The Hungarian government on Thursday ordered all ministries to reduce gas consumption by 25 percent and limited heating in public institutions to 18-degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit).
“Gas consumption must be reduced. The government will start saving itself, therefore the Hungarian government, with the exception of hospitals and social institutions, imposed a 25 percent gas reduction for state bodies and state-owned economic companies,” announced government spokesman Gergely Gulyás on Thursday.
The minister said that Hungary has the largest utility bill support program in Europe, where the average monthly support is 150,000 forints (€380). He added that “we are determined to be able to maintain this.”
The minister also said that the government is announcing a firewood and brown coal program, starting next week, which allows consumers to buy wood not only from retailers but also directly from forestry farms.
“The energy supply situation is extremely difficult throughout Europe; a crisis situation has arisen as a result of rising prices. The sanctions policy did not live up to expectations; instead, Russia gained extra profit,” said Gulyás.
The government also decided that all apartments heated with district heating should be equipped with a heat consumption meter. According to the minister, today there are around 130,000 to 140,000 properties that do not have meters, and these will receive meters at the expense of the utility companies.
Answering a question about the European Commission’s plan to cap Russian gas prices, Gulyás said the Hungarian government does not fully understand commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s proposal, since the prices are set by the market. He added that all prices would be halved if sanctions against Russia were lifted tomorrow.
“Europe is not self-sustaining in terms of gas, so it makes no sense to talk about a price cap, but we await the full proposals,” he added.