SANTIAGO, Chile - Energy conservationists here went for the throat this week.

Though Chile is a conservative country where men typically dress formally for work, the government told its workers they won't have to wear ties or jackets during the summer.

The goal: To cut electricity usage by easing up on air-conditioning.

According to the government, 215,000 air conditioners have been imported into Chile since 1997 - and during the Southern Hemisphere summer from December to March, they may account for up to 60 percent of electricity consumption at workplaces.

The no-tie, no-jacket plan was the idea of the government's Commission for Energy Efficiency.

"We hope all sectors will follow this recommendation so it will become a national habit," said the group's director, Nicola Borregaard, at a news conference.

The country's main private business organization, the Industrial Development Society, joined the initiative, which according to its president, Bruno Phillippi, has proved successful in other places, including Japan.

"In 2005, instructions on proper dressing and adequate use of air conditioners during summer in Japan resulted in considerable reduction of power consumption and of CO2 emissions," he said.

Phillippi then removed his tie.