By Riham Alkousaa
BERLIN (Reuters) - The German state of Bavaria has agreed ways to cut energy use by 15% between August and the end of March, including turning down thermostats in public buildings, as Europe's biggest economy braces for possible further cuts in Russian gas supplies.
The measures are in line with a European Commission proposal for a 15% reduction across the European Union, which could be made legally-binding if, as feared, Russia turns off the gas.
Germany, which, before Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, had relied on Russia for more than half of its gas, is particularly vulnerable to disruption and has already experienced a drop in supply.
According to a five-point programme approved by Bavaria's cabinet on Tuesday, public offices should be heated to a maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and water in bathrooms will not be heated in winter.
The government will switch off lights in the corridors of public buildings and outside them or will adjust them to operate at certain times.
Business trips should be avoided or made by public transport and employees will be allowed to work from home if possible. Public employees and building technicians will be given training on how to reduce energy use.
The aim of the measures in the southeastern region is to help fill the country's gas storage facilities to protect against shortages during the peak demand winter, the state chancellery said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, energy is running out. The state government will therefore save even more," Bavaria's premier Markus Soeder tweeted on Tuesday.
Soeder said the country still needed nationwide ideas to find alternatives to Russian fossil fuels, adding the ruling coalition in Berlin was taking too long.
Last month, Germany's government unveiled energy-saving measures after the country in June moved to the second of three stages of its supply emergency plan.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Barbara Lewis)