Performance gaps in energy consumption: household groups and building characteristics


The difference between actual and calculated energy is called the ‘energy-performance gap’. Possible explanations for this gap are construction mistakes, improper adjusting of equipment, excessive simplification in simulation models and occupant behaviour. Many researchers and governmental institutions think the occupant is the main cause of this gap. However, only limited evidence exists for this. Therefore, an analysis is presented of actual and theoretical energy consumption based on specific household types and building characteristics. Using a large dataset (1.4 million social housing households), the average actual and theoretical energy consumptions (gas and electricity) of different household types and characteristics (income level, type of income, number of occupants and their age) were compared for each energy label. Additionally, the 10% highest and lowest energy-consuming groups were analysed. The use of combinations of occupant characteristics instead of individual occupant characteristics provides new insights into the influence of the occupant on energy demand. For example, in contrast to previous studies, low-income households consume more gas per m2 (space heating and hot water) than households with a high income for all types of housing. Furthermore, the performance gap is caused not only by the occupant but also by the assumed building characteristics.


big data; energy consumption; energy epidemiology; energy performance; household energy; occupant behaviour; performance gap


Paula van den Brom(*), Arjen Meijer(*) and Henk Visscher(*)

(*) OTB – Research for the Built Environment, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands

Performance gaps in energy consumption household groups and building characteristics