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ENERGY

EXPLAINED: When should I turn on my heating in Denmark this year?

Energy costs in Denmark are set to reach sky-high levels this winter, which will leave many people wondering when they should start heating their homes and by how much. Here's what you need to bear in mind.

A radiator with a vent valve
Denmark is soon entering the "heating season" or fyringssæson where heating systems are switched on. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

What’s happening?

As a result of supply stoppages for cheap Russian gas, on top of inflation; energy prices in Denmark have been at record levels for months.

Due to the situation, the Danish government has sent money to some homes impacted by high gas prices and parliament is discussing other measures for households. Public buildings are set to see thermostats turned down and outside illumination switched off.

As the temperature starts to drop throughout the country, the heating season is getting underway and many people are wondering about the best way to heat their homes, and if they have to follow any rules. 

READ ALSO: How much will Danish energy bills go up this winter?

Does it make a difference what type of accommodation I live in?

The right time to start heating up your home depends on several factors including your own personal preference, the weather, whether you live in rented accommodation or own your home, and on the heating system in your property.

How does the heating system work in Danish homes?

Around 65 percent of homes in Denmark use district heating. This system distributes hot water from heating plants to houses and apartments through underground water pipes. The system is designed to be able to heat a room to 20 degrees when there’s an outdoor temperature of 12 degrees.

This is known as fyringssæson meaning “heating season”, which usually runs from the 1st October to April 30th and is calculated when the outside daily average temperature drops to 12 degrees Celsius and below for at least three consecutive days, and ends in the spring when it reaches 10 degrees or above for at least 3 consecutive days.

Does my landlord control my heating?

A lot of rented accommodation will use fyringssæson and under Danish tenancy laws, landlords are required to supply adequate heating and hot water at all times. A daytime temperature of at least 21 degrees, sometimes 22-25 degrees, is generally recommended in all rooms via the heating system.

However due to energy costs this year, the government has announced that the temperature in public buildings will be set to 19 degrees, unless there are special circumstances requiring it to be higher. Hospitals, care homes and preschool care are exempted. The temperature in public buildings is usually set between 21 and 23 degrees.

The government has also recommended that people reduce their own heating at home by 1 to 2 degrees.

READ ALSO: How people in Denmark are changing their energy use to keep bills down

How can I keep track of my heating bill?

Earlier this year, the Danish Parliament made a rule that heating companies are obliged to provide information on energy consumption which is sent to consumers seven times a year during the heating season, where you can see how much heat is used. 

It is worth keeping an eye on energy prices and asking the property owner whether the heating system is optimally adjusted.

How can I use the radiators effectively?

“It’s a common a mistake that people sit in one heated room and leave other rooms with the radiator turned off and the door closed,” Michael Nielsen, product manager with Danish cleantech engineering company Danfoss, told The Local.

“But it’s actually more important to use all radiators at same time to heat the whole house and maybe set them a little lower. You will save energy and get more comfort this way,” he said.

Nielsen also recommends not going below a temperature of 14 degrees inside the home.

“Such a low temperature may lead to unpleasant conditions such as condensation on surfaces and mould on the walls and carpet,” Nielsen said.

Setting your radiator to the right temperature will help it work more efficiently. “In Denmark this is usually 21 to 22 degrees but the public advice is to lower this by 1 to 2 degrees this winter, to save on energy costs,” Nielsen added.

Another important thing is to check your thermostat is working and change it if it’s more than 15 years old.

“You can save around 8 percent of energy consumption on each radiator by installing a new thermostat,” Nielsen told The Local.

READ ALSO: ‘Semi off-grid’: Readers’ tips for coping with expensive energy bills in Denmark

How else can I save on heating costs?

There are plenty of ways you can help to keep your heating costs down, the most simple of which are keeping doors and windows insulated with draft excluders, and regularly airing out rooms.

“We recommend airing your house twice a day by opening the windows and turning down the thermostat.
 
