ENERGY consumption fell to levels last seen in 2000 last year and has continued to fall again in the transport sector this year, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland said yesterday.
Energy used by the average household has slumped 16pc since the economic crisis began in 2007, the SEAI added in a report.
The figures have been adjusted for changes in weather which affect energy consumption from year-to-year, but they have not been adjusted for population.
We are using the same amount of energy as we did at the turn of the century, although almost one million more people live here today.
The plunge in energy consumption is due to a mixture of factors, including the economic slowdown and improved efficiency in homes, cars and factories.
More than 150,000 homes have used government grants to upgrade their energy efficiency, although this is still a long way from the government target of one million homes by 2020.
Ireland imports 88pc of its energy needs at a cost of €6bn a year. Energy use in industry slid 1.4pc last year, while energy use in transport fell 3.8pc.
Energy use in buildings such as offices fell 1.2pc when adjusted for cold weather. Service industries saw a 1.1pc increase – a sign that this sector of the economy is still booming.
While renewables such as windmills and hydro-electric power are slowly generating more energy, the percentage is still far below the official target.
We currently get 6.4pc of our energy from renewable sources, compared to a 2020 target of 16pc. The fall in energy usage has pushed down carbon dioxide emissions to 1998 levels.
Car emissions have plummeted. Petrol use for vehicles tumbled 5.3pc this year while diesel fell 0.6pc.
Nineteen out of 20 cars sold in Ireland these days come within the top three emission bands, the SEIA added. That means that car emissions are the seventh lowest in the EU.