Energy efficiency can save our planet... and our cash
Serious questions remain about the Government's commitment to the energy efficiency agenda.
For a Coalition which prides itself on financial prudence, it's somewhat surprising that there has been so little focus on what is a sure-fire way to save money.
The fact that key departments, particularly Public Expenditure and Reform, are using more energy than before perhaps exemplifies the attitude of our politicians towards saving money. This is a no-brainer. The Government could be saving huge sums of public money to fund key services instead of giving it to energy giants.
Instead, we have a situation where one in three public bodies refuses to provide any information, while 67 of those who did are using more gas, electricity and oil than before.
An ambitious programme would yield long-term savings in a relatively short period of time. The SEAI says some €150m has been invested in boiler upgrades, retrofitting and other measures, with a typical payback of three to five years.
These are permanent savings. That means €75m was freed up in 2013 alone to fund public services, or reduce the national debt, or hire doctors, nurses, teachers or gardaí.
And of course energy efficiency helps reduce climate change. The 1,343 GWh of energy saved in 2013 amounts to the usage of 75,000 homes. The improvements mean that 313,000 fewer tonnes of carbon were released into the atmosphere. Good news for the planet - and our wallets.