site outlines to keep electricity bills down: 

  • Use heat in moderation, setting the temperature according to the size of the room and how often it is being used. Unoccupied rooms should not be heated at all.
  • Turn off the light when leaving a room (this advice is logical and reasonable, and yet many people neglect to do so).
  • Shut down electrical appliances such as TV and computers completely when not in use,  or even unplug them altogether.
  • Use appliances with the energy label “A”, LED lamps and energy-saving bulbs, avoiding devices with high energy consumption, such as aquariums and fan heaters.
  • In terms of water consumption, typically a resident of Switzerland uses a little more than 160 litres of water daily, of which around one-third is hot, according to bonus.ch.

To reduce hot water consumption, take (quick) showers rather than baths, use water-saving shower heads, and keep its temperature at no more than 50 degrees Celsius.

What about solar panels?

Solar panels are expensive upfront; the actual cost is determined by the size of your house and roof, as well as subsidies you can get from the government. However, it is likely to save you money in the long term.

Just how much will depend on several factors, including how large / small your house is and what your energy needs and consumption are.

You can see whether this option would be economically beneficial to you by using a calculator on this platform for homeowners in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Cost of living: The most – and least – expensive cantons in Switzerland

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