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Beijingers to get controllable heating
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Beijing has begun to provide weather forecasts tailored for heating in cold weather in a move to reduce energy consumption and pollution in the city.

The Beijing Meteorological Bureau initiated the service on Tuesday ahead of the heating season, which usually runs from November 15 till next March in Beijing.

Cities in northern China, as in Beijing, normally provide public heating services for residents when the winter comes, with facilities, including big boilers, connected to each household with supplies of hot water circulating in the pipes.

The public heating system in Beijing aims to keep indoor temperatures above 16 degrees Celsius, but some people complain the temperature is too high when it gets warmer as the daily heating temperature is fixed all through the heating season.

A new system with more than 100 monitoring spots across the city has been set up to make it possible to tune heating systems with appropriate figures, said Ding Deping, head of the specific forecast department of the municipal bureau.

It would provide indoor and outdoor temperatures of residential areas and wind speeds, along with data such as water temperatures into and out of boilers, for the bureau to analyze and make forecasts, said Ding.

Ding said heating service providers and individual households could tune the heating temperatures based on forecasts of the boiler's water temperatures a few days ahead of time.

The monitoring system covers major residential areas of the city, including outer suburbs.

The bureau has been providing trial services for dozens of heating units in Beijing since the winter of 2003, Ding said.

The new service could slash energy consumption for heating in Beijing by five percent each year, which amounted to about 100 million yuan annually on estimates of Beijing's yearly spending of two billion yuan (US$267.7 million) on heating, said Ding.

He said services, including the heating index and temperature forecasts within one to three days, would be immediately available for staff at the Beijing District Heating Group, which provided heating for one third of the city, and enterprises and communities that provide regional services.

Individuals could tune their own heaters at home according to a heating index published in the media, which would range from the minimum level to the highest fifth grade based on factors such as the temperature, sunlight, wind speeds and humidity.

Some Beijing residents in new residential areas are not provided with public heating system, but with household heaters, and they can easily tune the heating temperatures freely at home.

The reduced energy consumption would also mean a "bluer" sky for Beijing during the winter, as many city boilers are coal fired, which causes heavy pollution with sulfur dioxide emissions.

Beijing has been replacing coal-fired boilers to lessen pollution and aims to have more than 40 percent of the area provided with natural gas by the end of this year, and 50 percent by 2010.

The capital has come up with a series of campaigns to improve the air quality since the beginning of this year for the 2008 Olympic Games.

From August 17 to 20, about 1.3 million cars were banned from the city roads each day to test the effect on air quality for the Olympic Games.

The municipal government cut metro ticket prices by more than 30 percent, and offered discounts up to 60 percent on bus tickets earlier this year, to encourage public transport use.

Beijing Shougang Group, China's leading steel manufacturer, has pledged an output reduction of more than 70 percent from July to September next year to ensure the Olympics can enjoy better air quality.

The municipal meteorological bureau has also beefed up its efforts this year to ensure more accurate weather forecasts during the Olympic Games.

China has successfully launched its second professional geostationary orbit meteorological satellite, Fengyun-2D (FY-2D), on December 8 last year to provide better weather forecast services for the Games.

(Xinhua News Agency November 2, 2007)

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