Theoretical vs. actual energy consumption of labelled dwellings in The Netherlands

Discrepancies and policy implications


  • Dasa Majcen TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Laure Itard TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Henk Visscher TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


energy consumption, Dutch dwellings


In Europe, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) provides for compulsory energy performance certification (labelling) for all existing dwellings. In the Netherlands, a labelling scheme was introduced in 2008. Certificates contain the energy label of the dwelling and corresponding theoretical gas and electricity consumption, calculated based on the dwellings physical characteristics, its heating, ventilation and cooling systems and standard use characteristics. This paper reports on a large-scale study comparing labels and theoretical energy use with data on actual energy use. A database of around 200,000 labels was coupled with data from Statistics Netherlands on actual gas and electricity consumption provided by energy companies. The study shows that dwellings with a low energy label actually consume much less energy than predicted by the label, but on the other hand, energy-efficient dwellings consume more than predicted. In practice, policy targets are set according to the theoretical rather than the actual consumptions of the building stock. In line with identified discrepancies, the study shows that whereas most energy reduction targets can be met according to the theoretical energy consumption of the dwelling stock, the future actual energy reduction potential is much lower and fails to meet most of the current energy reduction targets.