From 2006 to 2014 there were significant reductions in energy use in Irish homes. Since 2014 this trend has reversed.

Household energy use in Ireland

This report presents statistics on energy use in the residential sector. It shows trends in energy demand and associated carbon emissions. The residential sector had the second largest final energy demand in 2016, after the transport sector.

  • 6.7%

    Increase in CO₂ from 2014 to 2016
  • €3.4bn

    Cost of energy to Irish households in 2016
  • 60%

    More CO₂ in the Irish household than the average EU home

There was a significant improvement in energy intensity of Irish dwellings post 2007. However, compared to the EU average Irish dwellings perform poorly in terms of energy intensity. This is particularly true of carbon dioxide emissions. The report explores the reasons behind these trends and Ireland's poor performance.

Many of the economic factors that contributed to the reduction in household energy intensity witnessed post 2007 eased or reversed after 2014. Disposable incomes increased and oil prices reduced. In response to the easing of these pressures, residential energy use returned to growth between 2014 and 2016.

Reduction in energy use per dwelling

 IrelandEU28 Average EU28 Max EU28 Min
2000 23.467014 19.413959 26.91182 5.853379
2001 24.114805 19.237183 25.64415 6.209257
2002 24.656763 19.169729 25.936063 6.209257
2003 24.357872 18.969693 25.405735 6.069697
2004 24.391599 18.803384 25.002174 6.430227
2005 24.696305 18.598696 25.114985 6.251125
2006 24.509062 18.620793 24.60908 6.789594
2007 23.819403 17.611309 24.768411 7.128027
2008 22.416825 18.074183 25.084747 7.141983
2009 21.253825 17.527573 24.683512 6.336024
2010 19.729132 17.148435 24.382295 6.296482
2011 19.111579 16.108713 23.924073 4.249602
2012 17.47989 15.871461 24.063633 3.841389
2013 17.47989 16.583217 23.610063 7.702549
2014 17.289158 15.697011 23.496089 7.525773
2015 17.054232 15.881928 23.828707 7.554848
Source: Odyssee-Mure

Up until the mid 2000s Ireland had one of the highest energy intensities per dwelling of any EU country. From 2007 onwards there was a significant reduction in the energy intensity of Irish dwellings. Despite this improvement by 2015 we still remained 7% above the EU average.

The decrease in residential energy use between 2007 and 2014 was due to a combination of:

  • Improved thermal efficiency due to retrofitting and building regulations
  • Reduced household incomes and expenditure, due to the economic downturn
  • High energy prices
There is an urgent need to reduce energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions within our residential sector.
Jim Scheer, Head of Energy Modelling, SEAI

High carbon emissions per dwelling

 IrelandEU28 Average EU28 Max EU28 Min
2000 8.9493 4.7355 8.9493 1.3586
2001 9.3611 4.812 9.3611 1.4619
2002 9.0023 4.7302 9.0023 1.4105
2003 8.4767 4.7749 8.4767 1.3594
2004 8.3806 4.6587 8.3806 1.3114
2005 8.3815 4.5675 8.3815 1.1642
2006 8.0576 4.5573 8.0576 1.0333
2007 7.7076 4.2679 7.7076 0.8313
2008 7.4114 4.265 7.4114 0.7894
2009 6.8815 4.0519 6.8815 0.8355
2010 6.6013 4.054 6.849 0.9937
2011 6.0238 3.7151 6.7784 0.7817
2012 5.806 3.7139 6.0969 0.6856
2013 5.4505 3.7014 6.858 0.6938
2014 5.1909 3.3384 6.2996 0.6121
2015 5.3653 3.4016 5.3653 0.6214
Source: Odyssee-Mure

In 2015, the average Irish dwelling emitted more energy related carbon dioxide than any other EU country. We emitted 58% more than the average EU dwelling. This is due to greater use of high-carbon fuels including oil, coal and peat.

Improving energy efficiency

The energy efficiency of the dwelling stock has been improved. This been achieved by new building regulations governing energy efficiency of new dwellings and by carrying out energy efficiency retrofits to a large share of the stock of existing dwellings.

  • 60%

    Efficiency improvement of dwellings built since 2011 compared to 2005
  • 375,000

    Homes received government grants for energy efficiency improvements between 2000 and 2016
  • 98%

