Italy set to turn down air con to save gas

Italian government seeks to curb dependence on gas from Russia.

Italy is set to prohibit public offices from setting their air conditioning lower than 25 degrees Celsius this summer amid efforts by the government to reduce the country's reliance on Russian gas.

The new rules, effective from 1 May until the end of next March, will also set a limit of 19 degrees Celsius on heating systems in public buildings during the winter, reports Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

The austerity plan - part of an amendment to a government decree on energy usage dubbed "operation thermostat" - is currently being examined by the Italian senate.

The energy rationing will affect the office of ministries, local authorities and schools however private homes, hospitals, nursing homes and clinics will be excluded.

The move comes after Italian prime minister Mario Draghi recently asked Italians if they were willing to swap air conditioning for peace in Ukraine.

The premier posed the ironic question after pledging that Rome would comply if the EU decided to impose an embargo on Russian gas to put further pressure on Moscow.

It is unclear how authorities will check whether public buildings are complying with the new rules, whose penalties are set to range from €500 to €3,000, according to Il Sole 24 Ore.

News of the energy saving measures comes as Italian government ministers travel to central and southern Africa this week on a mission to source alternative gas supplies following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Draghi missed the trip after testing positive for covid-19 but is asymptomatic, a government spokesperson announced on Monday.