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ENERGY

EXPLAINED: Why you should hold off on buying electric heaters in Switzerland

The soaring temperatures mean that heating might not be the first thing on your mind, but as the natural gas shortage is threatening Swiss households next winter, more people are purchasing electric heaters for their homes.

EXPLAINED: Why you should hold off on buying electric heaters in Switzerland
Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)

Countries around Europe are preparing for the possibility of a difficult winter without Russian gas supply.

In Switzerland, many people are stocking up on electric radiators – Digitec Galaxus online retailer has recorded an explosion in sales of these devices — an increase of 370 percent in June compared to last year.

But if they are all used, there will be severe consequences for the domestic power supply, according to the SonntagsZeitung.

Michael Frank, director of the Association of Swiss Electric Companies (VSE), warns consumers that this rush will likely adversely affect the electricity supply.

READ ALSO: ‘It could hit us hard’: Switzerland prepares for impending gas shortage

If emergency electric heaters replace the gas heaters, “electricity consumption will increase massively when the situation is already tense,” he told the Swiss weekly paper.

Electric heaters are regarded as energy guzzlers, and there have been attempts to ban or phase them out, as The Local reported. Frank told SonntagsZeitung that using thousands of electric emergency heaters could “lead to a great instability for Switzerland’s energy balance”.

The VSE director fears electricity consumption will “increase massively” due to the use of the devices. “Then we would have a big problem not only with gas, but soon also electricity.”

READ ALSO: How is Switzerland is preparing for power outages this winter?

Around 300,000 households in Switzerland are heated with gas and authorities are scrambling to find a way to deal with the projected gas shortages.

The Federal Office for State Supply (BWL) stated that the Federal Council would deal with this issue “soon.”

What is the situation looking like for winter?

Though the possibility that Swiss households will have to turn down the heat is not ruled out, the government wants to first switch from gas to oil and incentivise businesses to make the swap immediately.

In the event of an actual shortage, consumption restrictions may be ordered, such as restrictions on heating unoccupied buildings. In addition, the switching to biofuel could be imposed by ordinance, the authorities say.

If electricity shortages were to become severe, the Organisation for Electricity Supply in Extraordinary Situations (Ostral) would activate a four-step procedure, according to Ostral’s director, Lukas Küng.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?

As a first step, the Federal Council will call on the population (individuals and businesses alike) to voluntarily reduce their electricity consumption.

If this is not enough, consumption restrictions will be imposed. Among them would be the ban on operating ski lifts and limits on other infrastructures that use up a lot of electricity — for instance, reduction in public lighting and the public transport system.

In the worst-case scenario, “network operators will cyclically cut off power in some areas for a certain period,” Küng said.

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ENERGY

Petrol prices fall in Switzerland — but will they continue to drop?

Switzerland’s consumers have not had any good news in months, as the cost of living has been increasing practically across all categories. But there is a positive development nevertheless.

Petrol prices fall in Switzerland — but will they continue to drop?

Swiss motorists might have noticed that the price of fuel at the pump has fallen slightly, from more than 2 francs per litre of unleaded 95 throughout the summer and at the beginning of September.

Market analysis carried out by Touring Club Suisse (TCS) motoring organisation confirms this trend.

Currently, a litre of unleaded 95 in Swiss filling stations costs on average 1.92 francs — around 15 cents less than at the beginning of September and 39 cents less than during the historic record in June.

Will this downward trend last?

For the moment, industry experts are not making any predictions, either way.

That’s because the price at the pump depends not only on the price of crude oil, but also on other factors, according to TCS.

They include — aside from geopolitical evolution in eastern Europe — transport costs, production rate, and the rate of the dollar.

Is it still cheaper to fuel up your car in neighbouring countries?

When the price of petrol exceeded 2 francs per litre in Switzerland, it made sense to buy gasoline across the border, especially when the franc gained strength against the euro in August. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What the weakening euro means for Switzerland’s residents

It may still be worthwhile, depending on the country.

In Germany, for instance, a litre of unleaded 95 costs on average 1.992, which is equivalent to the new price in Switzerland, according to TCS.

On the other hand, prices are lower in Italy (1.757), Austria (1.764), and, above all, France (1.57).

This TCS chart indicates per-litre prices in all European countries, which may help you decide were to buy petrol.

As for the cost of other energy sources, it is not expected to decrease any time  soon: on the contrary, forecasts call for higher prices.

READ MORE: Swiss government confirms ‘sharp increase’ in electricity prices

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