Savings of €1,000 on power bills under new EU rules
HOUSEHOLDERS have been promised savings of up to €1,000 on their annual electricity bills under new EU energy rules.
The new directive is designed to force governments to introduce mandatory energy-saving schemes for homes and businesses.
Sophisticated electricity meters will have to be installed in every home over the next decade, allowing residents to set their electrical appliances to operate at cheaper off-peak times.
Unlike existing meters, which are read by companies to determine the number of units of electricity used by the householders, the advanced smart meters will show consumers their precise power consumption and the cost.
Ireland is still at the testing phase of smart meters, with a pilot programme involving 6,000 homes.
The roll-out of smart electricity meters is not expected to happen for several years, and the cost of installing the meters has yet to be determined.
New models of washing machines and dishwashers will in future be fitted with computer chips that will be linked to the meters.
Under the plan, electricity providers will be obliged to help families with the cost of insulating their homes, and spreading any residual cost over a series of bills.
Marie Donnelly of the EU Energy Directorate said: "The full range of energy efficiencies will be worth between €800 to €1,000 a year to householders.
"Europe is heavily dependent on fuel imports from just a few suppliers and Ireland is at the end of this supply chain.
"Even if consumption has fallen off somewhat in these difficult times, it makes good business and economic sense for Ireland to achieve the highest levels of energy efficiency and the directive will help towards doing just that," she added.
The measures include:
•Energy consumption to be cut by at least 3pc in public buildings every year.
•Energy efficiency a condition of all goods and services bought by the public sector.
•Further reductions in the energy used by household appliances.
•Energy-efficiency requirements for industrial equipment.
•Energy audits and management for large companies.
•Rolling out smart grids and meters, giving consumers ways to cut energy use and calculate their savings.
The directive will now go to the European Parliament for their views, and then to the Council of Ministers, where it is certain to be ratified.