Natural gas consumption nearly reduced by half over the past three decades

04/12/2008 15:00

Household gas consumption in the Netherlands averaged nearly 1,400 cubic metres in 2007, a reduction by almost half relative to 1978. The decrease is partly due to improved insulation of houses and milder winters in recent years. 

Insulation of houses considerably improved

Last year, more than 9 in 10 houses were double-glazed. Additionally, 60 percent of dwellings had roof insulation and over 60 percent had cavity wall insulation. The average Dutch house has been insulated in at least two different ways. Insulation of existing homes has improved and more strict regulations with respect to insulation of new homes were imposed. 

Thirty years ago, insulation of houses was a relatively unknown phenomenon in the Netherlands. Fewer than 1 in 3 dwellings were double-glazed and only 20 percent had roof and cavity wall insulation. The remarkable improvement of insulation methods has brought down household gas consumption.

Gas consumption and temperature

Warmer winters

There is a reverse relationship between outside temperature and gas consumption: the lower the temperature outside, the higher the gas consumption. This became obvious in 1996, when gas consumption peaked due to the exceptionally cold winter. In the period 1978–2008, the temperature in the Netherlands has risen marginally. Warming also had a mitigating effect on gas consumption. 

The decrease in gas consumption may also be affected by the reduction in size of the average household from 2.83 persons in 1978 to 2.25 persons in 2007.

Households living in well-insulated homes

Households living in well-insulated homes

Households spend considerably more on natural gas

The average household gas bill was 838 euro in 2007. The price of natural gas has risen distinctly in recent years. The new  energy tax introduced in 1996 also contributed to the cost increase. In 2000, the average household had a gas bill of 511 euro converted to the 2007 price level. Yet, current spending on gas is still below the level of the early 1980s. In 1985, when the gas price reached its peak, the average household would have spent nearly a thousand euro on gas annually, converted to the current price level.

Household spending on natural gas (constant prices 2007)

Household spending on natural gas (constant prices 2007)

Carin van der Ploeg and Clemens Siermann