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EDITIONS
 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 14:07 GMT
Finnish saunas cause power crisis
Sauna
Finns turn up the heat as the cold begins to bite
Heavy use of saunas by Finns during a two-week long cold snap could lead to power rationing in the Nordic country.

Electricity consumption and prices have soared to record levels, so the government has called on citizens to give up one of their favourite national pastimes to cut costs.

"The suggested sauna heat is 70-80 degrees celsius," the ministry of trade and industry said.

"One hundred degrees, for example, adds up to 30% to energy costs," it said.

It also urged Finns to use wood for heating and turn off their computers.

"Playing card games and board games is the best kind of pastime for the family," the ministry said.

"The only energy you'll spend is brain energy."

Cold comfort

Local media have called the winter one of the coldest in decades after temperatures dropped to -41 celsius (-42.3 fahrenheit) in the northeast of the country and -20 in the capital Helsinki.

The cost of heating Finland's 5.2 million homes has broken previous records and prices are set to rise further when industries restart operations after the New Year's holiday break.

Finland has four nuclear plants and produces about 17% of its power by hydro-electricity but a very dry summer has left reservoirs low.

"The water reserves in Finland, Sweden and Norway are very small," said a ministry spokesman.

"If some technical failure were to occur besides this, rationing is a possibility."

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04 Dec 02 | Europe
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