Indicator Assessment

Energy efficiency and energy consumption in the household sector

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-302-en
  Also known as: ENER 022
Published 30 Apr 2012 Last modified 11 May 2021
20 min read
This page was archived on 06 Nov 2013 with reason: Content not regularly updated

Over the period 1990-2009, energy efficiency in the household sector increased by 24% in EU-27 countries at an annual average rate of 1.4%/year, driven by the diffusion of more efficient buildings, space heating technologies and electrical appliances.  Over the same period, the final energy consumption of households increased by about 8%, at an annual average rate of 0.4%. Electricity consumption grew much faster at an annual growth rate of 1.7%. During the years 2005-2009 energy efficiency increased by 5%, or 1.3%/year.

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Odyssee energy efficiency index (ODEX) (EU-27)

Note: For households, the ODEX is carried out at the level of 3 end-uses (heating, water heating, cooking) and 5 large appliances (refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and TVs)

Data source:

ODYSSEE, Enerdata, October 2010 update. Household energy efficiency;

The access is restricted to project partners or subscribers. The data extracted from the ODYSSEE database and used in the graphs are: the energy consumption by end uses, stock of dwellings, the average floor area, the number of large electrical appliances, the share of central heating.


Influence of climate on household energy consumption per dwelling

Note: Influence of climate on household energy consumption per dwelling between 1990 and 2009.

Data source:


Variation of the consumption per dwelling (1990-2009)

Note: Variation of the consumption per dwelling (1990-2009)

Data source:

  • ODYSSEE. Household energy efficiency by country. The Odyssee database is available at The access is restricted to project partners or subscribers.

Household energy consumption by end-use in the EU-27

Note: Share of energy consumption by end uses in total households consumption in percent.

Data source:

  • ODYSSEE. Unit consumption per dwelling for space heating with climatic corrections, Unit consumption of hot water per dwelling, Unit consumption per dwelling for cooking, Unit consumption per m2 for space heating with climatic corrections, Stock of dwellings (permanently occupied). The Odyssee database is available at The access is restricted to project partners or subscribers

Energy consumption by end use per dwelling, 2009

Note: Based on the ratio: energy consumption by end uses divided by the number of permanently occupied dwelling.

Data source:

  • ODYSSEE. Unit consumption per dwelling by end uses: space heating, water heating, cooking. The Odyssee database is available at The access is restricted to project partners or subscribers.The data extracted from the ODYSSEE database and used in the graphs are:

    Unit consumption per dwelling for space heating with climatic corrections, Unit consumption of hot water per dwelling, Unit consumption per dwelling for cooking,  Unit consumption per dwelling for lighting and electrical appliances

Energy consumption at normal climate.

Drivers of the change in average annual energy consumption per household in the EU-27 between 1990 and 2009

Note: The energy consumption of households is decomposed in different explanatory effects: change in average dwelling size, increasing number of appliances (more electrical appliances) and central heating diffusion, energy efficiency improvement (as measured from ODEX) and change in behaviour related to more confort.

Data source:

  • ODYSSEE. Drivers of the change in average annual energy consumption per household. The Odyssee database is available at The access is restricted to project partners or subscribers.

Energy efficiency index by country (2000-2009)

Note: Change in energy efficiency index by country in the period 2000-2009

Data source:

  • ODYSSEE. Household energy efficiency by country. The Odyssee database is available at The access is restricted to project partners or subscribers.

Diffusion of solar water heaters

Note: Diffusion of solar water heaters in the EU-25

Data source:


Effects of building standards

Note: Effects of building standards

Data source:


