EU Wants 20 Percent Cut in Energy Use by 2020
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said 60 billion euros ($73.12 billion) a year could be saved in fuel costs in the 25-nation bloc.
A household could save up to 1,000 euros a year in electricity and heating bills by using energy saving lightbulbs, getting rid of old fridges and replacing boilers, he added.
"If we (are) making good progress on energy efficiency, we are decreasing dependency from oil prices and at same time creating jobs in the sectors related to energy efficiency," Piebalgs told a news conference.
The Commission forecasts that the EU will be 90 percent reliant on imported oil and 80 percent dependent on gas imports by 2030. Oil prices steadied at $59 early on Wednesday, on average $10 a barrel more than last year.
Piebalgs said the Commission would present an action plan at the end of 2006 with concrete steps on energy efficiency.
Half of the 20 percent cut in energy use will come from the entry into force by 2007 of new EU laws making the design of buildings and household appliances more energy efficient.
EU governments must also implement new measures to reach the target. The Commission suggested reducing tax on cleaner cars and making public tenders subject to energy efficient criteria.
But a group of cross-party EU lawmakers called for tougher limits and a mandatory energy saving of 23 percent by 2020.
They say this reduction would represent over half the EU's target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
"(Energy) efficiency has by far the biggest potential (to cut emissions) and by far the cheapest," Luxembourg Green EU lawmaker Claude Turmes told a news briefing.