For members


What the Swiss government is asking you to do to save energy

The Federal Council has unveiled its plan aimed at preventing energy shortages during the cold season. Each person, household and company in Switzerland can contribute to this goal, the government says.

What the Swiss government is asking you to do to save energy
Brief, cool showers are one of the energy saving measures the government recommends. Photo: Pixabay

The Federal Council already said that it would cut energy consumption by 15 percent to avoid gas shortages which are threatening to impact Switzerland, and other European countries, in the winter.

“Calls to reduce consumption will be made to all consumers”, officials said.

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

On Wednesday, authorities did just that: they launched a campaign to “ensure that Switzerland can quickly boost its energy supply in preparation for winter”.

Appropriately named “Energy is limited. Let’s not waste it”, the campaign outlines several simple measures that can, if everyone follows them, stave off shortages and prevent power outages and blackouts.

“It shows how people can save energy with easy-to-implement recommendations”, the Federal Council said. “The objective is to encourage the widest possible participation, so that Switzerland does not find itself in a shortage situation”.

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

This is what you can do to help save energy in your home:

Lower the heating

“The room temperature should never exceed 20C. By reducing it by 1C, you save up to 10 percent of heating energy”, the government said.

Cover the pot while cooking

“During cooking, a large part of the energy evaporates. Always place a lid on the pan to hold it. Plus, it speeds up the cooking process”.

Turn off lights

“A light on in an empty room wastes energy unnecessarily. Turn off lights when leaving a room”.

Switch off electronic equipment

“Computers, TVs and coffee machines consume energy even when they are in standby or sleep mode. So always switch off these devices completely”.

Take a shower rather than bath

“By taking only short, not too hot showers, you save a lot of hot water. A temperature of 37C is ideal for the body and for saving energy”.

Other energy-saving tips from the government include lowering the thermostat when leaving the house, wearing warmer clothes indoors, using cold rather than hot water whenever possible, using electrical kettle rather than boiling water in a pot, and washing clothes at low temperatures.

More tips can be found here in German, French, and Italian.

All of the above are recommendations at this point, but if the situation on the energy front deteriorates or shortages would occur, the Federal Council could implement “consumption restrictions, bans, and quota systems”.

How will authorities know whether you are complying with these recommendations?

Most likely they won’t.

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

European governments are announcing emergency measures on a near-weekly basis to protect households and businesses from the energy crisis stemming from Russia's war in Ukraine.

How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

Hundreds of billions of euros and counting have been shelled out since Russia invaded its pro-EU neighbour in late February.

Governments have gone all out: from capping gas and electricity prices to rescuing struggling energy companies and providing direct aid to households to fill up their cars.

The public spending has continued, even though European Union countries had accumulated mountains of new debt to save their economies during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

But some leaders have taken pride at their use of the public purse to battle this new crisis, which has sent inflation soaring, raised the cost of living and sparked fears of recession.

After announcing €14billion in new measures last week, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi boasted the latest spending put Italy, “among the countries that have spent the most in Europe”.

The Bruegel institute, a Brussels-based think tank that is tracking energy crisis spending by EU governments, ranks Italy as the second-biggest spender in Europe, after Germany.

READ ALSO How EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

Rome has allocated €59.2billion since September 2021 to shield households and businesses from the rising energy prices, accounting for 3.3 percent of its gross domestic product.

Germany tops the list with €100.2billion, or 2.8 percent of its GDP, as the country was hit hard by its reliance on Russian gas supplies, which have dwindled in suspected retaliation over Western sanctions against Moscow for the war.

On Wednesday, Germany announced the nationalisation of troubled gas giant Uniper.

France, which shielded consumers from gas and electricity price rises early, ranks third with €53.6billion euros allocated so far, representing 2.2 percent of its GDP.

Spending to continue rising
EU countries have now put up €314billion so far since September 2021, according to Bruegel.

“This number is set to increase as energy prices remain elevated,” Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at Bruegel, told AFP.

The energy bills of a typical European family could reach €500 per month early next year, compared to €160 in 2021, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The measures to help consumers have ranged from a special tax on excess profits in Italy, to the energy price freeze in France, and subsidies public transport in Germany.

But the spending follows a pandemic response that increased public debt, which in the first quarter accounted for 189 percent of Greece’s GDP, 153 percent in Italy, 127 percent in Portugal, 118 percent in Spain and 114 percent in France.

“Initially designed as a temporary response to what was supposed to be a temporary problem, these measures have ballooned and become structural,” Tagliapietra said.

“This is clearly not sustainable from a public finance perspective. It is important that governments make an effort to focus this action on the most vulnerable households and businesses as much as possible.”

Budget reform
The higher spending comes as borrowing costs are rising. The European Central Bank hiked its rate for the first time in more than a decade in July to combat runaway inflation, which has been fuelled by soaring energy prices.

The yield on 10-year French sovereign bonds reached an eight-year high of 2.5 percent on Tuesday, while Germany now pays 1.8 percent interest after boasting a negative rate at the start of the year.

The rate charged to Italy has quadrupled from one percent earlier this year to four percent now, reviving the spectre of the debt crisis that threatened the eurozone a decade ago.

“It is critical to avoid debt crises that could have large destabilising effects and put the EU itself at risk,” the International Monetary Fund warned in a recent blog calling for reforms to budget rules.

The EU has suspended until 2023 rules that limit the public deficit of countries to three percent of GDP and debt to 60 percent.

The European Commission plans to present next month proposals to reform the 27-nation bloc’s budget rules, which have been shattered by the crises.