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READER QUESTION: What are the rules on heating my Swiss home this winter?

While the summer months provided enough (and even too much) heat, the situation is likely to be quite different in the winter, when energy-saving measures will be in place in Switzerland.

READER QUESTION: What are the rules on heating my Swiss home this winter?
Temperatures will have to be lowered this winter. Photo: Pixabay

Swiss authorities announced on August 24th that they would align themselves with European Union in its goal to reduce gas consumption by 15 percent during the winter months — October to the end of March — compared with average annual consumption.

As soon as there is a real risk of shortage, “calls to reduce consumption will be made”, the Federal Council said.

Initially, the government is issuing recommendations rather than mandates, but it will consider “various options of consumption restrictions, bans, and quota systems” to be implemented in case of need.

READ MORE: Switzerland aims to cut gas consumption by 15 percent

How warm / cold should your dwelling be between October and March?

According to the Swiss Tenants Association (ASLOCA), a home must be “sufficiently heated”, that is to say, maintain a temperature of between 20C and 21C. 

While the Federal Council will issue official recommendations shortly, the general consensus among experts is that by lowering the indoor temperature to 19C, you could reduce your consumption by 5 to 6 percent.

In ‘normal times’ — that is, when energy shortage is not looming — landlords can’t cut your electricity too much. In fact, tenants are entitled to a reduction in rent if the minimum temperature (20C – 21C) is permanently lower by three to five degrees.

Whether or not the Federal Council will deviate from this rule in the event of energy shortage remains to be seen.

What happens if you don’t comply with the temperature rules?

Authorities are hoping that everyone will follow the recommendations (or mandates, as the case may be) voluntarily, for the common good.

“It would be extremely difficult to impose this measure in private homes”, MP Christian Imark, who is also an energy expert, told Watson new portal in an interview.

“It is difficult to imagine that police officers with a thermometer would come and hand out fines if the temperature is one degree too high in the apartment”, he said.

The approach would be the same as practised during Covid, when restrictions were in place concerning the number of people allowed to get together in private.

Health Minister Alain Berset said at the time that police would not be making rounds of private houses to make sure everyone complied with the ruling.

The goal, according to Economy Minister Guy Parmelin, is “not to create a police state”.

However, “if someone is breaking the rules, they will be reported by the neighbours. We won’t have to send in police,” he added.

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REVEALED: Are these the ‘best’ places to live in Switzerland?

German-speaking cities dominate the list in a new quality of life in Switzerland study - here are the best places to live in the Alpine country.

REVEALED: Are these the 'best' places to live in Switzerland?

Zurich, Geneva, Basel are all beautiful cities with plenty of offers for their residents, but which would top the list of the best place to live in Switzerland? Turn out, none of them.

A new quality of life study commissioned by the daily newspaper Handelszeitung looked into several criteria to determine the best places in the country. The Gemeinderatings 2022 evaluated 944 municipalities with more than 2,000 inhabitants to make the ranking.

READ ALSO: Health, prices, and safety: Is Switzerland a good country to retire in?

Among the criteria to determine how attractive each area is, they looked into taxation issues, how safe the cities are, how many jobs are available, the quality of the real estate market (both when buying and renting properties) and the level of support for elderly residents.

Additionally, Handelszeitung looked into matters such as the availability of leisure offers, access to public transportation, and sustainability factors as well.

These are the top ten places to live in Switzerland:

  1. Cham, Canton Zug
  2. Zug, Canton Zug
  3. Risch, Canton Zug
  4. Altendorf, Canton Schwyz
  5. Walchwil, Canton Zug
  6. Meggen, Canton Lucerne
  7. Meilen, Canton Zurich
  8. Hergiswil, Canton Nidwalden
  9. Hünenberg, Canton Zug
  10. Baar, Canton Zug

German-speaking Switzerland dominates the list

The best city, Cham, did exceptionally well in the criteria of taxes (reaching the fifth spot) and real estate (11th in the ranking for this criteria). The neighbouring city of Zug secured second place, followed by Risch, all in the same canton.

Switzerland’s French or Italian-speaking areas have certainly not fared well, and all the country’s top ten cities are in German-speaking cantons. Moreover, Canton Zug gets an impressive number of six towns (and the top 3) in the best 10.

READ ALSO: MAP: The best cantons for business in Switzerland

The first French-speaking city in Switzerland to show up in the ranking comes only in 63rd place: Pregny-Chambésy, in the canton of Geneva. Then, Saint-Sulpice (VD) follows in 69th place, Carouge (GE) in 73rd, and Lutry (VD) in 95th).

Italian-speaking Switzerland does even worse: it only appears in 90th place with Collina d’Oro.