Energy For Members

Reader question: When should I turn on my heating in Switzerland this year?

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected]
Reader question: When should I turn on my heating in Switzerland this year?
19C is a good, energy-saving temperature. Photo by Arthur Lambillotte on Unsplash

Energy costs in Switzerland are set to reach sky-high levels this winter, which will leave many people wondering when they should start heating their homes.


The government has recently announced that “Swiss electricity prices will rise sharply for households in 2023”.

It added that “a typical household will pay 26.95 centimes per kilowatt hour, which corresponds to an increase of 27 percent. However, the differences can be much greater at the local level”.

READ MORE: Swiss government confirms ‘sharp increase’ in electricity prices

However, higher prices and the threat of energy shortage don't eliminate the need to heat our homes during the coldest months of the year.

So when should you start heating?

While this wasn’t a concern during the summer heatwave — when most people were trying to find ways to cool off, not to get warmer — it is an issue now that the weather has gotten colder in much of Switzerland.


When you can start turning on the heat depends on whether you are a tenant or a homeowner.

In the former case, you pretty much depend on your landlord.

The usual heating season in Switzerland, according to Homegate real estate plarform, runs from mid-September to mid-May, which means it is currently underway.

However, “as soon as the outside temperature drops below 14C, landlords are required to switch on the heating", even if this happens before September 15th and after mid-May.

If, on the other hand, you own your home or apartment, you obviously have more leeway in terms of when you start and stop to heat your dwelling.

Generally speaking, the September-to-May rule carries some flexibility too. For instance, if you live in Ticino, temperatures may not drop below 14C until the end of autumn, so you may not need to heat your place as early as someone in, say, in the village of La Brévine near Neuchâtel, which is the coldest commune in the country.

What should you do if your landlord doesn’t turn on the heat on time?

According to Swiss Tenants Association (ASLOCA), you should complain to your landlord by a registered letter.

In the meantime, and for as long as there is no heat, you are entitled to request (and obtain) a reduction in rent to go into effect from the moment the landlord is notified of the situation.

At what temperature should your apartment or house be this winter?

With the country bracing for energy shortages, including possible blackouts, the government has recently issued recommendations about electricity-cutting measures — including those related to 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 on September 1st, as it launched a national campaign under the slogan “Energy is limited. Let’s not waste it”.

READ MORE: What the Swiss government is asking you to do to save energy

Also, the above temperatures generally apply from 7 am to 11 pm; the heating can be lowered at night to reduce fuel consumption.

The general consensus among experts, however, is that by lowering the indoor temperature to 19C, you could reduce your consumption (and bills) by 5 to 6 percent.


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

Authorities are hoping that everyone will follow the recommendations voluntarily, for the common good.

But what if you turn on your heat earlier and keep it higher than recommended?

Likely nothing, but your social consciousness may suffer.

Despite a fake poster that urges people to snitch on the neighbours who overheat their homes, “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”, MP Christian Imark pointed out.

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

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


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