At a glance
- Energy use in private households has fallen by 7.7 % since 2000.
- This development can largely be attributed to the reduction in energy consumption in the “living” sector, which has fallen by 12.7 % within the same period.
- Carbon dioxide emissions in private households show a similar fluctuation pattern to that of energy consumption.
The less energy is consumed, the less resources are needed at both national and international level. In addition, the emission of climate-damaging CO2 emissions can be reduced through economical energy consumption. For this reason, the Federal Government has made it a goal of the National Sustainable Development Strategy to continuously reduce the energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of private households (BReg 2016).
Private households use environmental resources both directly and indirectly through their consumption activities. Direct energy is the energy consumed immediately in consumption activities, for example by heating or as fuel for cars. The energy needed to manufacture consumer goods is known as indirect energy or the energy content of the goods. This also includes the energy used abroad to manufacture consumer goods imported into Germany.
This indicator shows developments in the areas of living, food, transport, products and services. It provides an indication of the success of measures, or identifies the need for further environmental policy action.
Assessing the development
Energy use in private households has fallen by 7.7 % since 2000. The development was fluctuating until 2010. Since then, a slight but not yet stable downward trend has been observed.
The largest decline in energy consumption between 2000 and 2015 was recorded in the living sector (-12.7 %) and in the manufacturing of products (-12.2 %). For transport (-2.1 %), food (-1.0 %) and services (-3.8 %), only slight downward trends could be observed. Living still accounts for the largest share of energy services of private households.
Developments in the consumer areas are usually characterised by contradictory effects. Efficiency gains can be achieved, for example, by improving thermal insulation, by increasing the availability of energy-efficient consumer products or by using more fuel-efficient vehicles. However, these gains are mostly moderated by higher or more demanding consumption. Important factors in this regard are the increase in living space per capita, the greater prevalence and use of equipment, e. g. for equipping computers and smartphones, increasing traffic performance and the trend towards more powerful cars. In terms of foodstuffs the continued high meat consumption is a decisive factor for the persistent high energy and CO₂ demand.
Direct energy use is based on data from the Working Group on Energy Balances. The System for Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting was used to allocate consumption to specific areas of demand and calculate the energy content of consumer goods. The methodology is described in a research paper (UBA 2014, in German only). Calculating the indirect environmental footprint is particularly challenging. It is done by consulting input-output tables showing the intersectoral connectedness of the German economy (Destatis 2015, in German only).
More detailed information: 'Einkommen, Konsum, Energienutzung, Emissionen privater Haushalte' (in German only).