How are Denmark’s schools preparing for lower heating this winter?

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How are Denmark’s schools preparing for lower heating this winter?
Temperatures will be set to a lower 19 degrees Celsius in Danish classrooms this winter. File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish schools could ask students to bring an extra layer to classes this winter, while breaks from teaching could be used to warm up.


Thermostats in Danish state schools (folkeskoler) are to be turned down to 19 degrees by October 1st as part of a government plan to save energy.

The plan also involves setting thermostats at 19 degrees in public buildings and switching off outside illumination this winter. Temperatures in schools are normally set to around 21.5 degrees.

As part of the government plan, thermostats will be set to 19 degrees in public buildings no later than October 1st. Some types of building will be exempted, including hospitals, care homes and preschool care.


The period of the year in which central heating is switched on in public buildings – known as the fyringssæson – will be reduced. Instead of running from October 1st to April 30th, it will not be switched on until temperatures in the buildings drops below 19 degrees.

Energy and gas prices are currently around five times more expensive than they were a year ago, with further increases possible.

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

The optimal temperature for classrooms is 21-22 degrees Celsius and a lower temperature will affect children in different ways, an expert who spoke to DR said.

“Some students will probably not be affected by it at all, while others might feel a form of tension of stress in their body. That happens because the body is using more energy to stay warm than normal,” Jannie Moon Lindskov, director of the Danish Centre for Learning Environments (Dansk Center for Undervisningsmiljø), told broadcaster DR.

“Some children will find it hard to sit still. That can be expressed by shaking their legs or rubbing their hands to stay warm. That can create a type of agitation and that can also affect concentration,” she said.

As such, breaks for physical exercise are important because they aid concentration by helping schoolgoers to keep warm and avoid long periods of sitting still, she said.

“On a purely practical level you could maybe also go out and buy some rugs out of the class cash box and encourage to put warmer clothes on,” she said.


A senior teacher told DR that schools and parents must talk about the issue with children to prepare them for the changes the measure would bring.

“It will be necessary to talk to students about the background [for turning down heating]. And it will probably also be necessary to tell them it probably won’t be enough come wearing a t-shirt, that you’ll need a sensible top. And instead of coming in ankle socks, wear normal socks,” the teacher, Lene Banke Andersen, a head of department at Aalbæk Skole in North Jutland, said to DR.

Many schools in Denmark currently practice “brain breaks”, in which a short break in classes is given to students for physical activity and respite from learning.

Temperatures of 19 degrees in classrooms mean these breaks could also be used to help children warm up, DR writes.

“It’s important to have a physical learning activity to get the body moving. That helps you to warm up while also keeping moving and learning,” Andersen said to DR.


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