The heat is on, Italy plans to turn down air conditioning to save energy

ROME, April 20 (Reuters) - Italians could face a long hot summer with the air conditioning turned down in public offices and buildings as the government seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian gas supplies.

Air conditioning systems will be set to keep the temperature no lower than a balmy 25-27 Celsius (77-81 F) during the warmest months of the year, according to an amendment to a government decree on energy usage.

In the winter, rooms will not be heated beyond a maximum of 19-21 Celsius under rules due to come into force from the start of May to the end of next March.

The amendment is part of a government energy decree currently being vetted by the Upper House of parliament.

Although local authorities specify in which months heating and cooling systems can be used, they do not currently set temperature limits for public buildings.

Italy gets some 40% of its gas imports from Russia and has been looking to diversify its energy supplies since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ministers are set to sign gas deals in the Congo Republic and Angola this week as part of those efforts.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi has suggested dialling down air conditioning and heating systems as one of the ways in which Italy can help to reduce its energy consumption.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Giuseppe Fonte; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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