by Thierry Roussin
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During a television interview on July 14, the President of the Republic expressed his fear that in the winter of 2022-2023 he will have to suffer from a shortage of energy carriers. To achieve a 10% reduction in our consumption over two years, Emmanuel Macron envisages an energy sobriety plan, the content of which is still unknown.
Fading of signs at night
It should include a lighting component of shop windows and professional premises which is already the subject of a text from 2013, updated in 2018. He explains that “the lights in the windows of trade or exhibition stores are turned off no later than one o’clock in the morning (…) they can be turned on from 7 in the morning or an hour before the event.” Illumination of building facades must be turned off no later than 1 a.m.
With the exception of municipal installations, the mayor enforces control and may impose fines of up to €750 for incorrect lighting installations.
Close the shop door
If the directive can integrate President Macron’s plan, mayors have already issued orders to force businesses that use air conditioning to close their front doors. It’s unbelievable that it had to come to this! After Bourg-en-Bresse, Lyon and Besançon, Paris has just taken this decision because “these abnormal practices must end in the current context of the climate emergency and the energy crisis,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo wrote on Twitter. The fine will be 150 euros.
In L’Aigle, Mayor Philippe Van-Horn has no plans to attend.
It is common sense to close the doors of an air-conditioned business. It’s like heating outdoor terraces in the middle of winter, it’s ridiculous.” Regarding this topic and regarding the windows that would not be extinguished in time, the mayor admits that “before sanctioning, it is better to communicate.
Energy sobriety, “we’ll discuss it at our next office meeting because it’s very important,” says Arnaud Francois, president of the trade union L’Aigle Shopping. “Ahead of this, we will be sending an email to all members to inform them of these issues.” The president admits that his car dealership doesn’t have air conditioning, “because it’s not very useful and we can get hurt a little bit, it’s not too serious.”
Like traders, individuals will have to contribute to these efforts by providing incentives to reduce heating by one degree and improve home insulation.
Energy audit in the city
Necessary efforts will also concern local authorities. In L’Aigle, the process has already begun, as “we are now finalizing the installation of 87 windows in the town hall”, notes the mayor.
We have also launched an energy audit of all our buildings to see where the emergency situations are. The aim is also to list the places that are not used, but which are nevertheless heated and lit. There will be interesting savings.
Large retailers will turn off signage
The Journal du Dimanche recently published a column by the bosses of EDF, Engie and TotalEnergies calling for energy sobriety.
During this, 84 business leaders distributed a text calling for energy sobriety not to be an emergency response, but rather to be used as a paradigm shift.
Now, it’s the mass distribution players who are coming together on the crisis protocol, which is due to be implemented on October 15. The heads of the biggest brands, E.Leclerc, Carrefour, Système U, Intermarché & Netto, Auchan, Casino, Franprix, Monoprix, Lidl, Picard, signed this protocol together with the desire to participate in joint work. Their work, which began on June 30, led to the identification of general and specific measures for retail brands to reduce energy consumption and avoid cuts announced in the event of a crisis.
It was decided to turn off the illuminated signs immediately after closing the store, to systematize the reduction of light intensity with a 50% decrease in the illumination of the trading hall before the arrival of visitors. It is also planned to stop air renewal at night and delay the formation of ice.
In addition, this protocol contains daily measures, as well as emergency measures that will be initiated, if necessary, and as soon as a critical peak is known to occur, known several days in advance and determined by the regulatory body, for example, reducing the temperature of all points of sale at an ambient air temperature of up to 17° during peak hours,” the signatories note in the press release.
The electricity bill was 30% of the profit before the recent spike in the cost of electricity. “Given the doubling of perceived costs from 2023, these businesses risk being weakened, and therefore prices should rise. Therefore, it is important to reduce the energy bill and join forces to avoid too much impact on consumer prices.”
Public lighting, risk of further decline
For several years, instructions have been given to the city hall to turn off the lights and be environmentally responsible. “The deficit risks associated with the war in Ukraine require us to be very careful,” Philip Van-Horn continues. “In 2022, we are still working under the old contracts signed before the crisis, but with the renewal in 2023, we do not know where we are going at all. Perhaps it will be multiplied by two or three, and since we are obliged to balance the budget, we will have to save.”
Currently, to save money, public lighting is turned off for part of the night, and there is a temptation to reduce the effective lighting time even more. “The problem is that it’s not that simple. Total darkness is not necessarily good for morale, so you should avoid death. There is also the risk of creating a feeling of insecurity in certain sectors of the city, and if we do reduce the time of lighting, it should not be uniform.”
Reduce heat by 1 degree
Among the bans of the energy sobriety plan that Emmanuel Macron wants will undoubtedly be a one-degree reduction in indoor heating.
One degree less means a 7% saving on your heating bill, that’s important, and you’ll have to get used to 19 degrees instead of 20. If we have a little less heat this winter and have energy to run a business, it won’t be a big deal.
The new attitude required by the energy sobriety plan should free us from dependence on Russia. But if, as everyone apparently hopes, the war in Ukraine ends quickly and inflation falls, “we will have to maintain our new behavior, which is such a big environmental benefit.”
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