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Energy intensity of the residential sector

In 2013, the energy consumption of the residential sector in the Brussels-Capital Region was 15,000 kWh per household, on average.
The energy intensity of the residential sector (at a constant climate) reached its peak in 1999. A decrease of 31% was observed between 1999 and 2013, essentially due to a decrease in heating needs. A significant increase in electricity consumption per household was actually observed until 2005, followed by a subsequent reduction.

Context

The energy intensity is the relationship between the amount of energy a sector consumes and a variable that represents this sector. Hence, a higher energy intensity corresponds to:

  • Either a greater consumption of energy per unit of the variable considered,
  • Or a reduction in the representative variable used (decrease in the value of the denominator in the ratio calculated).

In the residential sector, the consumption unit equals one household. The residential energy intensity is therefore determined in relation to the number of households and can be estimated based on the total final consumption within the residential sector (excluding transport). This is estimated, with or without climatic correction, in the context of the regional energy balances. As a reminder: the climatic correction is aimed at identifying the effect of the meteorological characteristics for the relevant year and therefore at giving an idea of the evolution of the energy consumption at a constant climate.

It should be noted that a major revision of the methodology used for drawing up the Brussels energy balance is currently in progress, and will have an impact on the results of this indicator from the data pertaining to 2014.

Evolution of the residential energy intensity

Evolution of the residential energy intensity (in relation to the number of households) in the Brussels Region, with and without climatic correction of the energy consumption
Source: Regional energy balances 1990-2013 and BISA according to the figures of the Directorate-General of Statistics and Economic Information (DGSEI), calculations by Brussels Environment

As a reminder: the climatic correction is aimed at identifying the influence of the meteorological characteristics for the relevant year and therefore at giving an idea of the evolution of the energy consumption at a constant climate (in comparison to the climate of 1990 in this case).


In 2013, the energy consumption per household in the Brussels-Capital Region was 15,000 kWh, on average.

The energy consumption, and therefore intensity, of households is clearly influenced by the meteorological characteristics of the year in question (cfr. the differences between the two curves on the chart).

The intensity per household with a climate correction reached its peak in 1999, and has since shown a downward trend which has become more pronounced since 2006. A decrease of 31% in energy intensity was therefore observed between 1999 and 2013.

Residential energy intensity, per energy source

Evolution of the residential energy intensity in the Brussels Region (in relation to the energy consumption per household for which the year 1990 = 100), according to the energy source
Source: Regional energy balances 1990-2011 and BISA according to the figures of the Directorate-General of Statistics and Economic Information (DGSEI), calculations by Brussels Environment

The overall trend can be clarified by analysing the evolution of the intensity per energy source: the recent decrease in the total intensity for this sector can be attributed to the clearly diminished heating requirements (reflected in the consumption of fuel) per household. As for the electricity consumption, on the other hand, a strong increase was observed until 2007, since then followed by a decline.

Explanatory factors

This evolution can be explained by various factors, including:

  • the increase in the cost of energy, which is highly likely to be the reason for behaviour which reduces energy consumption, bearing in mind the socio-economic characteristics of the Brussels population (the lowest average income of the 3 Belgian Regions, and due to a more uneven distribution, the median income is also lower) (according to the tax data of Statbel, published by the BISA);
  • the improvement of the building stock (among other things, due to building insulation or better quality new constructions). It should be noted however that the Brussels housing stock is characterised by a significant proportion of tenants (61% according to the Census 2011), which has an influence on the potential for the energy enhancement of the existing building stock;
  • the improvement in the energy efficiency of equipment used (household appliances for example);
  • the evolution of the socio-economic characteristics of the Brussels population (growth rate, composition of households, standard of living, etc.) and their equipment (type and level of comfort of the property stock, electric and electronic equipment, etc.);
  • the effect of behaviour which reduces energy consumption, either imposed (for example via regulation) or voluntary (following awareness-raising among the population with regards to environmental issues and resource saving): limiting the temperature of building heating, etc. The energy and mobility policies pursued by the public authorities also come into play here.
Date de mise à jour: 13/11/2018