EU energy use continues to grow

Electricity consumption in the EU is growing, despite the extensive efficiency drive being promoted by member states.

A report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) shows increases across all sectors – residential, service and industry.

But consumption in each household could be greatly reduced if replacement of existing appliances and equipment, and a full phase out of incandescent lighting, is actively encouraged.

Protecting the environment ranks second only to terrorism among issues European citizens think are best addressed at EU level.

The European Union has already adopted many successful measures in its bid to curb energy consumption and CO2 emissions. An action plan last year set a target of 20 per cent less energy consumption by 2020.

The recent JRC findings show that new measures have led to some improvements, particularly in the case of “white goods”, such as refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers.

But the report also points to widespread use of dishwashers, tumble driers, air conditioners and personal computers.

In addition, satellite TV boxes, DVD players, broadband equipment and cordless telephones have had a big impact on consumption.

Other important factors include households with several of the same sort of appliance, mainly TVs, friges and freezers.

Household electronics left on stand-by have a significant effect on consumption. But new technology now makes it possible for manufacturers to produce equipment with very low stand-by losses.

JRC researchers noted that, as older equipment is updated in a household, it is often transferred to other parts of the home instead of being replaced – contributing to greater electricity consumption.

Many countries, such as Australia, have advocated the phasing out of wasteful incandescent lighting. The report suggests this policy could be adopted by EU member states.

The JRC report also contains tips for reducing energy consumption, such as switching to solar energy water heaters.

Kath Grant

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