Air conditioning limits met with skepticism and frustration by businesses

Many customers and passengers surveyed were in favor of the regulation, citing comfort and environmental reasons

Passengers wait in Sants train station in Barcelona, where the thermometer reads 27 degrees (by Aina Martí)
Passengers wait in Sants train station in Barcelona, where the thermometer reads 27 degrees (by Aina Martí) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 10, 2022 04:17 PM

New limits on the use of air conditioning in public places came into force on Wednesday, aiming at reducing energy consumption amid rising prices and the possible threat of losing access to energy due to the Russian war in Ukraine.

However, business owners and residents looking to cool down have met the new regulation with skepticism and frustration

Merchants and restaurateurs complained to the Catalan News Agency that 27°C is too high a temperature. Some restaurants even claimed that by setting these temperature limits, the refrigerators now "use more electricity." 

“It's very hot, let's see if people come or not,” Roman, manager of a home goods store in the Glòries shopping center, said. “The place hardly cools down," he complained. “We do up our shop windows and we move around a lot," he pointed out. 

Sílvia, a shoe store worker, was grateful for the measure. "I'm wearing a scarf, I tolerate the heat quite well," she said.

In the Glòries shopping centre, most premises surveyed claimed to be complying with the new regulation, but the feeling of temperature varied greatly from one store to another. 

Criticism of the move was harsher among restaurateurs. "We are using more electricity and losing business," said Victor Chumilla, owner of A Brasa in the Catalan capital. He explained that refrigerators use "much more" energy when the ambient temperature outside them is high. "It is more forced, generates much more heat, and consumes much more electricity," he argued.

In addition, Chumilla pointed out that in the case of bars and restaurants, ovens and grills are at very high temperatures and often, as in his case, share space with the dining room. "Inside the kitchen, it can reach almost 50 degrees," he claimed. 

“We must contribute”

On the other hand, some customers in businesses were grateful that it was not so cold in the establishments in the middle of summer, as such a drastic contrast in temperature can sometimes cause discomfort. There were those who were grateful that the stores stopped abusing the air conditioning. 

Yet, there were also those who recognized that going shopping was, before now, an excuse to cool off. "I prefer the temperature to be low when you enter the store and not have the sweltering heat outside," said Juanma, a customer.

At Sants train station on Wednesday, many passengers left home prepared with a sweater in case they are cold on trains, but also with a fan to beat the heat on the platforms. 

Most people surveyed by the Catalan News Agency were sympathetic to the new measure. "As citizens, we have to contribute," Mercè said, who had come to Sants station from Mataró. Another user claimed to be very much in favor of the measure for environmental reasons. "It should be maintained, if not what will happen in a few years? It will be terrible," Xesca said.