Feature Report: Everyday Energy

4 items of content in this feature report

Going in depth

Close-up

Energy, Ever-Present in Our Daily Lives

Everything we do requires energy, but we only really notice when it’s time to pay. Whether for home heating and electricity, gasoline or other consumer goods, bills and invoices increasingly include information about the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the products and services we use. 

fr - l'énergie vie quotidienne
A "house of the future" at the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 in Versailles, France. © DA SILVA AUGUSTO - TOTAL

Household Consumption 

How much does your family spend on energy for heating, electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor... to powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... their various devices, and transportation? Of course, this depends on their consumption habits, the size of their home, their modes of transportation and the energy sources used, which vary in cost – but it can be useful to look at averages. 

On average, each French household spends 9% of its budget (€3,000/year) on energy for its household and transportation needs.

 

Around 9% of a household’s budget in France is spent on energy-related costs,1 a relatively stable proportion that soared during the oil crises but is now back under control. However, fuelFuel is any solid, liquid or gaseous substance or material that can be combined with an oxidant... costs have risen significantly over the past two years. The other major expenses for families, accounting in total for over 90% of budgets, are rent, food, clothing and consumer goods, schooling and leisure activities. 

How Do Household Energy Costs Fit into Budgets? 

Households spend an average of slightly more than €1,500 per year on their home’s energy needs, with over €900 of that on electricity.2 Taxes (VAT, energy taxes) account for nearly a third of these costs. According to the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME3), heating and domestic hot water make up around 72% of energy bills, with household appliances and multimedia products representing 21% and cooking 7%. The proportion spent on heating can of course vary greatly depending on weather conditions in winter and geographic location. 

What About Private Transportation?  

Households on average spend the same amount on private transportation, i.e., just over €1,500 on fuel (excluding vehicle purchase and maintenance costs). Taxes represent 59% of this total cost and are rising steeply, particularly as a result of the introduction of the climate-energy contribution in France and the harmonization of dieselDiesel is the name of an internal combustion engine that works by compression-ignition... and gasoline taxes. Transportation costs vary greatly from region to region, with people living in the greater Paris region spending 16% of their total budget on private and public transportation, compared with 21% in the rest of France. 

Working Towards Responsible Consumption 

In an effort to reduce the energy consumption of households and therefore their carbon footprintThe carbon footprint (also known as greenhouse gas inventory) of a good or service measures the impact human activities have on the environment ... , i.e., carbon dioxide (co₂)Along with water vapor, carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas (GHG) in the Earth's atmosphere... emissions, steps have been taken by public authorities, who have introduced various regulations, and by manufacturers, who are continually improving insulation materials and technologies. 

72%: The average proportion of a household’s energy budget that goes towards heating (and domestic hot water).

Everybody's Business

Improving energy efficiencyIn economic terms, energy efficiency refers to the efforts made to reduce the energy consumption of a system... isn’t just a job for governments and industries. Consumers are also increasingly involved. 

A few simple habits adopted by well-informed consumers can have a major impact on energy performance in households, transportation and consumer goods if lots of people do them (see CloseUp: “In Our Daily Lives: Everyday Energy-Saving Tips”).