Rome hoteliers get cold feet over heating restrictions

ROME (Reuters) - Rome hotels complained on Tuesday about a city decree that delayed the date homes and business can switch on central heating systems until Nov. 21 - some three weeks later than normal.

Looking to save gas and electricity in an effort to ease the energy crisis, the Italian government last month asked everyone to turn down their heating and use it for less time this winter.

Italy has long regulated when residents can turn on their heating and responding to the government appeal, Rome initially indicated that radiators could be used from Nov. 8 to April 7 for 11 hours a day, curtailing the heating season by 15 days.

But given recent unseasonably warm weather, city mayor Roberto Gualtieri said at the weekend heaters could not be used until Nov. 21 and would have to be switched off on March 31. He also limited use to 10 hours a day at a maximum 19 Celsius (66.2 Fahrenheit).

The city has estimated that this will reduce household gas consumption by up to 20%, but hoteliers have complained, saying their clients should not have to endure the cold.

"Think about someone who pays several hundred euros for a luxury room. Should they be cold?," said Tommaso Tanzilli, head of the hotel federation in the Lazio region, which includes Rome.

"You can't be forbidden from switching on the heating because of a mayoral decree," he added.

Rome's councillor with responsibility for the environment, Sabrina Alfonsi, told Corriere della Sera newspaper that she did not think the new rules would impact hotels, adding that the regulations could be changed if there was a sudden cold snap.

The European Commission called in July for EU nations to cut their gas consumption by 15% in a bid to stave off an emergency triggered by a sharp reduction of Russian gas supplies to the bloc because of the war in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, editing by Ed Osmond)