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Energy crunch forces Portugal to switch off Christmas lights

When the clock strikes 12 this December, Natal will be less feliz in Portugal.

Portuguese government guidelines published late Tuesday recommend that Christmas lighting be limited to 6 p.m. to midnight, from December 6 until January 6 next year.

The plan pushes for less gloomy saving measures such as greater use of natural light and switching off interior lighting whenever the space is not in use. Air-conditioning equipment will be regulated “to a maximum of 18C in winter and a minimum of 25C in summer.” Those measures are recommended for local administrations, but will be mandatory for government-operated buildings to a large extent.

The government also has some recommendations for private citizens. They are, among others, expected to reduce “the running water time of baths and showers,” and “minimizing uses of the washing machine and dishwasher, using its maximum capacity.”

However, the government warned that in case of further pressure, the plan could “become mandatory” and include “exceptional measures.”

Several European cities have already decided to reduce lighting public buildings in an attempt to save energy.

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