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Energy crisis: Don’t shiver from colder houses and warmer clothes

Cold shower anyone? Hot water has been turned off in some German entertainment centres. In Spain, energy-saving measures are starting to take effect. Offices, bars and shops are prohibited from setting temperatures below 27 degrees Celsius in summer or above 19 degrees Celsius in winter.

The temperature restrictions reflect the severity of Europe’s energy shortages. Rising prices are also limiting consumption. IMF this week Debate which most people need to adjust to the energy shock by reducing usage. The government should protect only the poorest households.

Spain has set a benchmark for other countries with a winter maximum of 19C. According to the International Energy Agency, the average heating temperature of homes in the EU is more than 22°C. It notes that 1C cooler typically reduces energy bills by 7%.

Not startled. People used to live in much colder houses. In the four decades since 1970, the average temperature inside a UK home has nearly halved from 12°C to 17.6°C.

That partly reflects a more uniform heat distribution. The spread of central heating – from just a quarter of homes in the UK in 1970 to more than 90% in 2012 – means more rooms are kept warm.

Attitudes towards cooler rooms vary. Women prefer temperatures a few degrees higher than men, Researchers Speak. Warm homes are also recommended for the elderly and sick. But there is limited evidence to support the World Health Organization’s recommendation for a minimum temperature of 18°C.

Small changes add up. Delay turning on the heating by a month to November. That could save your household about 670 kWh per year, or 5.5% of space heating energy. Friend can save even more by wearing thick coats and persuading cohabitants to do the same. Then you can reduce the temperature to 2C.

Politicians risk appearing patronizing or insensitive if they offer advice on saving energy. But high energy prices will force people to give up. Lex calculates the battery hot jacket there may be a need. They warm people, not homes.

The Lex team is more interested in hearing from readers. Please let us know your thoughts on limiting the temperature in public places and at home in the comments section below.

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