Spain bans offices, bars and shops from setting AC below 80 degrees

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As Europeans this summer struggle with extreme heat and rising energy costs, Spain issued a decree this week requiring air conditioning in public spaces be set at or above 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). The measure will apply to offices, shops, bars and restaurants, as well as public transport systems and transport centers. 

The guidelines also include keeping heating at or below 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter.   

The decree was part of a bill passed by the Spanish government Monday in a bid to reduce the country’s gas consumption by 7%, in line with the recent European Union energy agreements to limit dependency on Russian gas.  

Shops will also be obliged to keep doors closed and heating systems must be checked more often to increase efficiency under the new measures, Spanish Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera said.

The measures include switching off store window lights after 10 p.m. Street lighting will not be affected.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the new package last week, saying, “You just need to walk into a shopping mall to realize that maybe the temperature is set too low.”  

Not all officials were on board with the changes. Isabel Diaz Ayuso, Community of Madrid president, wrote in a translated tweet Monday, “Madrid does not go out. This generates insecurity and scares away tourism and consumption.”  

Spain is not the only European country trying to combat energy usage and cost. According to The Guardian, France has told businesses which use air conditioning to keep their doors closed or risk being fined. Germany has banned the use of mobile air conditioning and fan heaters.  

During a heat wave last month, Spain recorded temperatures as high as 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit). According to Spain’s Carlos III Institute, which records temperature-related fatalities daily, 360 deaths were attributed to high temperatures from July 10 to 15. That was compared with 27 temperature-related deaths the previous six days.

Spain is one of the hottest European countries in the summer months. The country has already had two heat waves this year with temperatures often surpassing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for several days in a row. Temperatures are forecast to soar again in the first weeks of August.    

Spain is one of several European nations which have contended with large wildfires this summer, including France, Italy Portugal, Greece, Germany and the Czech Republic. The fires have forced thousands of people to evacuate. 

Spain’s decree will remain in place until at least November 2023. 

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