BERLIN, Jan 18 (Portal) – Europeans have turned down their heating this winter, apparently heeding government calls to save energy amid the Ukraine crisis, with some delaying switching on by almost a month and setting the temperature lower , as data show.
Data from hundreds of thousands of smart thermometers that Munich-based company Tado has installed in homes across the continent shows that homes have responded to dire warnings of higher heating bills by dropping temperatures.
People and businesses across Europe are increasingly using such smart thermometers to keep track of their gas consumption. These are sometimes linked to a utility’s tariff structure to smooth demand and reduce peak costs. Germany has made them mandatory for new buildings.
In the winter of 2022/23, the proportion of households with the heating on across Europe exceeded 90% on 28 November. Over the previous three years, that threshold was breached weeks earlier, on November 7, 12 and 5, respectively, according to data from Tado, one of many companies active in the fast-growing smart thermometer market.
German authorities lowered the temperatures in their offices to a cool 19 degrees. At the university in Frankfurt an der Oder on the Polish border, employees were given blankets to wrap up in.
Tado’s data shows how households are also saving.
According to the data, heating settings at home this winter were on average almost a degree lower than in previous years.
After a hectic period, energy regulators are more relaxed about the prospects for Europe’s gas supply.
“With savings, gas inflows, good storage levels, we’re very, very optimistic that we won’t have to worry about a gas shortage again this winter,” German grid regulator Klaus Mueller said on Tuesday, after earlier urging consumers to deeply agree go cuts to prevent serious disruption.
The European Union imports 80% of its gas and gas accounts for 22% of European energy consumption and 32% of household energy needs according to the EU.
But huge efforts have been made to reduce dependence on Russian gas and increase imports from European gas producers like Norway and the Netherlands, while Germany has been quick to build LNG terminals.
Gas prices in Europe have fallen sharply from a peak in August as a rush to fill storage fueled the market higher.
Tado’s data, based on readings from 340,000 cloud-connected smart thermometers across Europe, is relatively resilient to varying weather conditions over the four measured winters as it records the target temperatures set by households.
These show regional differences, but also a clear direction. Dutch households lowered target temperatures by an average of 0.99 degrees Celsius compared to last year, while Spanish consumers lowered target temperatures by 0.29 degrees.
In the UK, 79.6% of households connected to Tado lowered their temperature settings, compared to just 47% in gas-rich Norway. Temperature settings in Norway fell by 0.2 degrees Celsius to 20.8 degrees and in the UK by 1 degree to 18.3 degrees.
European governments, including Germany, have allocated billions of euros to help people and businesses deal with high energy bills.
Tado has installed three million thermometers, but comparisons can only be made between thermostats that have been installed in the same place for four years. As a result, only about 10% of them can be used in the data.
There is also a “wealth effect”. In Western Europe, the demographic in which the thermometers are installed is quite wide.
The data is less representative in countries in Eastern Europe, where households with smart thermostats tend to be more affluent. In Bulgaria, Tado customers lowered their temperature by an average of 0.28%.
“Around 79% of the energy consumption in a private household is for heating and hot water,” says Tado Managing Director Christian Deilmann. “Television, cooking and light are not that important, it is important to have the heating and hot water under control.”
German regulators fear current lower gas prices will make customers less concerned about saving energy. It is not yet possible to tell from the data from Tado whether the energy discipline of households is decreasing.
“We need to start thinking about 2023/24,” tweeted German regulator Mueller on Tuesday. “We must continue to save gas, become more energy-efficient, expand renewable energies and fill storage facilities.”
(This story has been corrected to set the year from 2021-22 to 2022-23 in paragraph 4.)
Reporting by Thomas Escritt. Editing by Jane Merriman
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