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Reducing bills means tapping into our own resources - Irish Independent

10 December, 2014

By Paul Mellia

The €6.7bn we spend on imported fossil fuels is money lost to the economy. It's obvious that we need to reduce consumption and find smarter ways of producing the energy we need from indigenous sources.

The best technology available to us would seem to mean that wind power would appear to be our best option. Critics say it's an expensive power source. Not the case in Ireland, says the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), noting that as a "windy" country it is cheap to produce.

But energy efficiency is also key, and some 250,000 homeowners have already upgraded their properties, making them warmer and cheaper to heat.

There's also a growing awareness among community groups about the benefits of this approach. About half the €50m in grants paid by the SEAI this year are to cooperatives of residents' associations and local sports clubs, which submit a package of buildings to be upgraded, giving better value. The payback for investment can be just eight years. It's hard to find a similar return for your money in high street banks.

Transport is another key area and there's no reason why local authorities or companies with large fleets cannot switch to hybrid or electric vehicles, which make environmental and financial sense. The SEAI's ambition is for Ireland to become entirely self-sufficient over time, using wind, wave, solar and biomass as energy sources. One figure highlights the benefits of being smarter - the €1bn in extra fuel costs which would arise every year had we not taken action on efficiency and renewables.

Irish Independent

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