The building regulations, which came into effect on 1 June 1992 prescribe the minimum requirements to be observed in the construction of new buildings and the alteration or change of use of existing buildings. Since the introduction of the regulations, insulation levels are estimated to have increased by 50 per cent. I intend to amend and consolidate the building regulations and revise the accompanying technical guidance documents shortly; the revisions will yield additional savings of 5 per cent of energy used for space heating.
In April 1996 my Department requested local authorities to give greater priority to the need to improve energy efficiency in their rented dwellings. The Irish Energy Centre, which operates under the aegis of the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications, has the particular remit of promoting energy saving in all sectors of the economy. Conservation of energy in houses and other buildings feature strongly in the centre's advertising, educational and promotional activities including the very successful annual Energy Week. The centre has produced a series of leaflets dealing with all aspects of energy conservation in existing houses. Energy conservation in buildings is also promoted by the energy utilities, especially the ESB. Residential energy use is targeted through advertising and other promotional activities, including reduced prices for lagging jackets, attic insulation and low-energy lights.