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Italy tells residents to turn down the heat to combat energy crisis

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Italy tells residents to turn down the heat to combat energy crisis
Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP.

Italy said thermostats must be turned down by one degree this winter as part of an EU-wide plan to cut gas consumption, faced with spiralling prices spurred by Russia's war in Ukraine.

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The temperature in industrial buildings will be set at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and in others at 19C, both one degree lower than current guidelines, the ministry for the ecological transition announced on Tuesday.

The time the heating can be on is also being shortened, by one hour a day and 15 days across the year, as part of a plan to cut energy consumption by 15 percent between August 1 and March 31.

Hospitals, care homes, primary schools and nurseries will be exempt from the measures, as will the most northerly regions, while the cuts will be greatest in the warmer south.

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Levels of energy use in public buildings and residential blocks will be monitored to see how the measures are being implemented, and the ministry called on individuals to play their part.

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"The goal is to promote conscious and intelligent behaviour," it said, highlighting the goal of not just reducing demand for gas but also cutting utility bills.

The government is expected to ask households to turn down the heat by one degree and use it for an hour less each day, according to reports.

A new awareness campaign will also urge people to spend less time in the shower - and run it slightly colder - to disconnect electrical appliances while not in use and wait for a full load to turn on the dishwasher or washing machine.

Before the war in Ukraine triggered a change in approach, Italy imported 95 percent of the gas it consumes - about 45 percent of which came from Russia.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi has signed new deals with other gas producers to reduce Italy's reliance on Russia, lowered to 25 percent as of June, while accelerating a shift towards renewable energies.

His government has also pledged around 52 billion euros ($52 billion) to help households and businesses cope with soaring prices.

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