The government will advise households to use appliances during off-peak hours as attempts to save energy have increased

In the government’s response to the energy crisis, the public will be advised to use washing machines, dryers, stoves and other household appliances during off-peak hours and turn their heating down this winter.

The coalition will this week consider a range of measures to reduce energy use in the public sector over the coming months, including turning off lights outside public buildings and turning down indoor heating thermostats.

Employers are being asked to heat specific floors where employees congregate rather than entire buildings.

While these will form part of measures to be finalized by coalition leaders and ministers today and signed by the full cabinet tomorrow, a renewed ‘Reduce Your Consumption’ campaign is expected to be launched this autumn and winter.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin today pledged that the government would provide “significant support” in the coming weeks to help people pay rising energy bills.

Ministers will “go as far as they can” to provide support for families struggling to pay household bills.

Mr Martin denied the government was making households responsible for high bills and said energy use needed to be reduced.

He said significant support measures will be made available at budget time, both as part of the budget and as part of the cost-of-living package of one-off measures to be announced in parallel at the end of the month.

This also includes support for everyday school life.

“It’s not about anybody taking flak or taking responsibility for a person,” he told reporters in Offaly.

“We all have to work together to reduce demand, but the government will help people and help ease the cost pressures on people.”

He said pandemic-like support was needed to help families pay mounting bills this winter.

“We will go as far as we can in terms of resources and also to make sure we don’t worsen the inflationary situation,” he said.

“But there will be significant support in the budget and in the living package. It will be an extensive package. It has to be, because the prices are at a level that nobody has experienced before.”

The Taoiseach said rising energy costs were “largely” due to the war in Ukraine.

The EU is also examining a way to reform the energy market.

His comments come as the Cabinet is set to approve energy bill-saving advice, such as: E.g. the use of washing machines, dryers and stoves during off-peak hours

A government source said there was “re-emphasis on” this campaign, due to be announced in the next month or so.

This includes asking the public to use stoves, tumble dryers, washing machines, showers and kettles more efficiently and, if possible, outside of the 4pm to 7pm peak hours.

They are also asked to turn down their thermostats at home and not heat empty rooms.

People are also being asked to slow down to save fuel and not use the car for short journeys, taking walking, cycling or public transport into account.

A series of government guidelines are being issued to reduce the state’s overall energy use this winter, which will likely also include guidelines on retrofitting and insulating homes.

Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan is expected to present a memo to Mr Martin and Tanáiste Leo Varadkar.

One of the tests is to keep the heat in buildings at a certain temperature in the coming months.

One of our concerns is that Ireland is overly dependent on imported fossil fuels

Public sector workers may also be asked not to spread out across different floors in order to heat specific areas rather than entire buildings.

For months, governments and energy experts have been pushing for “reduce your consumption”-style campaigns to promote energy efficiency, but “take shorter showers”-type appeals have met with derision.

But the lawsuits are gaining momentum now as countries introduce limits on air conditioning, introduce lights-out policies in public buildings, and lower heating ratings in other public spaces.

Something similar is being signaled here, and while details are yet to be announced, the government recognizes the need for the public sector to lead by example.

However, that still leaves the thorny issue of our largest power guzzling sector.

A move to reduce data centers would be popular, and while difficult from a policy perspective, some visible action may need to be taken.

It comes as the Climate Change Advisory Council has said, short-term measures like temperature controls must be implemented now to keep energy supplies going.

Chair Marie Donnelly said these measures could save between 20 and 30 per cent on heating bills this year.

“In the short term and given the crisis we are going through right now, one of the recommendations we have made is that people take action now to reduce heating bills for this winter,” she told RTÉ Tomorrow Ireland.

“It’s going to be a difficult winter, unfortunately the cost of fossil fuels is rising every day and we need to take all the action we can.

“So what we’re proposing is doing the short-term measures that are actually inexpensive but effective – like attic insulation, draft control, maintaining your boiler and temperature controls – now and doing the paperwork that’ll be simplified.

“For example, a reduction on the purchase price instead of having to go through the process of online application payment and then refunding the payment.”

Ms Donnelly said discounted public transport fares should also be extended as this measure could save people money and reduce emissions.

She said cycling, walking, working from home and carpooling could reduce private car use and therefore emissions.

“One of our concerns is that Ireland is too dependent on imported fossils fuels. Fossil fuels are 67 percent of our emissions, they’re also costing us a lot of money right now and we have no control over that,” she said.

“The choice is to use our own energy – our own energy comes from the wind and the sun. We need to roll out more onshore wind, solar, and indeed offshore wind.

“Our first priority is the introduction of public transport, bus connects and other public transport infrastructure. When those are in place – in other words, when people have a choice – then you look at things like congestion charging.

“The congestion charge is about saving people money [and] it will also save the climate.” The government will advise households to use appliances during off-peak hours as attempts to save energy have increased

Fry Electronics Team

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