Understanding consumption in the domestic sector

Energy consumption in the domestic sector or, in other words, the consumption of our homes, represents around 18% of the total final energy consumption in Portugal. This consumption occurs in different forms of energy: electricity (refrigerator, television, computers, etc.), natural gas and propane gas (stove, heating sanitary water), wood and vegetable waste, heating oil, among others.

How much energy do we consume?

The advancement of technology has allowed the appearance of increasingly efficient equipment, from refrigerators and washing machines to lighting, air conditioning and water heating systems.

More efficient systems and equipment allow a reduction in energy consumption and, therefore, a lower bill. But still, how has domestic consumption in Portugal evolved over the years?

The most recent data for the 2008-2018 period show slight variations in the energy consumption of this sector, as can be seen in figure 1. The economic crisis certainly had an impact on consumers, with a decrease in consumption between 2009 and 2013. In the the following year, there is some recovery, however consumption in the domestic sector does not return to values ​​similar to those of 2008/2009.

In the last decade, domestic consumption has decreased by more than 10%, which is quite relevant, considering that in the same period the number of residential accommodation increased by about 7%, as can be seen in figure 2.

Figure 1 – Evolution of energy consumption in the domestic sector in Portugal (Source: Observatório da Energia)

Figure 2 – Evolution in the number of households in Portugal (Source: INE)

Thus, even though there are more accommodations in 2018, they consume less energy than the existing accommodations in 2008.

The improvement of the construction of the residential building in its energy aspect (better quality of the construction elements, thermal gains, etc.), as well as, the acquisition of more energy efficient appliances and a greater awareness on the part of the families regarding energy waste in the their homes, may be, among others, factors / contributions that underlie the improvement of the energy performance of the residential sector in Portugal.


We already know that the amount of energy consumed in the domestic sector is dependent on a varied set of factors, from technological to economic and demographic. But what kind of energy do we consume in our homes?

In 2018, 39% of the energy consumed in the domestic sector was in the form of electricity and 37% came from renewable energy sources, including solar thermal energy, firewood and vegetable waste and heat pumps. In smaller quantities, making up 15% of total consumption, come petroleum products, including LPG (such as butane gas) and heating diesel. Finally, we have natural gas with 9%.

And 10 years ago, did we consume the same forms of energy?

Figure 3 – Percentage of the energy source in 2008 (Source: Observatório da Energia)

Figure 4 – Percentage of the energy source in 2018 (Source: Observatório da Energia)

As seen in Figures 3 and 4, there have been slight changes in energy consumption in the domestic sector in the past 10 years. Among these, it is important to highlight the evolution of the consumption of renewable energies without electricity. Although, a decade later, the share remains at 37%, the sources from which renewable energy comes have changed.

Figure 5 – Percentage of Renewable Energies (without electricity) in 2008 (Source: Observatório da Energia)

Figure 6 – Percentage of Renewable Energies (without electricity) in 2018 (Source: Observatório da Energia)

In 2008, wood and vegetable waste, used in the production of hot water for air conditioning and in domestic hot water, represented practically all consumption of renewable energy sources in the domestic sector. Solar thermal energy, used mainly for heating sanitary waters, saw its share double, from 2% in 2008 to 4% in 2018.

There was also the introduction of heat pumps as a renewable energy source, representing 25% of the total consumption of renewables in the domestic sector in 2018. Thus, wood and vegetable waste, which represented 98% of the consumption of renewables in 2008, accounted for 71% in 2018.

For more information, visit the Observatório da Energia.

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