Energy Efficiency Indicators

In this report

This statistical report is designed to help understand what drives final energy use in IEA member countries in order to improve and track national energy efficiency policies. This is a comprehensive selection of data that the IEA has been collecting each year, after its members recognised in 2009 the need to better monitor energy efficiency policies. This year, the report continues to progressively expand its scope to countries beyond IEA. It includes country-specific analysis of end uses across the largest sectors – residential, services, industry and transport.

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Final energy consumption by end use

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Energy efficiency “the first fuel” is at the heart of clean energy transitions and the one energy resource that all countries possess in abundance. Strong energy efficiency policies are vital to achieving key energy-policy goals, and the so-called “multiple benefits” of energy efficiency, such as reducing energy bills, addressing climate change and air pollution, improving energy security and increasing energy access. Still, global policy coverage1 (35%) leaves many opportunities untapped and could be scaled up.

Reliable energy end-use data and indicators are key to inform and monitor the effectiveness of energy efficiency policies, as they show the drivers of energy demand.

Global energy use covered by policies, 2018


This report draws on previous editions of the Energy efficiency indicators – Highlights, providing an updated selection of data, collected by the IEA from member countries since 20092 and more recently, new countries beyond IEA. Based on such data, this chapter shows historical trends of energy use and an overview of the final energy-consuming sectors.

Globally, energy use and economic development have been decoupling, with gross domestic product (GDP) more than doubling between 1990 and 2018, whereas total energy supply (TES) grew by 59%.

World GDP and TES trends, 1990-2018


The amount of energy used to generate a unit of GDP, also called energy intensity of the economy (TES/‌GDP) decreased globally by 36% between 1990 and 2018, with large regional variations. In non-OECD this fall has been greater. For example, in China3, intensity more than halved (-70%) over this period.

Global energy intensity, 1990 compared to 2018


The energy intensity of a country’s economy is often used as an indicator of energy efficiency – mainly because, at an aggregate level, it is a proxy measurement for the energy required to satisfy the energy services demanded, and the fact that this indicator is relatively easily available to evaluate and compare across countries. However, a country with relatively low energy intensity does not necessarily have high energy efficiency. For instance, a small service-based country with a mild climate would have a lower intensity than a large industry-based country with a cold climate, even if energy is used more efficiently in the latter country. Equally, trends towards lower intensity are not necessarily driven by efficiency improvements.

Other elements also play a role in defining intensity levels and trends, including: the structure of the economy (share of large energy-consuming industries); geographic characteristics (e.g. longer distances implying higher demand for the transport sector); the overall climate and weather conditions (demand changes for heating or cooling); and the exchange rate.

That’s why it is important to conduct more detailed analysis that provides insight on the factors driving final energy use trends.

In the IEA6, the transport sector as a whole accounted for the highest share of final energy consumption4 in 20185 (35%), followed by manufacturing industry (24%) and the residential sector (20%).

Largest end-uses of energy by sector in selected IEA countries, 2018


Passenger cars alone used more energy than the whole residential sector and, together with freight road vehicles, they accounted for almost a third of final energy-related CO2 emissions. Transports position as leading overall consumption is influenced by the fact that in the United States, as in Canada and Australia, transport represented the largest consuming sector, in large extent, due to higher per-capita distances travelled and the use of larger vehicles.

Top ten CO2 emitting end uses in selected IEA countries, 2018


The manufacturing sector, driven by basic metals and chemicals sub-sectors, shows large shares in Belgium, Slovak Republic, Korea and Japan; and the share of the residential sector, with energy use dominated by space heating and appliances, was largest mainly in European countries.

In almost all the IEA countries, emissions for both residential space heating and appliances were larger than those of any manufacturing sub-sector. In some countries, like the Czech Republic, space heating was the largest emitting end use.

Space heating accounted for more than half of the IEA energy consumption in the residential sector, with the highest shares in European countries (73 % in Belgium and 72 % in Hungary) and typically the lowest shares in Asia and Oceania (Japan 26% and New Zealand 30%).

Energy efficiency improvements for space heating have occurred across IEA countries, mostly due to better insulation of buildings, refurbishment of old buildings, and improvements in heating equipment. The effects are tracked by trends in residential space heating intensity – defined as energy consumption per floor area – which significantly decreased in most IEA countries. For instance, Finland France, Germany and Korea have experienced reductions of over 30% since 2000.

Warmer countries generally have lower space heating intensities, as less energy is needed on average to keep the indoor temperature at a comfort level.

Shares of residential energy consumption by end use in selected IEA countries, 2018


Energy intensity per floor area of residential space heating in selected IEA countries, 2000-2018


In the IEA, the largest energy-consuming manufacturing sub-sectors7 in 2018 were basic metals (27%) and chemicals (22%), followed by paper and printing (12%) and food and tobacco (10%).

In terms of the structure of the manufacturing sector, the sub-sector with the largest value added was machinery8 (33%), followed by transport equipment (15%) and chemicals (14%).

Manufacturing value added by sub-sector in selected IEA countries, 2018


Manufacturing energy consumption by sub-sector in IEA countries, 2018


The intensities of the manufacturing sub-sectors (energy consumption per value added) vary greatly. Within manufacturing, basic metals and paper and printing are the most energy intensive sub-sectors, while machinery is the least intensive one. The energy intensity of services is lower than that of all manufacturing sub-sectors.

