Energy: Italy, ENEA study on how to save 2.7 billion cubic metres of gas and 180 euros on household bills


Dialuce: promote a culture of efficiency for decarbonisation and reduce foreign dependency

Save almost 2.7 billion cubic metres of methane gas and reduce household bills by around 180 euros per year through a set of cost-saving measures in the residential sector. This in short is the objective of the study “Actions to reduce national gas demand in the residential sector” drawn up by ENEA and presented by its president Gilberto Dialuce during an online press event attended by the Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani, Snam CEO Stefano Venier, ANCI's national Energy and Waste delegate, Lecce mayor Carlo Salvemini and the director of ENEA's Energy Efficiency Department Ilaria Bertini.

The study explores two specific lines of action, namely “behavioural” measures and “administrative measures with particular reference to winter heating. These include lowering thermostats by 1 °C from the usual 20° to 19° to achieve national average domestic heating fuel savings of 10.7%, and also reducing lighting by one hour a day, which can contribute to a 3.6% decrease in consumption. By implementing these two measures at the same time, and also adding a 15-day reduction in the period when heating plants can operate, savings could reach 17.5%, i.e. about 2.7 billion cubic metres of gas (1.65 billion from the 1°C reduction and 550 million from the one-hour daily reduction). For families, these proposals could result in an overall saving at current prices of €178 per year per household.

On a behavioural level, the use of electric heat pumps installed for summer air conditioning as winter heaters, the reduction of gas use for domestic hot water and cooking, and lower electricity consumption through better use of household appliances can lead to savings of 3.6 billion cubic metres/year. A further 0.4 billion can be saved by replacing household appliances and air conditioners with high-efficiency models and installing LED lighting.

"Saving energy is an imperative, and at ENEA we want to make our contribution on the front of research, innovative technologies and the promotion of a culture of intelligent use of this commodity without renouncing comfort, in a perspective of decarbonisation and progressive reduction of supplies from abroad as early as this winter", noted President Dialuce. "The timely adoption of the measures indicated in the study, even discounting a reduction factor due to the difficulty of controlling non-centralised heating, could also make it possible to reduce the pressure on gas modulation storage for the coming winter. The government has taken extraordinary measures to fill them to at least 90% by October”, Dialuce added. "The ENEA study started with the residential sector, responsible for around 30% of final energy consumption and 12% of direct CO2 emissions, but it plans to extend it to the tertiary sector as well, with the precaution of distinguishing the utility consumption the measures do not apply to, such as hospitals and schools", he concluded.

"The behavioural initiatives, which depend on the public’s choices, should be supported with targeted information and communication campaigns, emphasising that by adopting more virtuous behaviour economic benefits can reach up to €240 per year per household", explained ENEA Energy Efficiency Department Director Ilaria Bertini. "If even just half of the households would adopt the measures that do not require an upfront expenditure, a saving of 1.8 billion cubic metres of gas could be achieved as early as next winter", Bertini added. But that is not all. "There is a need to raise consumer awareness through a direct correlation between domestic energy use, consumption and cost. The real key is precisely the pervasive deployment of measurement systems in buildings that can make consumers aware of the impact of contrary behaviour/attitudes and mitigate them through behavioural actions or the use of automatic control systems (building automation), which are now affordable, easy to install and have intuitive interfaces”, she concluded.

More in detail, the “administrative” measures proposed by ENEA (modification of the switch-on times of the systems and of the maximum allowed internal temperature) were defined using a methodology based on the definition of energy models applied to two “typical” dwellings representative of the Italian building stock: a flat in a multi-family building and a detached house. The energy requirements were calculated using the dynamic hourly method, repeating the simulations for each Italian climate zone, with several cities per zone, and taking into account the conventional periods when the systems were switched on and the current number of daily heating hours.

Average savings percentages were calculated for each climate zone, taking into account the varying proportions of apartments in the Italian housing stock (70% of dwellings) and single-family buildings (30%). These savings percentages were then applied to the volumes of natural gas for heating actually consumed in each zone. The results of this analytical calculation were also compared with the data provided by Snam on the overall winter volumes of gas delivered to the gas redelivery points of the city's distribution networks, and a good convergence was found.

Administrative and Behavioural Actions for the Reduction of National Methane Gas Demand (in italian language)
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