The measures contemplated in Royal Decree-Law 14/2022, of August 1, are already in force, which we call the decree on limiting the temperature; a name that we assign thanks to its article 29 that precisely contemplates a restriction of temperatures in heating and air conditioning systems. This provision brings together a battery of measures for saving, energy efficiency, and reducing energy dependence on natural gas.
What does it consist of, which sectors does it affect and what criteria guide its application? These are part of the questions that we will try to answer briefly below.
What is the decree on limiting the temperature in air conditioning equipment?
As we said, within the framework of the aforementioned legal instrument, Article 29 stands out, entitled Shock Plan for energy savings and management in air conditioning. Next, we summarize it emphasizing the points that interest us.
From the outset, in section one, appears the provision that has generated comments of all kinds. In this, limits are imposed on the air temperature in conditioned living spaces included in Technical Instruction 3.8.1 of the Regulation of Thermal Installations in Buildings (RITE). Within these spaces, the heating may not exceed 19ºC and the air conditioning shall not have a value less than 27ºC. The purpose of such temperature conditions will be to maintain relative humidity between 30% and 70%. This is the key to the decree on limiting the temperature.
Later on, the text clarifies that these temperature terms are exclusively applicable during the use, operation, and maintenance of the thermal installation, as a measure to save energy. Also, the same article urges adjusting the temperature limits indicated according to the case. The purpose of this will be to comply with the provisions of Royal Decree 486/1997, of April 14, which establishes the minimum safety and health provisions in the workplace.
On the contrary, those venues that justify the need to maintain particular environmental conditions or have a specific regulation that establishes their parameters are not obliged to comply with said temperature limitations. Therefore, it is essential that there is a physical separation between the premises and the adjoining premises that must follow the exposed conditions.
Information on measures and advance inspections
Apart from the above, habitable premises subject to restrictions must inform through posters or screens the measures applied to contribute to energy saving:
- Limit values of air temperatures and humidity.
- Opening and closing doors.
- Inspection and maintenance regimes are regulated in the RITE.
Said means of diffusion must be visible from the entrance or access to the buildings and in the locations where there are the visualization devices referred to in the I.T. mentioned.
Moreover, the buildings and premises with access from the street included in the scope of the decree on limiting the temperature will have an automatic door-closing system. The purpose is to prevent them from remaining open and producing energy waste due to air leaks to the outside.
Finally, all facilities included in the scope of application of the first section are required to comply with energy efficiency inspections. Specifically, those provided for in IT 4.2.1 and IT 4.2.2. Those venues whose last inspection occurred prior to January 1, 2021, must punctually advance their next inspection to comply with such obligations before December 1, 2022. The objective is that, by this date, the required facilities have passed for such an inspection in the last two years.
Where is the decree on limiting the temperature applicable?
Now, what are those facilities included in the I.T. 3.8 of the RITE obliged to comply with the provision at hand? Specifically, those buildings and premises intended for uses:
- Commercial, such as: shops, supermarkets, department stores, shopping centers and the like.
- Those closed places of public attendance. Specifically, we have:
- Cultural: cinemas, theaters, congress centers, auditoriums, exhibition halls and the like.
- Establishments of public shows and recreational activities.
- Restoration: bars, restaurants and cafeterias.
- Transportation of people: stations and airports.
And where does this rule not apply?
However, the decree on limiting the temperature has its exceptions. The lines above indicate that those facilities that require maintaining particular temperature conditions or are governed by their own regulations are exempt from complying with it. For this purpose, the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge published a guide detailing the conditions and establishments in which the rule does not apply:
Those premises in which it is essential to maintain certain temperatures due to working conditions and the specific needs of the productive sector to which they belong. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry.
Training centers: schools, universities, nurseries, etc.
Health care centers and hospitals.
Hairdressers, gyms, and laundries.
Interior compartments of means of transport: planes, ships, trains, and buses.
Hotel rooms, because these are privately regulated. But it does apply to the other areas of the hotel, such as restaurants, cafeterias, and common areas.
Likewise, the residential sector will be exempt from complying with this decree.
Main application criteria of the decree on limiting the air conditioning temperature
Certainly, the main criterion that the Government took into account when developing this provision of a temporary nature is that of saving energy. This was reflected in the explanatory memorandum of the Royal Decree-Law that we analyzed when considering that said savings is the shortest and most economical way to face the current energy crisis and reduce bills. For this reason, efficiency measures such as the Article 29 Plan help to achieve more comfortable buildings with lower consumption; as well as to promote the competitiveness of the productive sector and better preparation of this for the coming winter.
From this perspective, the air conditioning of spaces is one of the aspects that offers the greatest potential for savings because in it it is feasible to apply energy management and conservation measures that provide immediate savings. Each degree lower or higher than that set in the decree on limiting the temperature of air conditioning and heating implies an increase in consumption by 7%.
But beyond the savings, there is another very significant justification: the lower the consumption for air conditioning, the energy dependence will also decrease. As a result of the current war between Russia and Ukraine, the prices of natural gas and oil skyrocketed. On the other hand, the supply of these fuels is being affected and a good part of the electricity in Spain is still generated using them.
Undoubtedly, another benefit of the decree will be the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the use of air conditioning equipment.
How long will the decree on limiting the temperature be in force?
The temperature limitations contemplated in the decree entered into force on August 9 and will be valid until November 1, 2023.