Minister of Construction: "Legally ordered freezing" nonsensical

Minister of Construction: “Legally ordered freezing” nonsensical

Klara Geywitz

In the debate about possible gas bottlenecks, Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) spoke out against lower minimum temperatures for apartments. Photo: Britta Pedersen/dpa

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If the housing industry and a municipal association have their way, it should be possible to lower the minimum temperature in apartments in the event of a gas shortage. A federal agency is also proposing this.

In the debate about possible gas bottlenecks in Germany, Building Minister Klara Geywitz spoke out against lower minimum temperatures for apartments. “I think legally prescribed freezing is nonsensical,” said the SPD politician to the German Press Agency.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck does not rule out legal measures to save energy as a consequence of reduced gas supplies from Russia. “If the storage volumes do not increase, then we will have to take further measures to save, if necessary also by law,” said the Green politician on Thursday evening in the ARD “Tagesthemen”.

When asked whether this could also be the reduction of the prescribed minimum temperature in apartments, Habeck replied: “We have not yet dealt with that intensively. We will look at all the laws that contribute there.” In addition to the Federal Network Agency, the housing industry and the Association of Towns and Municipalities have called for lower specifications for minimum temperatures in apartments in order to be able to react to bottlenecks and save gas.

Gas delivery quantities significantly reduced

The Russian state-owned company Gazprom has significantly reduced its deliveries to Germany through the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream. In order to save on a large scale, the President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, also proposed lowering the specifications for heating. Landlords should no longer have to turn up the heating system to at least 20 to 22 degrees during the heating period, but the specifications could drop at times.

Geywitz now replied: “The case law stipulates a minimum of 20 degrees.” Anything below that could even be a health hazard and was also not thought of enough in terms of building technology. The debate leads nowhere, because with an amendment to the heating cost ordinance at the beginning of January, monthly information about consumption was sent to tenants. “So you can check your consumption regularly and are doing so more and more just because of the prices.” It makes more sense to have practical information from consumer centers and the federal government.

“On the other hand, we also have to knock on the door of those who keep an eye on the heating systems, for example the caretaker,” said Geywitz. “We will provide something together with the housing industry.”

Legal framework should be adjusted

The Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW) called for the minimum temperature in apartments to be reduced by up to 6 degrees in the event of a gas shortage: “Should gas deliveries to Germany be further restricted significantly in the future and there should be a shortage, the legal framework should be adjusted accordingly that further reductions in the minimum temperature to a maximum lower limit of 18 degrees during the day and 16 degrees at night become possible,” GdW President Axel Gedaschko told the Funke media group.

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities also called for different framework conditions. General manager Gerd Landsberg told the “Rheinische Post” that the minimum temperature of 20 degrees had to be changed. “Even an apartment with 18 or 19 degrees can still be lived in well, and everyone should be able to support this comparatively small sacrifice.”

The federal German Energy Agency, on the other hand, was critical of a legally anchored reduction in temperature in rented apartments. Disputes with landlords about maintaining the heating temperature are already a major annoyance for tenants and families. “Such a proposal is anti-consumer and harms acceptance and thus the success of the energy transition,” said Dena boss Andreas Kuhlmann. He suggested using digital thermostats and measuring systems quickly so that many households are supplied in winter. The savings potential is over 10 percent.

Consumer expert Peter Kenning advocated bonuses for those consumers who significantly reduce their gas consumption in the coming winter. “Before you resort to statutory savings measures, you could leverage the potential that is possible through incentives,” said the economist to the “Handelsblatt”.


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