For members


MAP: Which Swiss cities will be most impacted by a gas shortage this winter?

With Switzerland facing the possibility of a gas shortage this winter the government is warning people to lower their energy consumption - but certain cities are more heavily dependant on gas than others.

MAP: Which Swiss cities will be most impacted by a gas shortage this winter?
Lucerne is one of the Swiss cities that could be most affected by a gas shortage in winter (Photo by Simerpreet Cheema on Unsplash)

The government has already warned the population that due to the imminent shortage of natural gas from Russia, Swiss households should prepare to lower the heat in their homes this winter.

“We are not an island, so the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis also affect Switzerland. In this context, there is no certainty about what awaits us”, Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said.

READ ALSO: ‘It could hit us hard’: Switzerland prepares for impending gas shortage

Not all Swiss households depend on gas for heating, and a possible gas shortage would hit harder in those with large percentages of homes heated with gas.

For instance, in Solothurn, 65 percent of residential buildings depend on gas for heating. That proportion is 60 percent in Biel, 55 percent in Lucerne, 51 percent in Zurich, 47 percent in Bern, 46.2 percent in Geneva, and 43 percent in Basel.

A ‘step by step’ emergency plan

In case of shortages, the Swiss government has already stated that residents would receive preferential treatment. A first step would be requiring businesses to lower consumption and swap from gas to oil reserves.

Private apartments and houses would still be supplied if facilities such as industrial and office buildings, sports facilities, schools and administration buildings ran out of gas.

Still, homes in Switzerland need to be prepared to lower their heating. Energy suppliers in Switzerland also appeal to the people to reduce their consumption. For example, they can start by taking shorter or cooler showers or washing their clothes at 30C instead of 40C.

“The gas we save today is then available to us in winter”, Gabriela Hübscher, a spokesperson for the energy company EWL in Lucerne, said.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why you should hold off on buying electric heaters in Switzerland

Once the cold arrives, reducing the heating at home also helps, as heating your home by one degree less can reduce energy consumption by 6 percent. The energy companies also suggest people turn down the heating when leaving their houses and invest in better window sealing to increase efficiency.

Several of Switzerland’s neighbours have issued guidelines on heating for homes – although these remain voluntary – with the French and Italian governments suggesting that heating should not be turned higher than 19C. 

So far in Switzerland there is no discussion of heating limits or measures such as turning on the heating in private residences later in the season. Still, market experts warn that currently, nobody can rule out any worst-case scenarios.

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For members


How to avoid wasps this summer in Switzerland

Milder winters and springs mean we see more wasps in Switzerland this summer. Here is how to legally (and successfully) avoid them.

How to avoid wasps this summer in Switzerland

If you feel like you are never alone anymore – because there is always a pesky little wasp around – and the number of nests has grown significantly this summer, this might be the case.

As the planet gets hotter and winters and springs have milder temperatures, there are more wasps than usual buzzing around Europe this summer.

In France, pest control companies even call 2022 the “year of the wasp”, as The Local France reported.

More wasps are buzzing around – and they are angry

There is an abundance of wasps this summer even in Switzerland and they are not exceptionally good-natured right now, according to Daniel Cherix, a leading insect specialist at the University of Lausanne. The more wasps there are, the more in competition they are for food sources — which includes your outdoor barbecue food or bottle of soda.

The hot weather makes it easier for the wasps to work more hours feeding the larvae. However, the longer and harder they work, the more tired and hungrier they become.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland is abuzz with ‘tired and angry’ wasps

This means that, just like their human counterparts, they need to rest and eat, making a beeline for the nearest food source.

“If there is no prey, they have to fly longer. So they will start to get tired and angry”, Cherix said, which doesn’t bode well for the nearest available human.

This situation is expected to worsen until the autumn; until then, the wasp colonies will continue to get bigger and presumably angrier and more tired.

How can I avoid wasps?

Even though the number of wasps is rising in Switzerland, only two of the nine local wasp species are attracted by human food. Additionally, they are all peaceful as long as you don’t get too close to their nest, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment says.

The government also states several measures that can be taken to avoid wasps. It reiterates, though, that if any of these animals are nearby, it is vital to “behave calmly and not to make hectic movements that could make the wasps feel threatened”.

wasp nest bee hive

Some nests are harmless and shouldn’t be disturbed. (Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash)

Wasps can be kept away by insect screens, covering food and drinks served outside, drinking sweet drinks with a straw when outdoors, and removing and cleaning dishes and food after eating out. The Environment office also recommends removing fallen fruits under fruit trees in the garden to avoid attracting was.

People can also spray individual wasps (but never nests!) with water to get them to fly away.

READ ALSO: Swiss study says bee-harming pesticides present in 75 percent of honey worldwide

To prevent nesting, it’s important to close small openings in and around your house. Wasps like to nest in dark, shelter places, such as attics and any holes in the buildings. Recognising a nest early can help you prevent it from growing and adopt the proper measures – such as calling specialised assistance if necessary.

What to do if I find a wasp nest in my home?

There are specific rules of conduct to be followed if you find a wasp nest, especially since wasps will attack if they feel their nest threatened. Wasps stings are usually harmless unless you are allergic, but they can be painful.

A relocation could be necessary if the nest is near homes with children, allergic people or the elderly. If it is harmless or summer is close to ending, though, many specialists will advise you just to wait it out – wasps will die when it gets cold.

A specialised service needs to be hired if the nest needs to be relocated.

The last resort is to kill the nest using chemicals, but this needs to be done by specialists with federal approval to use such biocides. In some cantons, environmental protection rules forbid using chemicals without a proper license.