Omnibus prik

AU to turn down the heat to 19° C

Public-sector institutions have been directed to turn down the heat to 19° C from 1 October this year. This was announced at a press conference on energy supply for the coming winter held by the government on Thursday afternoon. And to make it easier for students to pay their bills, the ceiling on maximum permissible earnings for SU recipients has been raised, and the most vulnerable students will receive tax-free checks.

This winter, you may need a fuzzy sweater and a hot cup of tea to stay warm on campus. All public-sector institutions – including Aarhus University – have been directed to turn the heat down to 19° C, as part of the energy conservation plan the government announced at a press conference on Thursday. Photo: Colourbox

If you’ve never heard the old Dean Martin song “Baby it’s cold outside”, you may want to add it to your playlist. Because it’s the perfect theme song for your winter. At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, energy minister Dan Jørgensen made it very clear that Denmark will have to conserve energy this winter to protect the energy supply. And the public sector has to set an example, the minister said.

Starting on October 1st, the thermostats in all public-sector buildings have to be turned down to 19° C. (For all you Americans, that’s just a hair above 66 degrees Fahrenheit.) Normally, as the minister explained, thermostats are set at between 21 and 23 degrees Celsius. However, hospitals, nursing homes and daycare centers don’t have to turn down the heat. At the same time, the heating season has been postponed, which means radiators can only be turned on when the indoor temperature falls below 19° C. All ‘unnecessary’ outdoor lighting around public sector buildings will also be switched off; according to the minister, this means all lighting that serves no practical function, for example spotlights on the facade of a building just because it looks cool.

The background for the energy conservation plan announced at the press conference is the turmoil on the gas market caused by the war in Ukraine, which has sent electricity prices skyrocketing. At the press conference, the government stressed that while Denmark is not facing an energy supply crisis at present, the risk of energy shortages is real, particularly if we have an extremely cold winter.

AU turned down the heat in 2020 too

Back in 2020, the university turned down the heat on its own initiative – to a maximum indoor temperature of 21 ° C. In some buildings, this was three or four degrees colder than staff were used to. This step was taken to help the university reduce its climate footprint. A room temperature of 21 ° C is smack in the middle of the 20-22 degree temperature range recommended by the Danish Working Environment Authority for sedentary work. The Danish Working Environment Authority’s minimum recommended room temperatures for a sedentary workplace is 18° C.

Help on the way for SU recipients

The rising energy prices will hit most households hard – particularly if you’re already on a tight budget, like students on SU. To help these students, a broad coalition drafted a compensation package that includes measures to help SU recipients cope with rising costs. The package has just been voted through by the parliament.

SU recipients can now earn up to 4,000 kroner more a month to supplement their SU grants and loans. The maximum amount you can earn from your student job has been increased, so now you can earn 17,876 kroner a month and still get the full SU amount. This applies retroactively from 1 January 2022, and for 2023.  

What’s more, SU recipients who receive a disability supplement or single breadwinner supplements will receive an extra one-off payment: a tax-free check for 2,000 kroner.

In a press release, the higher education minister Jesper Petersen has this to say about the compensation package:

“Of course, it’s not going to solve the challenges, but it’s a part of the solution, especially for groups with the lowest incomes. At the beginning of next year, SU will be increased across the board due to the regulation mechanisms that are in place, and which will compensate for the rising prices.”

Translated by Lenore Messick