  • Over the period 1990-2009, energy efficiency in the household sector increased by 24%, at an average rate of 1.4% per year (Figure 1). Part of these improvements occurred in the area of space heating due to better thermal performance of buildings encouraged by mandatory efficiency standards for new buildings, and a larger penetration of high efficiency boilers (e.g. condensing boilers). All EU countries have developed thermal regulations for new dwellings, some of them as far as the seventies[1]. These standards require a theoretical maximum heating unit consumption for new buildings. However, the magnitude of this impact varies with the countries, depending on the number of standards upgrades, their severity and the number of new dwellings (i.e. the share of recent building in to total stock). Figure 9 shows an estimate of the impact of building standards in the unit consumption of dwelling since 1990 for a selection of countries[2]. The introduction of new dwellings with better insulation since 1990 contributed to decrease the unit consumption per dwelling at different levels: 12% for Sweden, around 35% for France and Netherlands, 40% for Poland, 50% for Denmark and 70% for Germany. The other factors responsible for the decrease of the unit consumption should be the retrofitting of existing dwellings and the introduction of new more efficient heating appliances (namely, condensing boilers and heat pumps), as well as behavioral savings.
  • For the EU-27 as a whole, new dwellings built in 2009 consumed about 40% less energy than dwellings built in 1990, because of new building codes[3] (Figure 9). For large appliances, the improvement in energy efficiency results from technical improvement driven by EU mandatory Directives on labelling and voluntary agreements with equipment manufacturers. As a result, the share of the most efficient appliances (A, A+, A++) has increased significantly: from 6% in 1997 to 94% in 2009 for refrigerators and from 3% to 95% for washing machines, for example[4].
  • Over the period 2005-2009, the average energy efficiency improvement rate at EU level was 1.3% per year. Energy efficiency progress has been lower in 2009 at EU level (0.6 %). There exist large discrepancies among countries: from few improvements for Hungary, Greece to great improvements for new members such as Slovenia, Poland and Romania with an annual average rate of energy efficiency improvement above 2% over the period 2000-2009 (Figure 7). Over the period 2005-2009 there is also an acceleration in energy efficiency progress for EU15 countries such as UK (improvement of 4%/year), France (improvement of 2.2%/year), Ireland (-2.5%/year), Germany (-1.9%/year). Differences between countries can be explained by the high energy efficiency potentials available in these countries due to outdated infrastructures (e.g. buildings, heating supply systems, etc).

    [1] Including for instance France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Sweden.

    [2] This estimate was based on a modelling assuming for new dwellings that their unit consumption is equal to the theoretical consumption as implied by the standards. This approach overestimates the  impact of building regulations as it is well known, but not well quantified , that the actual unit of new dwellings is higher than this consume more than this theoretical consumption, because of non compliance and rebound effects (the fact that in well insulated dwellings occupants tend to have a higher indoor temperature than in less insulated dwellings).

    [3] Estimation based on the relative performance of new buildings built with new regulations, based on building codes, compared to the performance of new buildings built in 1990. 

    [4] Source: GFK

    • Between 1990 and 2009, the final household energy consumption increased by 7.5% in the EU-27[5], at an annual average growth rate of 0.4%. Over the same period, final household electricity consumption increased faster, at an annual growth rate of 1.7%.  Over the period 2005-2009 the final energy consumption decreased by 2.6% (-0.6%/year). Between 2008 and 2009, the household energy consumption has decreased by 0.7% due to the economic crisis. On the contrary, electricity consumption continued to increase at 1.6% a year. Gas and electricity are the main energy source in the household energy consumption (39% and 25% respectively in 2009 compared to 29% and 19% in 1990). Oil follows with 15%, ahead of biomass (11%). Heat, from district heating, and coal represent 7% and 3% of the household consumption in 2009 (compared to 10% and 12% in 1990).
    • Space heating represented 68% of total household consumption in 2009 compared to 74% in 1990. The share of electricity for lighting and appliances increased from 10% to 15% in 2009 compared to 1990. Water heating remains stable at 12% in 2009 (Figure 3). Most of the savings in energy consumption in the household sector took place because of improvements in space heating technologies and tighter building codes (see also Figure 9 below).
    • To avoid yearly fluctuations due to climatic variations from one year to the other and have consistent trends, the household energy consumption should be measured at normal climate (i.e. corrected for climatic variations) (Figure 1 and 2). Between 1990 and 2009 household energy consumption per dwelling (climate corrected) decreased by 0.8%/year in the EU-27. From 2005 to 2009, the decrease in energy consumption per dwelling (-1.1%/year) was driven by increasing energy prices (4.3%[6] per year on average, all fuels combined). n 2009 the unit consumption per dwelling (climate corrected) decreased significantly (-3%) despite a drop in energy prices (-9%): this may be due to the first reactions to the depressed economic situation in most countries (actual income reduction and further expectations. Unit consumption per dwelling has decreased in almost all EU countries from 1990 to 2009 except in 6 countries, mainly southern countries (Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Spain), Finland and Croatia (Figure 3).

