How Europe plans to cut gas usage

From reducing shower time to driving slower to fines for shopkeepers who don’t close their doors, Europeans are aiming to reduce energy use in time for winter, and some citizens are taking to social media to share their experiences.

For example, the German Christopher Hipp gave tips on Twitter for defrosting a freezer. The more frost-free the kitchen appliance, the more electricity is saved.

Cindy, who lives in the Netherlands, shared her attempts to shower within a 5 minute time goal – failing with 6 minutes and 21 seconds. “It took 48 seconds for the shower to get hot,” she tweeted.

Ruud Vuik and his daughter, who also live in the Netherlands, attempted the same feat, using a blue waterdrop shower timer for a week that starts at 5 minutes before trickling down to a blaring alarm.

A customer browses alcoholic drinks in a fridge at Exale Brewing and Taproom in east London on August 19, 2022. The European Commission agreed in July on a voluntary target to reduce gas consumption by 15% by 2023 compared to the average consumption from 2016 to 2021.

Hollie Adams | AFP | Getty Images

These targets are part of the EU’s broader effort to slash gas demand this winter using an arsenal of methods of its choice.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, agreed in July on a voluntary target to reduce gas consumption by 15% by March 2023, compared to the 2016-2021 average consumption.

These are the recommendations of some EU governments:


President Emmanuel Macron called for a 10% reduction in gas use and warned that forced energy savings would come to the table if voluntary efforts proved insufficient. Russian gas imports account for 15% of France’s gas consumption, making it less dependent on Russia than most other EU countries.

  • The lights of the iconic Eiffel Tower will go out about an hour earlier at 11:45 p.m., the mayor of Paris announced on September 13.
  • Shopkeepers who leave the doors of air-conditioned shops open will be fined 750 euros ($751).
  • Neon signs are prohibited from 01:00 to 06:00
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Germany was hardest hit by Russian gas supply cuts. Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck released a statement introducing a series of measures that came into force on September 2 in hopes of reducing gas consumption by around 2%.

  • Public buildings are heated to a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius.
  • Shop fronts may not be illuminated at night.
  • Ban on heating private swimming pools.


Austria is also heavily dependent on Russian gas and has obtained more than 80% from Moscow in previous years. Last week, the Austrian Ministry of Climate launched an energy saving campaign entitled “Mission 11” with these recommendations:

  • Drive slower to save energy – with a recommended maximum speed of 100 km/h
  • Defrost the freezer regularly.
  • Reduce shower time.


While Spain is not as dependent as other EU members on Russian gas, which accounts for 14.5% of its imports, the Spanish parliament has approved an 8% reduction in gas consumption.

  • The air conditioning temperatures in most public buildings and companies must not be set below 27 degrees Celsius in summer. And the heating should not be above 19 degrees Celsius in winter.
  • Doors of air-conditioned shops are to be closed.
  • No night lighting of shop fronts or public monuments.


While 75% of Finland’s gas supply came from Russian imports, the country is not that vulnerable to Moscow’s whims. Natural gas accounts for less than 6% of the total energy consumption in Finland. In the last week of August, the Ministry of Economy and Employment announced a campaign called “One degree less” which aims to get 75% of Finns to reduce their own energy consumption by:

  • Reducing the household temperature on a thermostat.
  • Use fewer electronics, fewer light sources.
  • Limit showers to 5 minutes.
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Italy imported almost 40% of its gas from Russia last year. On the initiative of the Italian Ministry of Ecological Conversion, the country aims to reduce gas consumption by 7% (5.3 billion cubic meters) by March:

  • The thermostat in industrial buildings is to be lowered by one degree to 17 degrees Celsius.
  • The thermostat temperatures of the blocks of flats are to be regulated to 19 degrees Celsius.
  • Turn off the radiators for at least an hour a day.


The Dutch government launched a campaign in April to reduce dependence on Russian gas, which accounts for about 12.5% ​​of the Netherlands’ gas consumption.

  • shower for 5 minutes.
  • Turn down the central heating.

Enough for the winter?

Some reports estimate that if Europe could cut its gas consumption by 15% by March 2023, the region could weather the winter despite limited supplies and rising energy prices.

“We’re already there… this month’s savings have already surpassed the 15% target,” said Samantha Dart, senior energy strategist at Goldman Sachs.

Facilities at the Fluxys gas storage station in Loenhout, Belgium. The European Commission agreed in July on a voluntary target to reduce gas consumption by 15% by 2023 compared to the 2016 average consumption by 2021.

Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images

Difficult but not impossible

However, according to another analyst, that target looks ambitious, especially when the winter season begins.

During that period, household consumption for heating “far exceeds industrial demand,” which has already fallen by 20-30% in most parts of Europe, said Eurasia Group director Henning Gloystein.

“Meeting the 15 percent reduction target from business as usual will be difficult, but not impossible,” Gloystein told CNBC.

If Europe creates sustainable demand destruction and access to alternative gas supplies, “strict rationing” can be avoided, Gloystein added.

A group of houses in Cercedilla, on April 20, 2022 in Madrid, Spain, as Madrid activated the winter tolerance plan for snow, rain and wind. A cold winter could make it difficult to achieve the demand reduction needed in Europe.

Rafael Bastante | Europe Press | Getty Images

He said an “immediate reduction” in household consumption could come at the same time as most EU gas tariffs rise on October 1, in addition to aggressive media campaigns by governments.

Possible winter recession

However, Henning warned that this will come at a price.

“This will almost certainly come at the expense of a winter EU recession that will hit low-income households and small industries hardest,” he said.

A cold winter could also make it difficult to achieve the required demand reduction but also increase the likelihood of supply disruptions from Norway, where offshore rigs in the North Sea have to be evacuated during storms, Henning said.

“If just one or two of the necessary measures don’t work, the situation could get pretty serious pretty quickly.”

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