Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

Energy Efficiency Status Report 2012 - cover image

EU households consume around 300 Mtoe of energy per year© EU, 2012

Electricity consumption rises in households despite more efficient appliances


A new JRC report shows the status of energy consumption (up to 2010) in the EU-27 residential and tertiary sectors, with a special focus on the electricity consumption of main household appliances and equipment. Conclusions show that the increasing number and use of appliances and equipment has kept energy and electricity consumption either stable or increasing in the sectors studied.

The residential sector

Between 2005 and 2010, residential electricity consumption increased by 1.7% due to a growing number of appliances. However, there are important differences to be highlighted. Despite an increase in energy efficiency, the total energy consumption of television sets, for example, has increased by 2-3% in two years (2007-2009), reaching 56 TWh in 2009. Electricity consumption of residential lighting, in contrast, has decreased by 5% during these two years, mainly due to the increase of compact florescent lamps in anticipation of the phasing-out of incandescent light bulbs.

In addition, a combination of national incentives and EU legislation, such as energy labelling, minimum performance standards and energy efficiency policies have proven very successful for the so-called white appliances like freezers, washing machines and dishwashers.

The EU’s total residential energy consumption has remained stable at around 300 Mtoe per year between 2005 and 2010, mainly due to better insulated buildings and boilers, resulting from the EU's requirements on energy performance of buildings and national measures to promote them.

The tertiary sector

Final energy consumption in the tertiary sector has grown by 12.12% between 2005 and 2010 (from 136 Mtoe to 152 Mtoe), while the electricity consumption grew significantly with a 17.05% increase (from 712 TWh to 834 TWh) in the EU-27 during the same period.

According to the JRC report, office lighting consumption represented the biggest share (21.57%) of electricity consumption in this sector in 2010, followed by electric space heating.