    [5] Data for EU as a whole are based on Eurostat data; data for heat consumption has been severely revised since 1990 by Eurostat in June 2011 (this change has been taken into account but  changed  the trends compared to the previous versions of the factsheets)

    [6] Energy prices: weighted average (electricity, fuel, gas prices for domestic users) based on Eurostat data

    • The observed progress in energy efficiency was due to better thermal performance of buildings, more efficient large electrical appliances (cold and washing appliances) and heating systems (condensing boilers and heat pumps). However, part of this improvement was offset by increased number of electrical  appliances, larger homes and the diffusion of central heating[7] . The combined effect of these three factors was an increase in the average consumption per dwelling by around 0.4% a year each (Figure 6), offsetting 60% of the energy efficiency improvement achieved through technological innovation.

    [7] The penetration of central heating was mainly significant in the southern European countries and in Ireland. Central heating (around 85% of EU dwellings in 2009) , which includes district heating, block heating, individual boiler heating and electric heating, implies that all the rooms are well heated, as opposed to room heating, where generally a stove provides heat to the main room only. It is estimated that the replacement of single room heating by central heating increases the energy required for space heating by about 25 % on average.

    The case of water heating

    Energy consumption for water heating represented around 12% of the household consumption in 2009. Energy consumption for water heating per dwellings tends to decrease in countries since 1990 (-1.2%/year since 2000) except for 7 countries, Slovenia, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Cyprus, Latvia and Malta.

    Solar energy is promoted in many countries to substitute conventional energies presently used to produce hot water. Solar water heaters can represent a good economical and environmental solution mainly for southern countries which benefit from a good solar irradiation. The question is how much energy savings the diffusion of solar energy will generate. The answer depends on the methodologies and conventions used. With a top-down approach, the impact of solar heating on the household energy consumption will be measured based on the energy statistics. In this case, the savings come from the fact that one kWh of solar will replace more than one kWh of conventional energy (due to the convention applied in energy statistics to solar heating, namely that there are no losses in conversion). The level of energy saved will depend depending on the type of water heaters replaced (for instance their efficiency). So looking at both energy consumption for water heating and water consumption trends in the households, one could draw some conclusions on the influence of solar heating penetration. In a bottom-up approach used in national evaluations, solar water heaters are considered as an energy saving technology and thus the saving will be much larger[8]. One such example of a bottom up approach is the methodology applied in France.

    In France there is an energy saving obligation for energy suppliers above a certain level of sales. The total volume of savings of the obligation is defined by the government. The energy suppliers falling under the regulation, have to prove a volume of savings proportional to their market share. For that purpose, they have to implement actions with their consumers to encourage energy savings investments and will receive in exchange certificates; they are also allowed to buy energy saving certificates from suppliers in excess of their obligation. To define the amount of savings (i.e. certificates) linked to a given action (e.g. promotion of solar water heaters), energy savings have been standardised for a large number of energy saving equipment and action. The savings values have been agreed upon following a process involving various stakeholders on the basis of expert opinions and survey data. The details of the calculations are not public but the value of the standardised savings by equipment and actions are published on the Ministry web site[9].


    The annual  savings in year t = ni x ESi in kWh

    ESi = energy savings per m2 of solar water heater in climatic zone i

    ni   = surface area of solar water heater promoted or installed in year t in zone i

    Climatic Area








    The life time savings are discounted with a discount rate of 4%. This results in the value of 11.56 years for the discounted lifetime for solar water heaters with a standardised life time of 15 years. The savings are presented as kWh cumac to clarify that they are cumulated and discounted. The following table gives the official for individual solar water heaters by climatic zone.