“At other times it is better not to turn the heating off completely as it may take more energy to heat up the room again. Instead you should reduce the temperature by 3 to 4 degrees at night,” Nielsen said.

The Danish Energy Agency also recommends the following:

  • Check your house or apartment for any cracks where heat could be escaping.
  • Check your radiators are working efficiently and don’t put furniture right in front of them.
  • Check your windows and doors are keeping heat in or whether they need upgrading.
  • Check the insulation in the outer walls, attic, roof, floors and pipes.
  • Check your heating system is running as efficiently as possible.
 
 

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ENERGY

How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

European governments are announcing emergency measures on a near-weekly basis to protect households and businesses from the energy crisis stemming from Russia's war in Ukraine.

How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

Hundreds of billions of euros and counting have been shelled out since Russia invaded its pro-EU neighbour in late February.

Governments have gone all out: from capping gas and electricity prices to rescuing struggling energy companies and providing direct aid to households to fill up their cars.

The public spending has continued, even though European Union countries had accumulated mountains of new debt to save their economies during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

But some leaders have taken pride at their use of the public purse to battle this new crisis, which has sent inflation soaring, raised the cost of living and sparked fears of recession.

After announcing €14billion in new measures last week, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi boasted the latest spending put Italy, “among the countries that have spent the most in Europe”.

The Bruegel institute, a Brussels-based think tank that is tracking energy crisis spending by EU governments, ranks Italy as the second-biggest spender in Europe, after Germany.

READ ALSO How EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

Rome has allocated €59.2billion since September 2021 to shield households and businesses from the rising energy prices, accounting for 3.3 percent of its gross domestic product.

Germany tops the list with €100.2billion, or 2.8 percent of its GDP, as the country was hit hard by its reliance on Russian gas supplies, which have dwindled in suspected retaliation over Western sanctions against Moscow for the war.

On Wednesday, Germany announced the nationalisation of troubled gas giant Uniper.

France, which shielded consumers from gas and electricity price rises early, ranks third with €53.6billion euros allocated so far, representing 2.2 percent of its GDP.

Spending to continue rising
EU countries have now put up €314billion so far since September 2021, according to Bruegel.

“This number is set to increase as energy prices remain elevated,” Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at Bruegel, told AFP.

The energy bills of a typical European family could reach €500 per month early next year, compared to €160 in 2021, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The measures to help consumers have ranged from a special tax on excess profits in Italy, to the energy price freeze in France, and subsidies public transport in Germany.

But the spending follows a pandemic response that increased public debt, which in the first quarter accounted for 189 percent of Greece’s GDP, 153 percent in Italy, 127 percent in Portugal, 118 percent in Spain and 114 percent in France.

“Initially designed as a temporary response to what was supposed to be a temporary problem, these measures have ballooned and become structural,” Tagliapietra said.

“This is clearly not sustainable from a public finance perspective. It is important that governments make an effort to focus this action on the most vulnerable households and businesses as much as possible.”

Budget reform
The higher spending comes as borrowing costs are rising. The European Central Bank hiked its rate for the first time in more than a decade in July to combat runaway inflation, which has been fuelled by soaring energy prices.

The yield on 10-year French sovereign bonds reached an eight-year high of 2.5 percent on Tuesday, while Germany now pays 1.8 percent interest after boasting a negative rate at the start of the year.

The rate charged to Italy has quadrupled from one percent earlier this year to four percent now, reviving the spectre of the debt crisis that threatened the eurozone a decade ago.

“It is critical to avoid debt crises that could have large destabilising effects and put the EU itself at risk,” the International Monetary Fund warned in a recent blog calling for reforms to budget rules.

The EU has suspended until 2023 rules that limit the public deficit of countries to three percent of GDP and debt to 60 percent.

The European Commission plans to present next month proposals to reform the 27-nation bloc’s budget rules, which have been shattered by the crises.

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