Energy Efficiency

, Volume 11, Issue 8, pp 2111–2135 | Cite as

Energy efficiency in the residential sector: identification of promising policy instruments and private initiatives among selected European countries

  • Gianluca TrottaEmail author
  • Joachim Spangenberg
  • Sylvia Lorek
Original Article


Improving residential energy efficiency is widely recognised as one of the best strategies for reducing energy demand, combating climate change, and increasing security of energy supply. However, progress has been slow to date due to a number of market and behavioural barriers that have not been adequately addressed by energy efficiency policies and programmes. This study is based on updated findings of the European Futures for Energy Efficiency Project that responds to the EU Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014–2015 theme ‘Secure, clean and efficient energy’. This article draws on five case studies from selected European countries—Finland, Italy, Hungary, Spain, and the UK—and evaluates recent energy efficiency developments in terms of indicators, private initiatives, and policy measures in the residential sector. Our analysis shows that the UK government has implemented a better range of policies, coupled with initiatives from the private sector, aimed at improving energy efficiency. However, its existing conditions appear to be more problematic than the other countries. On the other hand, the lack of effective and targeted policies in Finland resulted in increased energy consumption, while in Hungary, Spain and Italy some interesting initiatives, especially in terms of financial and fiscal incentives, have been found.


Energy efficiency policy Residential sector European Union NEEAPs ESCOs 



The authors would like to thank József Slezák and Edina Vadovics for the information provided about Hungary, and the participants of the ‘3rd RSEP Multidisciplinary Conference’ (April 5–7, 2017) in Vienna and the ‘Biennial International Workshop Advances in Energy Studies’ (September 25–28, 2017) in Naples for their comments. We are also thankful to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the earlier version of this paper.

Funding information

This work has been supported by the European Commission under the project grant EUFORIE/H2020-EE-2014-2015-RIA/649342.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12053_2018_9739_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (22 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Accounting and Finance, EconomicsUniversity of VaasaVaasaFinland
  2. 2.Sustainable Europe Research InstituteCologneGermany

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