Controversy as Spain bans air conditioning from dropping below 27C

A debate has been sparked after the Spanish government decided to prevent offices, shops and other places from setting the air conditioning below 27C in summer.

It is part of plans to reduce the country’s energy consumption and limit dependence on Russian gas.

The decree, published on Tuesday morning, will also prevent heating from rising above 19°C during the winter.

The rules will be mandatory in all public and commercial buildings, including bars, cinemas, theatres, airports and train stations.

It is extended as a recommendation to Spanish households.

“Right now, perhaps suggested by the heat wave we are experiencing, I would say with 27 degrees we will be very hot. Maybe we could work at 25 degrees, but not at 27.

Laura Berge, a civil servant in Valence, questioned the practicality of the measure.

“Generally you can work at 27 degrees, but to get to that temperature in hot areas you have to put the air conditioner on 22 or 23 degrees for a few hours, so I’m afraid it’s not allowed to go above 27 degrees .at any time,” she told Euronews.

“In this case, the air would have to be opened well upstream and it would be counterproductive in terms of energy savings.”

Berge’s colleague, María Isabel Ruiz, agrees.

“I am in favor of saving energy and that it requires sacrifices, but these proposed temperatures are not adequate,” she said.

“A range of 2 or 3 degrees should be indicated to adapt it to outside temperatures since in each region of Spain it is different.”

The government passed the bill as part of an attempt to reduce the country’s gas consumption by 7%, in line with recent European Union energy agreements aimed at limiting dependence on Russian gas.

“We see that it saves energy and is good for climate change, but our concern is that it affects families, especially the most vulnerable,” said Ana Isabel Gracia, secretary of social policies and housing at the Spanish trade union UGT (Unión General de Ouvriers).

“Instead of taking global measures, it should be specified by the establishments so that they can have a different temperature. It is not the same thing to work, for example, in a place where there is a lot machines and where the temperature is very high, and in another type of environment where there is none of that.

“There are studies that say the optimal temperature is 24 degrees. So maybe instead of raising it to 27 degrees, we could stay at 25.”

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for ecological transition, said the measures – which include switching off lights in shop windows after 10 p.m. but not public lighting – would initially be maintained until November 2023.

She encouraged Spaniards to join in the reductions, saying it would not only reduce consumption levels, but also household energy bills.