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Save power, save money say Greens

Save power, save money say Greens

The Green Party has welcomed the Government's decision to regulate fixed electricity charges and is urging consumers to take advantage of the new pricing structure by investing in better insulation and solar water heating.

"In the past, anyone who made serious efforts to reduce their energy consumption was disadvantaged because they were still slugged with a high fixed charge," said Co-leader Rod Donald. "Now they will be rewarded and everyone else has a serious incentive to conserve power and so save money. "While the scales are tipping in the right direction, it is our view is that there should be no fixed charge in the same way that there is no fixed charge when you pull up at a petrol station to buy fuel.

"The Greens have been arguing for years that the best way to keep prices down is to reduce consumption through better energy efficiency. People now have a real incentive to keep their use below 8000 units a year. "The safest and most comfortable way to do that is to insulate their homes and hot water tanks and to consider installing solar heating panels."

Mr Donald said that rather than indulging in arbitrary and "quick-fix" regulations, the Government should amend the building code to ensure that cost-effective insulation, draught proofing, damp proofing and double-glazing are required in new houses.

"Most new houses are built by spec builders who do the minimum because they don't have to live in them," said Mr Donald. "For existing houses, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority should be properly funded to set up 'one stop shops' that carry out household energy checks free-of-charge."

Mr Donald repeated the recent call from Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons that the Government should also be far more pro-active in regard to encouraging the use of solar heating.

"The Government should contract with leading mortgage companies to offer 'solar mortgages' where the total amount able to be borrowed is increased by the cost of the solar heater, in the knowledge that the savings on the power bill will be enough to meet the extra mortgage costs.

"Eventually, when the investment costs are paid off, the hot water will be free."

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