This winter many of China's urban residents will see the end of one of the last free community services -- free heat.
The core of the reform, initiated by the Ministry of Construction, lets employers off the hook for their workers' heating charges. Requiring individual users to pay is expected to cut energy consumption by 30 percent as tenants will be highly motivated to turn down their thermostats.
The reform of the urban heating system will be expanded from a few pioneering cities to all the cities in the coming winter, Xinhua learned on Friday.
Urban residents will still receive monthly allowances from their employers to pay their home heating. Less well off urban residents will receive allowances from the government.
The reform must be put into full swing this winter, the Deputy Minister of Construction, Qiu Baoxing, told a recent national meeting on the matter.
Cities that do not start the reform shall be required to give written explanations to the ministry, he said.
Qiu called the reform key to the central government's efforts to cutting soaring energy consumption and turning China into a resource-saving and environment-friendly society.
Energy consumption and environmental protection are the only two major development goals China failed to meet in the first five years of the decade.
The government has proposed to cut the national energy consumption by 20 percent per unit of GDP during the next five years.
Figures provided by the ministry show that home heating consumes the equivalent of 130 million tons of coal every year, accounting for 10 percent of the nation's total energy consumption.