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EXPLAINED: When you can switch on your heating in Italy this winter

The Local Italy
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EXPLAINED: When you can switch on your heating in Italy this winter
Some parts of Italy have to wait for December before switching on the heat. Photo: Paola Chaaya/Unsplash

Italy has rules governing when and for how long you can switch on your central heating – as well as how high you can turn it up.


There are plenty of lesser-known rules in Italy governing all sorts of aspects of everyday life, and Italy’s international residents are often particularly surprised to hear about the existence of rules on using the central heating.

In the interests of saving energy, Italy really does have rules in place which state when the heating can be turned on - and how high - in different provinces based on their average seasonal temperature.

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As you'd expect, northern and mountainous areas are the first to be allowed to switch on the heat in October, while some parts of the south can't turn up the dial until December. (Find a full list below.)

These rules are supposed to apply to every property in Italy, including independent houses and apartments with their own separate heating system (riscaldamento autonomo).

But the restrictions are in practice only enforceable in public or shared residential buildings with a single, communal boiler and a centralised heating system (riscaldamento centralizzato), such as offices, schools, hotels, and many apartment blocks.

Here the amministratore, or building manager, will be responsible for regulating when the heating comes on and off.

Which parts of Italy can switch their heating on first?

The country is divided into six zones based on climate, starting with the warmest where heating use is most limited and ending with the very coldest where central heating can be kept on round the clock, at any time of year.

The following date and time restrictions apply every year:


Zone A: December 1st to March 15th, 6 hours/day

  • Islands of Lampedusa, Linosa and Lampione 
  • Porto Empedocle

Zone B: December 1st to March 31st, 8 hours/day

  • Agrigento 
  • Catania
  • Messina 
  • Palermo 
  • Siracusa 
  • Trapani 
  • Reggio Calabria 
  • Crotone

Zone C: November 15th to March 31st, 10 hours/day

  • North-west: Imperia.
  • Centre: Latina.
  • South: Bari; Benevento; Brindisi; Cagliari; Caserta; Catanzaro; Cosenza; Lecce; Naples; Oristano; Ragusa; Salerno; Sassari; Taranto.

Zone D: November 1st to April 15th, 12 hours/day

  • North-west: Genoa; La Spezia; Savona.
  • North-east: Forlì.
  • Centre: Ancona; Ascoli Piceno; Florence; Grosseto; Livorno; Lucca; Macerata; Massa Carrara; Pesaro; Pisa; Pistoia; Prato; Rome; Siena; Terni; Viterbo.
  • South: Avellino; Caltanissetta; Chieti; Foggia; Isernia; Matera; Nuoro; Pescara; Teramo; Vibo Valentia.


Zone E: October 15th to April 15th, 14 hours/day

  • North-west: Alessandria; Aosta; Asti; Bergamo; Biella; Brescia; Como; Cremona; Lecco; Lodi; Milan; Novara; Padova; Pavia; Sondrio; Torino; Varese; Verbania; Vercelli.
  • North-east: Bologna; Bolzano; Ferrara; Gorizia; Modena; Parma; Piacenza; Pordenone; Ravenna; Reggio Emilia; Rimini; Rovigo; Treviso; Trieste; Udine; Venice; Verona; Vicenza.
  • Centre: Arezzo; Perugia; Frosinone; Rieti.
  • South: Campobasso; Enna; L'Aquila; Potenza.

Zone F: No restrictions

  • Cuneo 
  • Belluno 
  • Trento

What if it gets cold before then?

The rules are based on average temperatures, so they don't always reflect the current weather.

If there's an unusually cold spell local mayors have the power to authorise extra heating use, whether by bringing forward the start date or allowing boilers to stay on for a few more hours a day.

How long can you keep the heating on?

Italy's rules also cover how long you're allowed to keep the central heating on each day, ranging from six hours in the warmest parts of the country to 14 hours in chillier regions.

Those hours are confined to the daytime: radiators can come on after 5am and must be switched off again after 11pm.

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There are additional rules for public buildings, but for private residential buildings the national norms leave it up to each condominio, or homeowner's association, to decide exactly what time of day the heating comes on or off. It's usually decided by a vote, but if you're a renter you won't necessarily get a say.

You should be able to find the times in your building listed in the regolamento di condominio, or condominium regulations, or by asking your landlord or a well-informed neighbour.

Photo: Beppe Gasparro/AFP

How high can you put the heat on?

Italy also regulates how high you can turn your central heating up. Again, it applies to everyone but is more easily enforced in shared buildings.

Private homes, offices and schools are not supposed to be heated to more than 20 degrees C – though the norms allow a margin of 2 degrees, so the very warmest you can go is 22 degrees C.

Meanwhile factories and workshops should be kept at 18 degrees C (or 20 degrees C if really necessary).


What if I don't need the heat on?

Don't worry if you're a hardy type who doesn't need as much heat as your neighbours: Italy's heating rules do not mean that your radiators come on automatically.

Even if your building has centrally-controlled heating you should be able to regulate your own radiators by adjusting the valves.

And you shouldn't be billed for more heat than you use: even if your spese condominiali (shared building charges) include a fee for heating calculated as an average across all residents, the law says that communal central heating systems must be fitted with meters that allow you to track exactly how much you used. If it comes to less than you paid for, you can request a refund.

Useful vocabulary

riscaldamento centralizzato – central heating

riscaldamento autonomo – independent heating (separate from the rest of your building)

caldaia – boiler

termosifone or radiatore – radiator

contatore – meter

accendere – to switch on

spengere – to switch off


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