Effective policies for reducing household energy use: Insights from Norway

July 2022
Applied Energy

In Norway, stationary energy use in the housing sector grew steeply from the 1970 s to the beginning of the 1990 s, however over the last decades it has reached a saturation level. This article explains why Norway energy use increased at a different rate from 1990 to 2019 (0.15 percent per year) compared to development from 1970 to 1990 (2.4 percent per year). It asks: What explains the actual change in energy use since 1990? How might the choice of different mixes of energy policy measures affect household energy use towards 2030? A complex dynamic model was developed to understand the factors affecting stationary energy use in the housing sector and our analyses highlight three variables that explain the shift in trend: (1) lower growth in in dwelling area per person, (2) lower energy use per m2 and (3) changes in outdoor temperature. Our study helps examine changes in overarching policy during the period from growth towards reducing stationary energy use in the housing sector. In Norway, the goal is to reduce energy use by 10 TWh in existing buildings by 2030, compared with the 2016 level. Should the housing sector take its share this imply a 5 TWh reduction by 2030. To achieve a reduction of 5 TWh by 2030, we conclude that we need to utilize very different policy instruments. The living area per person need to decline and a redistribution of area from detached houses to apartment blocks, thus indicating that an effective policy will be maximum standards for housing consumption per capita. Renovation of existing buildings will also have a major effect and should be applied to reduce gross heating demand and energy for water heating, thus instruments to create supply and demand and new business opportunities for renovation and energy efficiency should be promoted.