One of the consequences of Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine taking place on the other side of Latvia’s borders, has been to precipitate what is shaping to be a real energy crisis, after a dramatic rise in energy prices affecting every single resident of Riga city. This winter, Riga residents are struggling to keep their houses properly heated, andhave difficulty  paying their energy bills, making energy poverty one of the most pressing social issues of our time.

Also, the Riga City Municipality has adopted various energy-saving measures both in the municipal buildings and in the urban environment, hoping to reduce energy consumption of municipal institutions at least by 15%. Namely, the interior air temperature at all municipal buildings is set to 20°C during working hours, and to 16°C at night or on holidays. The operation of ventilation systems is controlled, the use of air conditioners is limited, and uneconomical bulbs are replaced with LED bulbs. Facade lighting of municipal buildings is switched off between 00:00 a.m. and 05:00 a.m. Also, municipal employees are encouraged to change their current habits by monitoring for instance whether lighting is turned off where it is not needed, whether water is used sparingly or electric appliances are switched off and chargers are not left in sockets when they are not in use.

Part of the lighting is switched off in many public locations, including streets. Lighting is switched off entirely at night between 03:00 a.m. and 04:00 a.m. except parks, tunnels, pedestrian walkways, and locations in which turning off lighting would increase the risk of criminal activity. As a result, since the beginning of the current heating season 19,673 megawatt-hours of energy resources in the amount of over 2 million euros have already been saved. In some municipal buildings, total energy savings have reached as much as 50% compared to winter 2021. Meanwhile, the average consumption of heat energy in municipal buildings decreased by 14% while the average consumption of electricity and water slightly increased. Considering that thermal energy makes up more than 60% of the total expenses, the achieved results can be evaluated as promising. However, municipal energy efficiency specialists are further analysing them to identify the shortcomings and propose corrective measures.

No less important is that these energy management and energy saving measures are creating new, valuable habits of energy behaviour – for which the municipality thanks all involved employees.

Author: Nika Kotoviča, City of Riga

Picture Credits: Valts Kleins