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Exclusive: Europeans cut heat, answer calls to save energy

BERLIN, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Europeans have reduced their heating this winter, apparently heeding government calls to save energy amid the Ukraine crisis, with some delaying ignition by nearly a month and lowering temperature, depending on the data.

The data, from hundreds of thousands of smart thermometers installed in homes across the continent by Munich-based company Tado, shows that as temperatures fell, households were responding to dire warnings about rising heating costs.

Across Europe, individuals and businesses are increasingly using these smart thermometers to monitor how much gas they are consuming. These are sometimes tied to an energy provider’s rate structure to smooth demand and reduce peak costs. Germany has made them mandatory in new construction.

During the winter of 2022-23, the proportion of homes with heating on in Europe exceeded 90% on November 28. In the previous three years, that threshold had been breached weeks earlier, on Nov. 7, 12, and 5, respectively, according to data from Tado, which is one of several companies active in the fast-growing smart thermometer market.

Reuters Charts

German public authorities have reduced the temperature in their offices to 19 degrees. At the University of Frankfurt an der Oder, on the Polish border, staff have been given blankets to wrap themselves in.

Data from Tado shows how households have also reduced their spending.

According to the data, home heating parameters were on average almost a degree lower this winter than in previous years.

After a turbulent period, energy regulators are more relaxed about Europe’s gas supply prospects.

“With savings, gas inflows, good storage levels, we are very, very optimistic that we won’t have to worry about a gas shortage this winter,” the regulator said on Tuesday. German network Klaus Mueller, after previously telling consumers to save deep. cuts to avoid serious disturbances.

The European Union imports 80% of its gas and gas represents 22% of Europe’s energy consumption and covers 32% of household energy needs, according to EU.

But huge efforts were made to reduce dependence on Russian gas and increase imports from European gas producers like Norway and the Netherlands, while Germany quickly built LNG terminals.

Gas prices in Europe fell sharply after peaking in August as the rush to fill inventories pushed the market higher.

Dutch Stoicism

Tado’s data, based on readings from 340,000 cloud-connected smart thermometers across Europe, is relatively resilient to varied weather conditions over the four winters measured, as it records target temperatures set by households.

These show regional variations but also a clear direction. Dutch households have reduced their target temperatures by 0.99 degrees Celsius on average compared to a year ago, while Spanish consumers have reduced their targets by 0.29 degrees.

In Britain, 79.6% of Tado-connected households have lowered their temperature settings, while in gas-rich Norway just 47% have done so. Temperature settings in Norway fell by 0.2 degrees Celsius to 20.8 degrees and in Britain by 1 degree to 18.3 degrees.

European governments, including Germany, have provided billions of euros to help individuals and businesses cope with high energy bills.

Reuters Charts

Tado has installed three million thermometers, but comparisons can only be made between thermostats that have been installed in the same location for four consecutive years. As a result, only about 10% of them can be used in the data.

There is also a “wealth effect”. In Western Europe, the demographic group where thermometers are installed is quite large.

The data is less representative in Eastern European countries, where households with smart thermostats tend to be the wealthiest. In Bulgaria, Tado customers lowered their temperature by an average of 0.28%.

“Around 79% of energy consumption in a private home is heating and hot water,” said Christian Deilmann, managing director of Tado. “The television, the kitchen and the lighting are not so important: the important thing is to have the heating and the hot water under control.”

German regulators fear that the current drop in gas prices will make customers worry less about energy conservation. It is still too early to tell from Tado data if household energy discipline is slackening.

“We need to start thinking about 2023/24,” German regulator Mueller tweeted on Tuesday. “We must continue to save gas, be more energy efficient, develop renewable energy and fill storage.”

(This story has been corrected to set the year from 2021-22 to 2022-23 in paragraph 4)

Reporting by Thomas Escritt. Editing by Jane Merriman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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