Residential Energy Use and Conservation: Economics and Demographics
- Published in European Economic Review
- Sustainable Real Estate
Energy consumption in the residential sector offers an important opportunity for conserving resources. However, much of the current debate regarding energy efficiency in the housing market focuses on the physical and technical determinants of energy consumption, neglecting the role of the economic behavior of resident households. In this paper, we analyze the extent to which the use of gas and electricity is determined by the technical specifications of the dwelling as compared to the demographic characteristics of the residents. Our analysis is based on a sample of more than 300,000 Dutch homes and their occupants. The results indicate that residential gas consumption is determined principally by structural dwelling characteristics, such as the vintage, building type and characteristics of the dwelling, while electricity consumption varies more directly with household composition, in particular income and family composition. Combining these results with projections on future economic and demographic trends, we find that, even absent price increases for residential energy, the aging of the population and their increasing wealth will roughly offset improvements in the energy efficiency of the building stock resulting from policy interventions and natural revitalization.