    Lifetime discounted savings by climatic area (kWh cumac/m2)









    Based on this methodology, the energy savings realised due to replacement of traditional water heating equipment with solar heating range from 250 kWh/m2/year and 400 kWh/m2/year depending on the climatic zone

    Figure 8 presents the percentage of dwelling with solar water heaters in Europe in 2009 according to the solar irradiation. Cyprus and Greece have the most important share of dwelling equipped with solar water heaters (75% for Cyprus, 35% for Greece). Austria is the benchmark for most countries with medium solar radiation (from 3% to 24% dwellings equipped). In most European countries there exist financial incentives (subsidies or soft loans) and fiscal incentives (tax credit) to encourage households to install solar water heaters in their dwellings.

    [8] This is the case for the measurement  of savings linked to solar water heaters in national white certificate schemes or in the NEEAP. The savings will be in a range of 500 to 1000 kWh/m2 depending on the country.


    Supporting information

    Indicator definition

    • Household energy consumption, covers all energy consumed in households for space heating, water heating, cooking and electricity.    Figures are reported either aggregated or disaggregated according to the end use categories named and as a total figure or per dwelling or m2 of housing area. Climate fluctuates from one year to another. When the data is flagged as climate corrected, the data is normalized to reflect similar weather conditions.
    • Consumption in useful energy per degree-day corrects for difference in heating equipment efficiency (which varies according to the fuel  uses) and climate.


    Energy efficiency indices (ODEX) can be defined as a ratio between the actual energy consumption of the sector in year t and the sum of the implied energy consumption from each underlying sub-sector/ end use in year t (based on the unit consumption of the sub-sector with a moving reference year. The evaluation of energy savings in household is carried out at the level of three end uses (heating, water heating and cooking) and five large appliances (refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and TVs). For each end use, the following indicators are used to measure efficiency progress: heating — unit consumption per m2 per dwelling equivalent to central heating at normal climate; water heating — unit consumption per dwelling with water heating; and cooking — unit consumption per dwelling. The average energy consumption per m2 per dwelling equivalent to central heating is used to leave out the impact of the diffusion of central heating. The effect of (heating) behaviour was estimated by assuming that technical progress cannot be reversed

    Household CO2-emissions covers the direct CO2 emitted by fuel combustion.


    Household consumption: tons of oil equivalent (TOE)

    ODEX index: #

    CO2 emissions:  MtCO2


    Policy context and targets

    Context description

    Energy efficiency: delivering the 20% target  - COM(2008) 772 final

    European leaders committed themselves to reduce primary energy consumption by 20% compared to projections for 2020. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption while maintaining an equivalent level of economic activity. Improving energy efficiency also addresses the key energy challenges of climate change, energy security and competitiveness.

    Action Plan for Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential - COM(2006) 545

    This Action Plan outlines a framework of policies and measures with a view to intensify the process of realising the over 20% estimated savings potential in EU annual primary energy consumption by 2020. The Plan lists a range of cost-effective measures, proposing priority actions to be initiated immediately, and others to be initiated gradually over the Plan's six-year period. Further action will subsequently be required to reach the full potential by 2020.

    Commission Green Paper, 22 June 2005, "Energy Efficiency - or Doing More With Less" COM(2005) 265 final

    It outlines the need to adopt specific measures to improve energy efficiency.

    Decision No 1230/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 adopting a multiannual programme for action in the field of energy: "Intelligent Energy -- Europe" (2003-2006)

    Energy and transport play a large part in climate change since they are the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions; this is why energy policy is particularly important in the European Union's sustainable development strategy. The EU is increasingly dependent on energy imported from Non-EU Member Countries, creating economic, social, political and other risks for the Union.

    The EU therefore wishes to reduce its dependence and improve its security of supply by promoting other energy sources and cutting demand for energy. Consequently, it is putting the accent, above all, on improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy sources.


