The European Union is hoping to reduce its energy consumption by 20% by the year 2020 - and plans to do so by introducing energy efficient technologies. New EU laws that come into effect in 2007 require that the design of buildings and household appliances should be more energy efficient, and a recent green paper says that households could save up to €1000 a year in electricity and heating bills by using energy saving light bulbs and getting rid of old appliances.

The initiative will help Europe meet its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, and will make members less reliant on imported oil and gas.