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The hot water taps will be turned off in public buildings as part of the measures introduced in Hanover
A hot water tap, with a towelImage: Bildagentur-online/HRI-McPhoto/picture alliance

Hanover turns off hot water with eye to winter gas shortages

Richard Connor
July 29, 2022

The German city of Hanover has laid out measures to cut gas dependency on Russia ahead of the winter period. Heating will be limited in public buildings, with no hot water and no lighting of public landmarks.

https://p.dw.com/p/4Ep7K

Officials in the central German city of Hanover have announced plans to cut energy consumption by 15% ahead of the expected gas shortage this winter.

The city has become the first major European city to switch off hot water in public buildings, with no warm water in washrooms and no hot showers at swimming pools and sports halls.

Hanover joins other German communities in seeking to limit consumption as the threat of a full or partial shutoff of gas from Russia looms over sanctions and the war in Ukraine.

What are the measures?

The city will limit the period in which public buildings are heated between October and March, with the maximum temperature generally set at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).

In storage areas and on public transport, that maximum will be between 10 and 15 degrees. Heating, more generally, will be switched off or lowered in areas where it is not strictly necessary.

Sports halls and gyms would also be asked to limit heating to 15 degrees, with no more warm water when showering.

There will be no more outdoor lighting of public buildings, museums and sights, with wider efforts to limit permanent lighting inside buildings. Public fountains will also be shut down.

EU agrees plan to use less gas

Why is Hanover doing this?

City mayor Belit Onay said Hanover, the state capital of Lower Saxony, was seeking to prepare as best it could for an unpredictable situation.

"The aim is to reduce our energy consumption by 15 percent. This is a reaction to the impending gas shortage, which poses a major challenge for the municipalities — especially for a large city like Hanover," Onay explained. "Every kilowatt hour saved protects the gas storage."

Finance and regulatory department head Axel von der Ohe said it was important to prepare and save energy in advance of an expected bottleneck in supplies.

"Right now we are on alert," he said. "Gas is scarce, but demand can still be covered. In this situation, it is important for us to save energy as a precaution even before an emergency situation arises."

Gas warfare? Gazprom announces further cuts in gas flow to EU

What's happening elsewhere?

In the Bavarian city of Augsburg, the council had lowered the temperature in its public pools and is also seeking to limit heating in public buildings

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities says scaling back street lighting is also one of the measures that local authorities are considering.

Officials in the city of Mainz and Weimar have already introduced such measures, switching off lights in certain areas and at specific times.

Berlin's Senate announced on Wednesday that it would turn down heating in some 200  public buildings and that a number of landmarks would no longer be illuminated. These include Berlin Cathedral, the Red City Hall and the Berlin Victory Column.

Meanwhile, an internal affairs council in Germany's lower legislative house, the Bundestag, earlier this month adopted a plan for saving energy if necessary, including heating rooms less in winter.

State parliaments, including those of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, have also announced measures to cut heating requirements.

Edited by: Kieran Burke

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