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Painless public service cuts await in energy use

17 Apr 2013

IRISH TIMES

Duncan Stewart

Inefficient heat and lighting in schools and hospitals waste €120m every year

First, let's imagine saving at least €120 million a year in public spending without pay cuts, overtime changes or reductions in services.
Now let's say this can be done within the next two years.Too good to be true? It's not, if we make public sector energy saving a priority. There are plenty of pilot projects in health, education and local authorities to show the way. What's missing is the urgency and political will to make it happen now, and not in five or 10 years' time.
Ireland spends at least €600 million a year on energy costs in the public sector, according to the recently updated National Energy Efficiency Action Plan. Much of it goes on heating, lighting, cooling, and computers in several thousand schools, hospitals, State offices and other facilities.

Lack of progress
The Government's target is to cut these costs by 33 per cent by 2020 - but progress is so slow to date that they will do well to save 20 per cent, or €120 million, by then. Meanwhile, existing projects show that with programmes targeted at behaviour change and simple low-cost initiatives, €120 million could be saved within two to three years. So what's the hold-up?

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