People in Germany have to save at least a fifth of their energy consumption to avoid a gas shortage by December due to falling Russian gas flows, Germany's network regulator head Klaus Mueller said.
Mr Mueller said Germany should also cut its gas exports to neighbouring countries by 20 per cent, and import 10 to 15 Gigawatt hours (Gwh)of gas to avoid shortages.
"If we don't save a lot and don't get any additional gas, we'll have a problem," Mueller said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper published on Saturday.
Germany last month raised its storage targets for autumn to 75 per cent by Sept. 1, 85 per cent by Oct. 1 and 95 per cent by Nov. 1, and had introduced save energy measures.
According to the government's gas emergency plan, private households will be prioritised in case of a gas supply crunch but Mr Mueller said the prioritisation doesn't mean that households can heat excessively in that situation.
"In order to secure jobs, I think austerity measures for private households are legitimate," Mr Mueller added.
Securing gas through fracking in Germany, as some regional politicians have been demanding, will not solve the gas shortage problem in the coming two winters in which Berlin will still be dependent on Russian gas, he said.
But Mr Mueller declined to say whether a life extension of Germany's remaining nuclear power plants was conceivable, referring to the awaited results of a stress test the government is conducting to answer that question.