Energy usage

The end use of energy is normally divided into four sectors: industry, transport, residential as well as commercial and public services.

End users come into contact with electricity, gas and heating retail companies as well as local distribution companies that own the physical distribution system.

Both households and businesses can reduce their energy costs quite substantially by using energy in a smarter, more efficient way. This can often be achieved without big investments.


Between 1990 and 2009, total electricity consumption in the EU increased by 26.4 per cent, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). This corresponds to an average annual growth rate of 1.2 per cent. Towards the end of the period consumption actually decreased.

Between 2005 and 2009, total electricity consumption decreased by 1.8 per cent, and between 2008 and 2009, the decrease was 5 per cent due to the economic recession. The share of electricity in total energy consumption increased from 17.1 per cent in 1990 to 21 per cent in 2009. From 2000 to 2010, the consumption of electricity by households in the EU rose by 18 per cent, according to Eurostat.

Electricity consumption per capita (in kWh/cap) in 2009

Final consumption of electricity in EU (2009)
X-axel %
Industry 36 36
Transport 3 3
Residential 31 31
Commercial and Public Services 28 28
Other 2 2

Source: IEA

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Final consumption of heat in EU (2009)
X-axel %
Industry 30 30
Residential 41 41
Commercial and Public Services 18 18
Other 11 11

Source: IEA

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Smart energy use at home

Many households can reduce their energy cost substantially by actively monitoring their electricity consumption, using more energy efficient appliances and improving insulation. Smart meters can help identify sources of energy waste. Solutions are also available for remote control of heating, ventilation and lighting, by mobile devices.

Solar panels or a small-scale wind turbine can further reduce the need to purchase electricity. The implementation of smart grids will allow traditional consumers to become net producers of electricity.

Energy efficiency for businesses

Energy accounts for a significant part of costs in many businesses. Most companies can reduce their energy usage by around 20 per cent, without the need for costly investments. A first step is to audit the current use of energy to improve the knowledge of the main areas of energy consumption, such as heating, water, ventilation and lighting. This could be done with a simple checklist, or in more detail with a smart meter that monitors the consumption of energy.

The audit can serve as a platform for the implementation of a long-term energy strategy, leading to reduced energy consumption, less environmental impact and lower costs.

Last updated: 2014-10-14 15:24