    Share of new dwellings built in 2016 that had an A rating

High energy prices

SEAI domestic fuel price comparison

 OilNatural Gas Bagged Wood Pellets Electricity
Q1 2005 4.29 3.57 0 13.85
Q2 2005 5.06 3.57 0 13.85
Q3 2005 5.45 3.57 0 13.85
Q4 2005 6.21 4.47 0 13.85
Q1 2006 5.62 4.47 5.92 14.45
Q2 2006 5.88 4.47 6.11 14.45
Q3 2006 6.14 4.47 6.43 14.45
Q4 2006 5.51 5.98 6.71 14.45
Q1 2007 5.37 5.98 7.12 16.29
Q2 2007 5.44 5.39 6.80 16.29
Q3 2007 5.78 6.10 6.80 16.29
Q4 2007 5.78 6.10 6.49 16.29
Q1 2008 6.95 5.43 6.64 16.06
Q2 2008 7.20 5.43 6.59 16.06
Q3 2008 9.92 6.50 6.69 16.06
Q4 2008 8.68 6.50 6.69 19.36
Q1 2009 5.48 6.40 6.70 19.07
Q2 2009 5.82 6.40 7.15 19.07
Q3 2009 6.24 5.50 7.20 17.52
Q4 2009 5.97 5.50 6.72 17.52
Q1 2010 6.65 4.97 6.76 16.81
Q2 2010 7.20 4.97 6.67 16.81
Q3 2010 8.31 4.97 6.83 16.84
Q4 2010 8.05 5.27 6.68 17.56
Q1 2011 8.27 5.27 6.68 17.48
Q2 2011 9.46 5.09 6.63 16.89
Q3 2011 8.86 5.09 6.47 17.05
Q4 2011 9.19 6.18 6.67 19.43
Q1 2012 9.64 6.18 6.61 19.41
Q2 2012 10.19 6.14 6.71 19.85
Q3 2012 9.66 6.14 6.62 19.88
Q4 2012 10.40 6.73 6.61 21.21
Q1 2013 9.96 6.73 6.63 21.19
Q2 2013 10.08 6.54 6.77 21.07
Q3 2013 9.68 6.54 6.69 21.15
Q4 2013 9.76 7.23 6.95 22.27
Q1 2014 9.80 7.23 6.90 22.27
Q2 2014 9.52 6.81 6.90 22.12
Q3 2014 9.68 6.81 6.90 22.20
Q4 2014 9.43 7.45 7.10 23.35
Q1 2015 7.47 7.45 7.14 23.32
Q2 2015 7.89 6.73 7.26 22.02
Q3 2015 8.13 6.73 7.21 22.13
Q4 2015 7.33 7.24 7.48 22.66
Q1 2016 6.31 7.24 7.43 22.64
Q2 2016 6.37 6.52 7.40 21.36
Q3 2016 6.90 6.52 7.45 21.48
Q4 2016 7.10 6.78 7.36 21.57
Source: SEAI

The period 2011 to 2016 saw record high energy prices for electricity, gas and oil:

  • Oil prices peaked in 2012 at 10.4 €cent/kWh – 147% above the 2000-2005 average
  • Gas peaked in 2014 at 7.45 €cent/kWh – 135% above the 2000-2005 average
  • Electricity price peaked in 2014 at 23.35 €cent/kWh – 101% above the 2000-2005 average

Increase in fuel poverty

 Without heating at some stageUnable to afford to keep the home adequately heated
200664
200764
200864
2009 7 4
2010 11 7
2011 12 7
2012 13 9
2013 16 10
2014 16 9
2015 14 9
Source: CSO

The percentage of individuals reporting that they are unable to afford to keep their home adequately warm increased from 4% in 2006 to 10% in 2013. Although the situation improved somewhat in 2014-15, fuel-poverty remained well above the 2006 to 2008 levels.

Few people living in apartments

 IrelandAverage EU28
Apartments 7.4 33.3
Detached house 40.9 24.1
Semi-detached house 51.6 42
Others 0.2 0.6
Source: Eurostat

The floor area of the average Irish dwelling is amongst the largest in the EU. This is one reason for the higher average energy consumption of Irish homes. The larger average floor area of Irish dwellings is partly because of Ireland's low share of apartments.

In 2015 7% of Irish people lived in apartments, the lowest proportion of any EU member state. The next nearest member state was the UK at 15%, while 66% of the population in Spain lives in apartments. The average across the whole EU28 was 33%.

Carbon intensive fuel mix

 OilGas District Heat CoalWood Electricity
Ireland 36 21 0 15 3 25
Belgium 33 39 0 1 7 20
Germany 22 38 8 1 10 21
UK 6 61 0 2 6 25
Netherlands 0 74 3 0 2 20
Poland 3 17 21 33 14 13
Denmark 6 13 36 0 25 20
Sweden 1 0 34 0 14 51
Lithuania 3 9 32 3 36 17
Source: Odyssee-Mure

The most important reason for the high carbon dioxide emissions of Irish dwellings is the the mix of fuels we use.

Coal and peat use

15% of energy used in Irish households is from direct use of coal and peat. These are the two most carbon intensive fuels, and Ireland uses more of them per dwelling than any other EU member state, apart from Poland.

Oil use

36% of energy used in Irish households is from oil, the highest proportion of any EU member state except for Cyprus. Oil is less carbon intensive than coal but more carbon intensive than gas.

Electricity

Ireland’s electricity is also one of the most carbon intensive in the EU.

Webinar on highlights of the SEAI 2018 Energy in the Residential Sector report

Energy in the Residential Sector Report

The full report provides extensive details on energy use in the residential sector broken down in different ways. This includes factors influencing energy demand, carbon intensity in the residential sector, and international comparison.

Download the report

Your feedback

Feedback and comments on this report are welcome by email to epssu@seai.ie.