Dematerialisation is assumed to contribute significantly to the alleviation of environmental problems. One of the possible causes of dematerialisation is a change in the consumption patterns of households. The aim of this article is to analyse changes consumption patterns of Dutch households in the period between 1948 to 1996 in order to discover whether these changes haven influenced the energy intensity of society. Due to the rise in consumption, the total household energy requirement per capita grew on average by 2.4% per year over a period of 48 years (this figure ignores efficiency changes in the supplying sectors). In the same period the total energy intensity of households fluctuated but on average changed from 5.6 to 6.3 MJ/NLG, an increase of 0.25% per year. If we exclude the direct energy consumption we find a slight decline in the indirect energy intensity, namely from 3.8 to 3.6 MJ/NLG (-0.14% per year). No significant trends to a lower energy intensity are found and there is no indication of dematerialisation of the consumption patterns. If governments pursue a policy of sustainable development they have to take into account the fact that dematerialisation of the consumption pattern does not seem to be an autonomous process.
- Consumption pattern
- Domestic energy requirement