Businesses set for a sweltering summer
By Kim Rahn
Seoul’s city government wants businesses to save energy during the summer by enduring indoor temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius or above.
But how effective the measure will be is yet to be seen, as there will be no financial penalties for those who use air conditioning heavily to cool their environment. They will however be named on a public listing.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Thursday it will monitor how well people abide by the rule and may come up with other measures, including fines.
It is part of the city’s long-term plan to save electricity.
“The central government has implemented similar temperature regulations, but they were temporary measures applied only when demand for electricity soared. Seoul City is the first municipality to set an ordinance about indoor temperature and to enforce it regularly every summer and winter,” a city official said.
Buildings using more than 100 kilowatts of electricity per hour are subject to the temperature limit along with businesses that use more than 2,000 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) of energy per year and shops and restaurants in buildings co-used for residence and commerce.
Such facilities will have to keep the temperature at 26 degrees or over between June and September, and at 20 degrees or lower from November to March.
Apartments, factories, medical institutions, welfare facilities, kindergartens and places of religious gathering will be exempt.
The city council is expected to pass the ordinance in early June and if passed, it will immediately take effect, according to the official.
The city government believes businesses will respond positively to the drive and choose to protect their reputations.
“We’ll make public the names of buildings or facilities using greater energy than similar-size ones or those not following the temperature rule. If citizens develop a general understanding on energy saving and temperature regulation, such name disclosure will be more effective than monetary penalties,” the official said.
Some worry that citizens may keep the air-conditioning temperature at 26 degrees and instead use electric fans simultaneously, resulting in more energy use. The official said, “People may do so at the beginning of the regulation. But if the temperature observation becomes part of daily life, we believe citizens will voluntarily keep the temperature within an endurable level.”