Energy savings

Irregular compliance with energy saving measures in commercial premises

Public institutions most observant as most establishments turn down air conditioning

3 min
Thermometer with temperature at the Corte Inglés

Barcelona / MadridThe commercial sector in Catalonia has half-heartedly rolled out the new energy saving measures that came into force this Wednesday, which limits the minimum temperature air conditioning can be set at (27ºC) and forces shops to turn off shop window lights after 10 pm, which some establishments in the centre and began to do last night.

This newspaper has visited shops in the city of Barcelona and observance of the measure is uneven. El Corte Ingles department store and La Illa shopping centre both comply quite well with the measure, with temperatures of 26.3 ºC on average. It is true that depending on the number of people inside the shop, the temperature changes. "For the moment it is not being traumatic, but we are aware that in the evenings or at weekends, when more people come, we will suffer a lot," staff tell ARA. H&M, Benetton or Decathlon almost comply, with temperatures in their shops between 26 and 27 ºC, which is very close to the norm. On the contrary, Uniqlo's shop is at 22.6 ºC, according to their own thermometer, which is next to the cash registers.

Temperature on a Uniqlo thermometer.

The most compliant – because, staff say, "there is no choice" – are the public companies. Post offices strictly comply with the restriction: closed door, 27 ºC in the public customer service area and 28 ºC in the warehouse. "What is problematic is when a lot of people come in and the door is opened and closed often... then the heat is very noticeable," an post office worker explains.

Slow adaptation in Madrid

Madrid's regional government, led by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has been most critical of the central government's energy saving plan. The region has been slow to adapt to the two measures that came into force on Wednesday.

As for lighting, as has happened in Barcelona, this Tuesday night some shops in the city centre already turned the lights off, as did some public buildings. "Tonight [Tuesday] I have turned off the three spotlights and the sign," notes José, the manager of one of the restaurants near the Plaza Santa Ana in Madrid, one of the most central areas of the city, popular with tourists.

He admits that until now he used to leave the lights on, but he doesn't think the change will affect business. "Something is something," he says about how the measure could help Spain reduce gas consumption, although he doubts it could have "a major impact". He has also adjusted the temperature and has set the air conditioning at 25 degrees (he had it set at 23). "27 is impossible. If we set it at 27 degrees with the heat in Madrid, you will be eating at 33," he says

Unlike José, three restaurants next to him say that "they haven't changed anything". In their case, they have no lights outside and they claim that they have set the temperature "at about 24 degrees". "We haven't understood it [the energy saving plan] very well either," comments one of the waiters, who acknowledges some confusion with the information. A colleague of his says he found out about it this morning on the television.

Cutting the bill

Catering, however, is not the only area affected. Stores and shopping centres also have to adapt to the new plan. "Since the price started going up a year ago, I have reduced [electricity] consumption and turned off the lights," says Pablo. He is the owner of Azzo shirt store, also in the center of Madrid.

He explains that it was "unsustainable" to pay €150+ bills he started receiving a year ago, in the midst of escalating prices. "I have no AC, just a fan, and I put in led lights," he explains. "The bill has not gone below 100 euros," he adds, and he does not understand the "conflict" over the measures announced by the government. On the other hand, in a toy store next to him, they have indeed turned off the lights in the shop windows as well as the screen, but they have not changed the temperature settings. "Customers are dying of heat," they argue.