updated 7/1/2005 9:40:39 AM ET 2005-07-01T13:40:39

As the Chinese summer heats up, civil servants in the capital have been told to dress down to save on energy, state media said Friday.

With many cities in China facing severe power shortages, the Beijing city government has given its staff the go ahead to dress casually for internal meetings so that air conditioner usage can be kept to a minimum, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Government offices were advised to keep air conditioners at 26 degrees Celsius (78 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher from July 1 to Aug. 31.

It is the first time that civil servants have been asked to dress in casual clothes instead of the Western-style suits and neckties adopted by most government employees.

Similar move in Japan
Japan's central government introduced a casual dress code for its officials earlier this summer, a move that proved hugely popular with employees and the public.

In a further effort to conserve energy, Beijing's city government has started to use power-efficient light bulbs, Xinhua said.

The changes have cut the cost of electricity at city government offices to 80,000 yuan ($10,000) a month from about 100,000 yuan ($12,000), the agency said.

Many Chinese cities have been facing power shortfalls as booming industries compete with rising electricity consumption by millions of air conditioners.

Unseasonably hot weather over the past two weeks also pushed power consumption to record highs in Beijing, Shanghai and other parts of northern and central China.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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