If you've traveled to Russia in the summertime or know anyone who has lived in Russia for an extended period, you're probably familiar with how cities will temporarily shut off hot water service to residences for a week or two during the summer months. To those who take the ability to shower or bathe in hot water for granted, this practice can seem barbaric – especially, if the water shut off happens shortly after the spring thaw, the water coming out of the taps is very cold.
So why does this happen and how does it affect travelers?
Why Hot Water Service is Shut Off in Russia
In Russian cities, heat and hot water are provided centrally rather than from individual hot water heaters or furnace units. During the winter months in Russia, hot water is pumped into homes to keep them warm. In warm weather, this service is no longer needed. After the heating service is canceled for the summer months, annual maintenance occurs, during which time hot water will be shut off for a couple of weeks. Sectors of the city will see hot water shut off at different times so that one section of the city will see hot water service resume before another one sees it stopped. Residents and any business affected are usually aware of when their hot water will be shut off ahead of time.
How Does Hot Water Service Shut Off Affect Travelers to Russia?
Travelers Staying in Hotels
Ideally, the hot water service shut off will not affect travelers staying in Russian hotels.
Most hotels in large Russian cities have their own water heaters to provide hot water to guests year round and do not rely on the hot water service provided to private residences. If you are concerned about not having hot water during your stay in a Russian hotel, contact the hotel prior to booking your stay to ask about this.
Travelers Staying in Private Residences
Travelers staying with friends may or may not have to deal with the annual hot water shut off. In affluent or major metropolitan areas, apartments may be outfitted with water heaters, or flat owners may have purchased heaters for themselves. In case the flat you are staying in does not have a hot water heater, you don't have to bathe using cold water only.