German city of Hanover bans hot showers in public buildings in reaction to Russian gas crisis

Sweeping gas rationing measures will affect the day-to-day lives of many German people. Credit: AP

The German city of Hanover has turned off the heating and switched to cold showers in all public buildings in an attempt to save energy after Russia further cut gas supplies to central European countries.

Germans have been told to brace for widespread gas reduction measures amid accusations that Moscow is waging a "gas war" against Europe, with Vladimir Putin said to be effectively attempting to blackmail European nations for supporting Ukraine.

Becoming the first major city to do so, officials in Hanover have said that hot water won't be available for handwashing in public buildings, swimming pool showers, sport halls and gyms.

There will also be no night-time lights on major buildings, including museums and the town hall, with public fountains to be switched off to conserve energy.

Hanover is the first big city to turn off the hot water because of the Russian gas crisis. Credit: AP

Banning portable air conditioners, heaters and radiators, replacing permanent lighting with motion detectors in toilet facilities and limiting the room temperature in daycare centres to 20 degrees are among the other measures.

The announcements come after EU members on Tuesday approved a proposal for all the bloc's countries to voluntarily reduce gas use by 15% from August to March.

Hanover Mayor Belit Onay said the aim of the measures was to cut the northern city's energy consumption by 15%, which matches the bloc-wide goal to reduce dependency on Russian gas.

"This is a reaction to the impending gas shortage, which poses a big challenge for the municipalities - especially for a big city like Hannover," he wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.

"The situation is unpredictable, as the last few days have shown. The state capital is still trying to prepare as best as possible.

"We see ourselves in charge here and must move forward. Every kilowatt-hour saved saves gas storage."

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Russian gas supplies reportedly now account for around a quarter of Germany's needs, as opposed to the more than half before the invasion in late February.

The mayor's comments came after Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would limit supplies to the EU through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity.

This heightened concerns that Putin would use gas trade to challenge the bloc’s opposition to the war.

Gazprom has cut gas supplies altogether to Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland over their refusal to go along with a Kremlin order to pay their bills in roubles and not dollars or euros.