The heating company, for example, Rīgas siltums in Rīga, heats only so-called technical water. It is supplied to heat nodes where the manager of each building decides how much of this heat to use to warm the water that goes further into the housing.
However, the manager may not adjust the temperature at their own discretion. Cabinet regulations regarding sanitary maintenance of residential buildings prescribe that the manager of the residential house has a duty to continuously ensure the temperature of hot water in the exit from the heat exchanger is not less than 55 degrees Celsius.
Such a minimum threshold is set for health reasons. "The water temperature, as it is currently established, is only associated with the prevention of potential proliferation of legionella [bacteria]. Because the bacteria are breeding best in water temperatures from 37 to 42 to 45 degrees," said the Health Inspectorate.
In many parts of Western Europe, water can be heated less because water networks have been upgraded in the past, allowing elimination of legionella bacteria to fight other means.
In the opinion of the health inspection expert, retreating from the 55-degree limit currently set would be risky, since there are already places in Latvia where the warm water is cooling from the heat node to the user and there is a risk that legionellae could multiply.
The possibility of reducing the 55-degree threshold at the beginning of the year was also assessed in the Energy Security Working Group of the Ministry of Economics, but because of health risks, the Ministry refused to do so.
Experts recommend that residents attempt to save in other ways, such as reducing heating by a few degrees, warming housing, or consuming less water.