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Spain bans setting the AC below 27 degrees Celsius

As Europe battles with a scorching summer and skyrocketing energy prices, Spain has become the latest government to urge its citizens to turn down the AC.

A decree published on Tuesday morning in the official state gazette and scheduled to go into effect next week mandates that air conditioning in public places be set at or above 27 degrees Celsius (about 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and that doors of those buildings remain closed to preserve the energy.

Those public places include offices, shops, bars, theaters, airports, and train stations. The decree is being extended as a recommendation to all Spanish households. The rules include maintaining heating at or below 19 degrees Celsius (about 66 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter and will remain in place at least through November 2023.

“I’VE ASKED MINISTERS AND PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR BOSSES NOT TO WEAR TIES UNLESS NECESSARY.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has stated publicly that the country urgently needs to save energy, even encouraging office workers to remove their ties to help stay cool without artificial assistance. “I’ve asked ministers and public and private sector bosses not to wear ties unless absolutely necessary,” he said at a press conference last week.

Aside from lighthearted suggestions, European countries are scrambling to solve two problems: scorching heat that is driving up energy demand and political conflict that is complicating energy supplies. In the midst of the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, countries such as Spain are under increasing pressure not to rely on Russian gas.

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But not everyone is on board with these new measures. The Madrid region president Isabel Díaz Ayuso tweeted, “Madrid isn’t going to switch off. This generates insecurity and scares away tourism and consumption.”

In Europe, where some countries enjoy a climate that has traditionally been milder than much of the US, fewer than 10 percent of households have air conditioning, compared to over 90 percent of American households. But as heatwaves increase in frequency, the International Agency predicts Europe will almost triple its air conditioning stock to 275 million units by 2050.

Correction, Wednesday, Aug 3, 6:02PM: An earlier version of this article included a sentence that incorrectly said the mandate called for setting the AC below 27 degrees, it requires setting the temperature above 27 degrees.