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Dunedin could save more as a city by looking at energy costs than worrying about council spending, American resource economist John Laitner says.
Based in Tucson, Arizona, Mr Laitner is spending a month in New Zealand, based in Dunedin.
He argues the United States wastes 86% of the energy it consumes, and this is a major cost to the economy. There was likely to be similar waste in New Zealand.
He supports using computer systems such as ''smart'' electricity meters, and efficient light bulbs, to reduce energy use.
The focus needed to be on infrastructure rather than the efficiency of individual devices.
Market-based economies needed to change their thinking and absorb costs of the technology because of the longer-term economic as well as environmental benefits.
He addressed the Otago Chamber of Commerce last week and will head to Wellington this week to visit the Treasury.