    No targets have been specified

    Related policy documents



    Methodology for indicator calculation

    Methodology and frequency of data collection
    Data collected annually in the framework of the ODYSSEE MURE project

    Methodology of data manipulation
    Change in households final energy consumption per person: (final energy consumption per country2007 /population per country2007) / (final energy consumption per country1990 /population per country1990) – 1

    Energy consumption by end use per dwelling: final energy consumption per country / number of dwellings per country.

    Energy consumption per m2 for space heating : final energy consumption for space heating / (number of dwelling * dwelling size)

      Energy consumption per dwelling or m2 at normal  climate: sum of heating consumption at normal climate and the non heating consumption/ number of dwellings

      Heating consumption per dwelling at normal  climate : energy consumption * HDDn/HDD with HDD: observed  Heating Degree Days in   current year and HDDn number of degree days for a normal year (long-term average degree days over last 30 years; source Eurostat); number of degree days by country population weighted

      CO2 emissions space heating per m2, climate corrected: CO2 emissions from space heating per dwelling climate corrected / average  floor area of dwellings

      Odyssee index: see

      Geographical coverage
      The Eurostat database covers all 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Croatia and Turkey. Odyssee database covers EU-27 plus Norway and Croatia. Not always data is available for all countries.

      Temporal coverage
      1990-2009 with a focus on the period 2000/2009 for detailed analysis by country (due to non available or reliable data for new EU countries before 1996)

      Data sources
      All data figures: Odyssee database, Enerdata, October 2011 update; the Odyssee database covers detailed energy consumption by fuel, end-uses and their  drivers for 27 EU countries, EU-27 as a whole, Norway and Croatia. Due to statistical limits, data for EU new member countries are only available (or reliable) since 1997.



      Methodology for gap filling

      • Energy consumption by end uses:  extrapolated from 16 EU countries (11 main EU-15 countries + Poland, Czech Rep, Estonia, Hungary and Romania) representing more than 90% of the household consumption (e.g. 94% for gas, 92% for electricity). The energy consumption for all these countries is aggregated by fuel and end-uses and a share is applied to the total consumption by fuel from Eurostat. For instance, the space heating consumption of gas is calculated as the total consumption of gas as published by Eurostat for the EU-27 multiplied by the share of space heating in the gas consumption in the sample of 16 countries. The space heating consumption for the EU-27 is then calculated as the sum of the consumption for space heating for each fuel. This method guarantees the coherence between the aggregate and disaggregated energy consumption.
      • Number of dwelling: sum of the 27 countries
      • Floor area of dwelling: calculation based on data available for 19 countries

       Box:  Explanation of the calculation of the energy consumption by end use: case  of gas used for space heating

      • If Eurostat  gas consumption of households is X Mtoe for EU-27;
      • From the sample of countries for which data are available by end use, the consumption of gas for space heating, YH, is calculated from the sum of countries;
      • From the same sample of countries, the total consumption of gas, Y, is calculated from the sum of countries
      • The share of space heating in gas consumption SH in the sample of countries is equal to YH/Y
      • To get the consumption of gas for space heating (XH) at the EU level we assume that the share is the same as for the sample of countries XH = X* SH


      Methodology references

      No methodology references available.



      Methodology uncertainty

      No uncertainty has been specified

      Data sets uncertainty

      Strengths and weaknesses (at data level)
      Not all data is available for all countries. Availability for data on years earlier than 2008, is higher.
      Odyssee data is recently updated (October 2010).

      Reliability, accuracy, robustness, uncertainty (at data level)
      The reliability of total household energy consumption and related CO2 emissions is reliable due to trustworthy statistics underlying it. Division of the energy consumption among activities (heating / cooking etc.) is less accurate, because it is based on assumptions.

      Rationale uncertainty

      No uncertainty has been specified

      Data sources

      Other info

      DPSIR: State
      Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
      Indicator codes
      • ENER 022
      EEA Contact Info


      Geographic coverage

      Temporal coverage