Manufacturing and services: selected intensities in selected IEA countries, 2018


The manufacturing energy intensity of a country depends on the relative weight of the different sub-sectors in the manufacturing mix. For example, intensity is particularly high in countries like Finland, where the very energy-intensive paper and printing industry represented about 58% of total manufacturing energy consumption in 2018.

Energy intensity of manufacturing in selected IEA countries, 2000-2018


Manufacturing intensity has decreased over time in most IEA countries. For example, in the United States it decreased 44% between 2000-18, due to efficiency improvements mainly in chemicals and basic metals, but also because of increasing shares of less intensive sub-sectors, like machinery.

Changes over time in the importance of different sub-sectors in the manufacturing mix can significantly affect the overall sectoral intensity, as does a change in the economic structure from manufacturing to services. Identifying and removing the effects of structural changes from those of energy efficiency is therefore essential (see section Cross sectoral energy efficiency trends below).

Energy consumption for transport9 in the IEA is dominated by road vehicles (89%), with passenger cars and freight road together representing about 86%. Air (domestic) accounts for 7%; water (domestic) and rail transport account together for roughly 4%.

Energy consumption in transport in IEA countries, 2018


Across IEA countries, motor gasoline10 remains the dominant fuel for passenger cars even though the share of diesel increased from 8% in 2000 to 16% in 2018. Freight road energy consumption is dominated by diesel in all countries.

Passenger transport intensity (energy per passenger-kilometre) indicates the amount of energy used to move one passenger over a distance of one km. Intensity levels vary across countries depending on the share of modes (e.g. road, air, water, rail), the vehicle types in the mix (e.g. passenger cars, buses, etc.) and the average occupancy (passengers per vehicle) – which in many countries has decreased over time.

Energy consumption in road transport in selected IEA countries, 2000-2018


Passenger transport intensity is particularly high in countries like the United States, due to the large use of passenger cars (with a high share of Sport Utility Vehicles, SUVs) and domestic flights, compared to more efficient transportation like buses and trains. Conversely, it is lower in countries like France, where rail transport is more common.

Passenger transport intensity has been decreasing in most countries due to modal shift and improvements in passenger cars efficiency, like in the United Kingdom (-16% from 2000 to 2018). However, improvements have been partly offset by lower occupancy of vehicles.

Energy intensity of passenger transport in selected IEA countries, 2000-2018


Decomposition analysis allows for breaking down energy demand growth into activity, structure and efficiency factors. In IEA member countries, it is estimated that improvements in energy efficiency since 2000 avoided around 20% more energy use in 2018, an amount greater than the final energy consumption of India. The industry sector accounted for 42% of these savings, buildings for 38% and transport for the remaining fifth.

Estimated savings of final energy use in IEA countries, 2000-2018


Energy efficiency improvements deliver significant benefits for the climate, national budgets and for energy consumers. For example, efficiency savings reduce energy use and expenditure, which improves affordability, particularly for households. The efficiency gains since 2000 in IEA member countries resulted in the avoidance of over 15% or USD 600 billion more energy expenditure for fuels for heating, road transport and a range of other energy end uses.

Rising levels of activity, driven by economic and population growth, create more demand for energy services such as mobility, heating, cooling and light, which pushes up energy use. Between 2018 and 2019, activity factors alone would have increased global primary energy demand by 17 EJ.

Decomposition of change in global primary energy use, 2018-2019


However, changes in the structure of the global economy, weather conditions as well as improvements in the average energy efficiency of the world’s cars, appliances, industrial processes, power plants and other energy-using equipment contributed to limiting energy demand growth.

Although energy efficiency represented around 70% of the effects that decreased energy demand in 2019, total energy savings from efficiency were around 5% lower than in the previous year. This decline reflects, in part, stagnation in the passing of new energy efficiency policies in recent years. Only a little over one third of final energy use is covered by policies that mandate energy efficiency improvements, according to current estimates.

Another major factor was slower economic growth, which reduced purchases of new equipment covered by energy efficiency regulations, thereby slowing the replacement of inefficient stock.

Finally, in some countries, economic stimulus for industry led to ageing, less efficient facilities staying in operation, reducing the overall energy efficiency of the capital stock.

  1. Policy coverage refers to the share of total final energy use that is estimated to be subject to mandatory policies and regulations.

  2. Time series collected generally start in 1990. This edition includes also data for Brazil, Chile, Lithuania, Morocco and for nine countries under the EU4Energy programme

  3. Including the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong, China.

  4. In this publication, for the purposes of studying energy efficiency, final energy consumption is computed to include oil and gas extraction; coal mining; blast furnaces and coke ovens energy and transformation losses; and to exclude non-energy use, military consumption, and pipeline transport. This definition differs from that in the energy balances.

  5. The latest year for which detailed energy use data were available for most IEA countries at the time of preparation of this publication.

  6. For the charts in this section, "IEA countries" refers to twenty-four IEA member countries for which data covering most end-uses area available: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries represented about 92% of the total IEA final energy consumption for 2018.

  7. In this publication, the services sector is analysed together with industry due to limitations in end-use data availability. Industry includes manufacturing industry, agriculture/fishing, mining and construction. 

  8. Includes ISIC Divisions 25-28: Manufacture of fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment; manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products; manufacture of electrical equipment; manufacture of machinery and equipment not elsewhere specified. 

  9. Transport excludes international aviation, marine bunkers and pipeline transport.

  10. In this publication, gasoline and diesel include the biofuel components.