Spain Restricts Use of Air Conditioning in Public Places

The move comes as the European Union tries to limit its dependency on Russian oil and gas

air conditioning units on Madrid apartment buildings
The measures come in the middle of a particularly hot European summer. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Spain announced last week that public places such as shopping malls, theaters, train stations and airports must set air conditioners at or above 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 degrees Fahrenheit) starting Tuesday, and private homes are recommended but not required to do the same.

The measure is one of several aimed at reducing the use of energy, and specifically Russian oil and gas, reports the Guardian’s Sam Jones.

Stores will also need to keep doors closed and turn lights off in windows after 10 p.m., and public places will be required to keep heaters at or below 19 degrees Celsius (66.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter, according to CBS News.

Last week, the official state gazette stated that the decree “lays out a series of measures to save energy and use it more efficiently, which are urgent and necessary when it comes to reducing energy consumption in general, and reducing our dependence on energy outside the Spanish economy,” per the Guardian.

The measures come in the middle of a particularly hot European summer that has increased energy demands, notes The Verge’s Jennifer Pattison Tuohy. During a heat wave in July, more than 1,000 heat-related deaths were recorded in Spain and Portugal. Wildfires spread across Europe, leading to thousands of people having to evacuate their homes. And temperatures in Pamplona, Spain, eclipsed 108 degrees Fahrenheit.

Per CBS News, the recent restrictions are also in response to a recent European Union decision to decrease dependency on Russian gas. In a story for the Associated Press on July 21, Joseph Wilson wrote that in response to concerns that Russia might cut off its supply of gas to Europe this winter, the E.U. called for a 15 percent reduction in gas use. Spain and Portugal spoke out against the initiative, saying that they were less reliant on Russian gas than other E.U. nations. Spain will aim to reduce gas use by 7 to 8 percent, according to the Guardian.

Russia is already decreasing gas flow to Europe in response to sanctions for invading Ukraine, writes Sophia Ankel for Business Insider.

Other countries across Europe have made efforts to limit fuel consumption to decrease reliance on Russian resources, according to a report last month in the Guardian. Italy and Greece will similarly limit the use of public air conditioners in the summer. Air-conditioned stores in France will have to keep their doors closed and reduce lighting. Municipal buildings in the German city of Hanover will only be heated between October and March at a maximum of 68 degrees.

Spain’s recently announced restrictions will stay in place until at least November 2023, per CBS News.