This paper examines the historical background, current context and future challenges for housing energy consumption in Denmark. There has been a radical transformation in housing energy consumption over the last 30 years, with an absolute reduction in heat consumption and a rapid growth in electricity consumption, reflecting wider technological and social transformations in the movement from an industrial to a knowledge based society. In new housing it is shown that electricity consumption now dominates the total primary energy consumption, and that as a consequence traditional heat saving paradigms are relatively less effective, and can result in overheating and rising electricity consumption. At the same time, climate change concerns show that rising temperatures will in the future result in a falling heat demand and increasing cooling demand in housing. With this background, a theoretical framework is proposed for defining low-energy paradigms, based on which components of energy consumption are regulated. It is shown that there has been a historical movement from older, narrow paradigms to newer, broader paradigms in Denmark, best exemplified by the movement towards zero-energy housing.
Building Research and Information, 2010, Vol 38, Issue 1, p. 92-106