Ireland promotes sustainable energy culture

Irish Environment Minister Batt O'Keeffe has urged industry and householders to get behind the government's drive to cut carbon emissions.

Speaking at a conference in Cork the minister told delegates that Ireland’s culture of energy use had to become more sustainable if there was to be any hope of meeting its emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr O’Keeffe said the country needed to increase energy efficiency in housing and communities and look at ways industry could cut its energy bill while promoting the renewables sector.

Like many signatories, Ireland is struggling to meet its Kyoto commitments and is well off its target of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 13% above 1990 levels.

The government is targeting homeowners who it believes can make significant savings in both emissions and hard cash by improving energy efficiency.

According to its estimates the average household could save €750 per year and cut its emissions by two tonnes of carbon dioxide.

If taken up by households across the land this could amount to 20% of the reduction necessary to meet it’s targets.

“In our emerging carbon constrained world, our climate is changing faster than we would like,” said Mr O’Keeffe.

“We are responsible for this situation and we have to change our ways if we are to protect ourselves and future generations from the worst consequences of human induced global warming.

“The change required is an enormous challenge but one that starts with awareness and a proactive approach at the individual and local levels.”

The Cork conference was also used as a platform by Sustainable Energy Ireland to promote its Ten Commandments of Sensible Energy use.

These should now be a familiar mantra with most people and are:

  • Turn your TV off rather than leave it on stand-by – equipment on stand-by uses up to 20% of the energy it would use when fully on.
  • Walk or cycle instead of driving short journeys – it costs nothing and is good for you.
  • Turn your heating down – lowering your thermostat by 1o Celsius will take 10% off your heating bill.
  • Buy ‘A’ rated kitchen appliances – they cost less to run and over time will give you considerable savings on your electricity bill.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs (CFLs) instead of traditional bulbs they use 1/5th energy and last up to 10 times as long.
  • Insulate your attic – attic insulation will keep the heat in your home for longer and pay for itself in 2-3 years.
  • Fit a lagging jacket – lagging your hot water cylinder will keep the water hotter for longer and pay for itself in 2-3 months.
  • Don’t overfill your kettle – only boil as much water as you need.
  • Fit thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to your radiators – TRVs allow you to control the temperature of your rooms individually.
  • Support renewable energy initiatives in your community – renewable energy doesn’t produce greenhouse gases.

    By Sam Bond

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