Housing and energy in Denmark: Past, present, and future challenges

Rob Marsh*, Vibeke Grupe Larsen, Mikkel Kragh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The historical background, current context and future challenges are examined for residential 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. As a consequence, traditional heat-saving paradigms are relatively less effective, and can result in overheating and rising electricity consumption. At the same time, rising temperatures in the future due to climate change will result in falling heat demand and increasing cooling demand in housing. With this context, a theoretical framework is proposed for defining low-energy paradigms based on which components of energy consumption can be 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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)92-106
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Electricity consumption
  • Heat consumption
  • Housing stock
  • Low-energy housing
  • Low-energy regulation
  • New-build housing
  • Primary energy reductions


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