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Irish homes enjoy a fall in energy consumption

New report from the SEAI reveals that households in Ireland have become more energy efficient in recent years

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has announced that energy consumption in domestic households fell by nearly 20% between 2006 and 2011.

At the same time improvements to energy efficiency trebled compared to the previous ten years, with improved insulation, draught proofing, cavity wall insulation and more efficient heating among the key factors contributing to the reduction in energy use.

The SEAI report, Residential Energy in Ireland (2013), is the most detailed study of energy use in homes in Ireland and is an important source of data for policy makers planning the future distribution of energy in the country.

Successful policy-making

Kevin O’Rourke, Head of Low Carbon Technologies at SEAI, highlighted the figures as proof that initiatives to enforce energy efficient improvements, both in new build properties and retrospectively, were working.

Under Building Regulations introduced in 2011, a newly-constructed home in Ireland will use less than one fifth of energy that a home built in the 1970s used.

In response Mr O’Rourke commented, “The continued strengthening of our Building Regulations, among the most demanding in Europe, and the success of the Government’s energy and retrofitting policies and Better Energy schemes are clearly paying dividends.”

During 2011, the 1.65 occupied million homes in Ireland – 25% of which were built since the turn of the century – spent a combined total of €3 billion on energy, an average of €2,000 per property.

However, the fall in consumer spending on energy represented a €56 million reduction with significant numbers of properties achieving the more energy efficient C and D ratings as a result of home improvements.

Mr O’Rourke challenged the notion that increasing energy prices are responsible for the fall in domestic spending on electricity and gas, arguing that the available research does not prove householders’ motivations in cutting their energy use.

The SEAI report highlights that, in the short term at least, consumption does not appear to be linked to rising energy prices. One study concluded that energy use falls by less than 1% even if prices increase by over 10%.

A greener future

Maintaining the reduction in energy consumption – and therefore carbon emissions – is clearly a priority for the SEAI and consumers in Ireland.

Mr O’Rourke says, “We need to maintain the momentum in the vibrant retrofit sector which is worth hundreds of millions of euro and thousands of jobs. We also need to look to smarter more advanced solutions such as smart meters which can inform consumer energy usage habits.”