Countries around the world are all having to deal with the current energy crisis. Costs are rising for everyone and people are receiving different levels of support from their governments. Some get one-off energy payments, while others are being asked to turn their heating off for an extra hour a day.
The UK government has just launched a new campaign with energy saving tips in an attempt to reduce usage and energy bills. They have also imposed the Energy Price Guarantee which caps typical household usage at £2,500 per year, as well as giving every household £60 a month towards their bills for a six month period.
But what are other countries doing to help their citizens cut their bills?
Germany is the European market most reliant on Russian gas and it plans to replace this energy with fuel from coal power plants.
Taxpayers received a one-off payment of 300 euros with more help for those on benefits.
Last year Germany approved a ‘defensive shield’ package worth 200bn euros, including a cap on gas and electricity prices for households and businesses.
The government also paid December 2022’s monthly gas bills for all homes and some businesses. About 200 sites in Berlin will no longer be lit at night, including the Reichstag, Berlin City Hall and opera houses.
The French have a plan to cut energy by 10% in the next two years, launching an ‘energy sobriety’ plan in an attempt to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
It has developed an ‘every gesture counts’ campaign, covering simple everyday changes people can make, including taking shorter showers, switching off unused electrical items and not heating rooms above 19 degrees C.
The 19C cap includes public buildings and public sports facilities are cutting temperatures by 2C and swimming pools by 1C. There are now speed limits on ski lifts and plans to produce less artificial snow.
France is offering financial gains for people cutting down, with civil servants getting an extra 2.88 euros a day to work from home, if it allows government buildings to close.
In 2022 it announced a one-off payment to 5.8 million households of 100 euros and forced the state-owned energy provider, EDF, to cap price rises at four percent and says it will cap rises this year at 15%.
Spain and Portugal
Spain reduced VAT on energy bills to 10% and then five percent from July to the end of last year. Both countries introduced a price cap for gas to last one year and wants to halve gas bills for 40% of customers in both countries, In Spain, those earning less than 14,000 euros per annum, will receive a one-off payment of 200 euros, if they do not already receive benefits.
Spain has imposed temperature limits on public and commercial premises, including train stations and airports, which cannot be cooled to below 27C in summer or heated to more than 19 C in Winter.
Croatia is looking to save energy using data and measurements; households are being encouraged to use appliances during off-peak, using LED lighting and increasing their reliance on public transport.
The government says indoor temperatures in winter should not exceed 21 C and be no lower than 25 C in summer.
Since November, energy prices for households have been capped at January 2022 levels, up to a certain level of consumption. Any extra is to be charged at market rates.
The government offered a discount of 190 euros on energy bills in November and December last year and there was a one-off energy allowance of 1,300 euros to those on lower incomes. VAT on energy bills and tax on petrol and diesel have also been cut.
Greece, too, is dependent on Russian gas and has taken steps to reduce consumption, announcing a $640m programme to renew windows, along with heating and cooling systems in state-owned buildings.
It has asked for lights and devices to be switched off in public buildings after work hours; reducing consumption has become mandatory in all public services.
Poland announced an energy price support package worth 26.8bn zlotys (5bn euros), which included freezing energy prices this year at 2022 levels, with a limit of 2,000 kWh per year for households.
The government has also reduced VAT on energy bills.
Norway has set a maximum price that households should pay for their energy; anything over this, the government will pay 80% of the bill. They have also proposed new taxes on onshore wind and hydropower energy, to redistribute some of the huge increase in profits over the past year.
Italy gave a one-off payment of 200 euros to people earning under 35,000 euros a year and a 20% tax credit for all energy-intensive companies experiencing a 30% rise in prices.
The government is also asking people to turn central heating down by 1C and off entirely for an extra hour a day.