Many municipalities and municipalities have closed the public swimming pools and sauna areas until further notice. It is becoming increasingly difficult for German citizens to go to the sauna or swimming pool. FOCUS online says what you need to know.

The Stadtwerke München closed all sauna areas in the municipal swimming pools at the beginning of August. In addition, the water temperature in all public swimming pools in the city was lowered by one degree to 26 degrees. In the swimming pools used by schools and in the warm water outdoor pools, it will be 28 instead of 30 degrees in the future.

Most of the saunas in the municipal swimming pools in Schleswig-Holstein are also closed. These include, for example, in Schleswig, Rendsburg and Eckernförde. The regulation applies until at least next March 2023. Here, too, the hot water temperature in the swimming pools will be reduced to 26 degrees.

In Cologne, the pool companies have already lowered the temperature by at least three degrees in some outdoor pools, which are usually heated to 30 degrees. Elsewhere, this is not so easy, as the managing director of KölnBäder GmbH, Claudia Heckmann, emphasizes.

Are the measures sufficient? Energy prices are exploding. Sauna facilities and swimming pools consume a lot of electricity, which drives up the costs. The German Sauna Association had already asked for support for the companies and employees in an open letter to Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck in July. According to a survey by the association, every fourth facility sees itself economically threatened by the energy crisis. The Sauna Association has over 1,200 members, including public and private facilities.

Apparently, the action with the open letter came to nothing.

More and more municipal utilities have closed their public sauna landscapes or are about to do so. “I cannot imagine that gas consumption in the leisure sector will simply continue during the winter given the extremely high energy prices,” emphasizes Klaus Müller, President of the Federal Network Agency in an interview with the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”.

Municipal swimming pools are usually a subsidy business, explains a spokesman for the German Association of Towns and Municipalities in Berlin – and are generally very energy-intensive. If energy costs continue to rise, the question arises as to how much the subsidy should be increased. “We’ll have to take stock at some point: Can you still afford it?”

“Our recommendation is to keep the pools open for as long as possible and to leave it up to the companies how they handle their pool operations,” says Klaus Batz, Managing Director of the European Waterpark Association (EWA).

“There may be some who will decide we need to reduce supply. There may also be some who say we have to close at least temporarily.” The pools are currently still full, says the EWA boss. “But we certainly don’t have easy times ahead of us. You have to say that openly.” Even during the corona pandemic, the companies had a difficult time. Now, in addition to the uncertainty about the next wave of the virus, there is also the energy crisis.

Private providers of sauna facilities, wellness centres, spa offers and indoor swimming pools emphasize that they have been saving energy since this summer. Individual sauna cabins that are not used are closed.

Private swimming pools and thermal baths also want to remain open in autumn and winter. Here, too, savings concepts are already being implemented. This reduces the temperature in the outdoor and indoor pools. In the showers, the hot water is two degrees colder.

At the same time, most companies are reducing the hot water temperature by two degrees. From the point of view of the industry, however, lower water temperatures to save costs are in principle not a real solution. “Two important groups of visitors are children and older people,” says the EWA Managing Director. “If you lower the temperature in the tank, eventually they won’t come anymore.”

In order to save energy, the opening times will also be adjusted. It is possible that businesses will only be open all day between Thursday and Sunday.

After all, the industry makes targeted use of energy-efficient systems. These include, for example, the so-called combined heat and power plants (CHP). The special systems generate electricity and heat at the same time, which in turn can be used at the same time.

Operators also use the warm sauna exhaust air to heat all rooms in the same and neighboring buildings.

Entry prices for sauna facilities and indoor swimming pools could rise in autumn.

“Of course, with the upcoming cost increases, it will be difficult,” said Claudia Heckmann, Managing Director of Kölnbaeder GmbH. “We can’t pass this on to customers 1:1, but we’ll certainly think about it in the fall.”

According to EWA Managing Director Batz, companies that have already raised prices are an exception. “We also have to take into account that the wallets of the guests are getting emptier for other reasons.”