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ENERGY

How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

With energy costs continuing to rise, in Austria many people are reluctant to use air conditioning in their apartments this summer. Here’s how to keep your apartment cool without breaking the bank.

How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices
Property buying rules in Tyrol and Vorarlberg are stricter for foreigners than in other parts of Austria. Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

It’s a well-known fact that air conditioning units are expensive to run – and even more so this year with spiralling energy costs.

But with temperatures in Austria already hitting the mid-30s on some days, apartment dwellers are starting to feel the heat.

What are the alternatives to air conditioning? Here’s what you need to know.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Use a fan

An electrical fan might not cool the air down as much as an air conditioning system but it is significantly cheaper to run. 

Der Standard reports that a fan uses 95 percent less energy than a mobile AC unit with an average cost of just €7 per summer (based on 60 days of use).

Whereas a mobile air conditioning unit could cost €170 in additional electricity costs.

Close blinds and curtains

One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to cool down an apartment is to keep all blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep out the heat.

In Vienna, there are even government subsidies available to purchase external blinds and shutters for an apartment. Although permission from a landlord is required for rental properties.

The City of Vienna website has more information about this scheme.

Hang up wet laundry

A top tip to cool down a hot apartment is to hang up wet laundry to dry.

As the clothes dry, evaporation removes heat from the air which cools down the room. Plus, it saves more money on energy bills by not using a tumble dryer.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Austria this summer

Wear clothing made from natural fibres

Wearing natural fibres is one of the best ways to stay cool in hot weather.

This means wearing clothing made from cotton, linen, silk, bamboo, lyocell or merino wool.

Bamboo and lyocell are also sustainable crops, so buying clothes made from these fibres is better for the environment too (as long as it’s from FSC-certified wood).

Drink lots of water

This is an obvious one, but it works.

Always drink plenty of water during hot weather – even when inside an apartment – as this will help to keep your body temperature down.

Additionally, try to eat a light diet during times of high temperatures, such as salads and vegetables.

READ MORE: Vienna to handout €200 payments to counter rising energy costs

Use a damp cloth

If it gets really hot at night, try using a cool damp cloth to cool the neck.

It won’t have the same effect as crisp air conditioning, but it will help to cool you down.

Last resort

If there really is no other option than air conditioning then try to use it sparingly. For example, just for a few hours at night.

Mobile air conditioning units are the most expensive with approximately 8kWh of electricity consumed during an eight hour period. However, these are easy to source at hardware stores and are simple to install.

Split units (with indoor and outdoor compartments) are cheaper to run but need to be installed by a specialist and usually require permission from a landlord. These devices use around 40 to 50 percent less energy than a mobile unit.

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COST OF LIVING

Austria looking to cut energy bills in old residential buildings

The Austrian government is planning to reduce gas bills for people who rent Altbau apartments, one of the measures to cushion rising prices.

Austria looking to cut energy bills in old residential buildings

Austria has plans to reduce gas bills for people renting an Altbau, or old buildings, which often fall under rent control laws.

Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) is looking into how a price reduction for gas heating could be implemented after the idea was floated by Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens), broadcaster ORF reported.

READ ALSO: ENERGY CRISIS: Will Austria have enough gas for winter?

“The tenants get a high bill but have zero leeway to change their heating system themselves,” Kogler told Austrian media.

Austria’s ÖVP leading party said there is “no ban on thinking” and any idea should be debated and evaluated.

The old residential apartments have a central heating system and tenants cannot adjust it themselves. At the same time, Kogler wants to create incentives for apartment building owners and landlords to convert to renewable heating systems.

Opposition parties divided

The SPÖ is in favour of the measures, while right-wing FPÖ says they make “tenancy law even more confusing”.

Unsurprisingly, the landowners’ association (ÖHGB) said they saw Kogler’s proposal as impractical populism. Furthermore, they complain that changing the heating source is not an easy matter in Austria, where many options, such as heat pumps or district heating, are not available everywhere.

READ ALSO: Where are energy prices going up (again) in Austria?

There are currently around 250,000 apartments in Altbau buildings, most of them in the capital Vienna, and heated with gas.

Rising energy prices

The costs of gas (and electricity) are increasing in Austria, as The Local reported. State-run distributors EVN and Wien Energie announced earlier this month that prices were set to go up as of September.

In Lower Austria, around 50 percent of EVN consumers should expect to pay at least €100 more monthly. The hike will affect those on a “classic tariff”.

READ ALSO: Five of the biggest challenges facing Austria right now

At Wien Energie, electricity prices will go up by €36 a month (based on an annual consumption of 2,000 kWh), and gas prices will increase by €60 a month (based on 8,000 kWh). However, those with a price guarantee or floating tariff will not be affected.

Austria is looking to cushion the increasing costs for its population and is working on an electricity price cap. Earlier this year, the government sent out €150 energy vouchers people could use to get a discount on their yearly energy bills.

Regionally, similar measures have already been taken, especially in Lower Austria, where a €250 million funding plan was recently announced.

Vienna has announced an extensive package with one-off payments of €200 and structural measures that will benefit more than one million residents in the Austrian capital, as The Local reported.

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