MOSCOW, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- President Dmitry Medvedev wants to turn Russia into an energy efficiency champion.
How do Russians regulate their heating system in the winter? Well, they simply open their windows. That may sound like a joke to you, but it really isn't -- Russians are notorious for wasting power. And why should they bother? Gas and electricity prices are too low to do so. One of the world's biggest energy powers, Russia hasn't exactly cultivated an atmosphere of resource conservation.
Medvedev wants this to change.
In a speech last week Medvedev said he wants to increase his country's energy efficiency by 40 percent.
"Russia can resolve this task even by means of existing technologies and close this gap," Russian news agency Itar-Tass quoted him as saying before a crowd at the Kurtshakovskij Institute, the lab that several decades ago helped make the nuclear bomb for the Soviet Union.
Medvedev promised that talking days are over; he said that the Russian Duma would consider an energy efficiency law that should come into effect by Jan. 1, 2010.
"The situation with Russia's energy efficiency is depressing," Medvedev said, according to Itar-Tass. "Russia's energy intensity, the ratio of energy to GDP, exceeds that of industrialized countries many-fold, while heat losses are higher than 50 percent."
Medvedev has vowed to modernize the Russian industry, which is old an energy-inefficient. Russian companies consume four times more energy than their Western competitors. Nearly half of the gas Russia produces is wasted because of aging machinery and pipelines.
Moreover, the country's state-subsidized low prices for heating and electricity fail to prompt people to save energy in their daily lives. The president seems to be aware of that problem.
"We don't know how to save. … We are very tough, we are very big and very rich. We don't even turn off the light all the time," he added. "So this means a revolution in the minds too."
Medvedev said the Kremlin will set an example regarding energy efficiency.
"When promoting the energy saving policy, the state should begin with itself, with state-owned organizations," he said, adding that saving energy would save people money.
Earlier this year Russia and Germany joined forces to launch RUDENA, a bilateral energy agency aimed at introducing energy efficiency measures in Russia.