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Census data shows change of occupants linked with switch from using solid fuels

An analysis of the central heating fuels reported in the 2011 and 2016 Censuses of Population shows that occupied private households using oil, natural gas, and electricity as their main central heating fuel were much more likely to have been using those fuels in both the 2011 and 2016 censuses. The percentage of households using natural gas in 2011 that were still using natural gas in 2016 was 94%. The figure for oil was 87% and for electricity it was 74% (see Table A and Table 1A1).

There was more willingness to change from using solid fuels. Around 56% of households using coal as their main central heating fuel in 2011 were still using coal in 2016 while for wood it was 49%. Just over one-fifth (21%) of households using coal in 2011 switched to oil in 2016. For households using wood in 2011, 26% were using oil in 2016 and 17% were using coal or peat.

The figure for households using peat in both censuses was 69% suggesting other factors, such as availability of the fuel locally, should be taken account of when analysing willingness to change from solid fuels.

Table A: Percentage of occupied private households using same central heating fuel in 2011 and 2016
% using same fuel in 2011 and 2016
Heating TypeSame OccupantsDifferent Occupants All Occupied Private Households
No central heating38%13%30%
Oil88%82%87%
Natural gas96%89%94%
Electricity73%75%74%
Coal61%38%56%
Peat73%48%69%
LPG58%16%48%
Wood53%24%49%
Other43%9%35%
Not stated3%3%3%
 
 
 

In cases where the same family was living in the household in both censuses, the percentage of households using coal in both censuses increased to 61% from 56% for all households using coal in both censuses. In contrast, where there was a change of occupants the figure for households still using coal decreased to 38% indicating that a change of occupants is more likely to result in a change from using coal as the main central heating fuel (see Tables 1A2 and 1A3). House sales, a change in the household composition, and major renovation work are likely to be factors behind a change in the central heating system.

This report is an analysis of the 2011 and 2016 Censuses of Population from an environmental perspective - only a limited set of Census questions such as central heating fuel, type of building, period of construction, and tenure status are analysed. This report should not be used for absolute census figures as we excluded communal households, private households that were not occupied on Census night, as well as some other differences. 


Household type

Almost two-thirds of occupied detached houses used oil as their central heating fuel in 2016 (63%). In 2016 the percentage of occupied semi-detached households using oil was 35%. This rate dropped to 22% for terraced houses and to 3% for purpose-built apartments. In contrast only 12% of occupied detached houses used natural gas as their main central heating fuel in 2016 but this proportion increased to 50% for semi-detached houses and 58% for terraced houses. Electricity was the main central heating fuel for 47% of purpose-built apartments. Around 10% of detached houses in both 2011 and 2016 used peat as their main central heating fuel (see Tables 2A1 and 2A2).

% occupied private households using peat
Detached house78.7
Semi-detached house13.4
Terraced house6.3
Flat/Apartment purpose-built0.4

Period of construction

Period of construction has an influence on main central heating fuel with around 16% of dwellings built during the period 2011-2016 using electricity reflecting the movement towards more purpose-built apartments. Oil was the most used fuel in 2016 in households built up to 1945 accounting for 42% of households built before 1919 and 38% of those built between 1919 and 1945. Gas was the most used central heating fuel in occupied households in 2016 that were built between 1946 and 1960. Oil was the predominant fuel in households constructed during 1961 and 2000 (see Table 2B2).

% of occupied private households from period of construction
Before 191919.5
1919-194519.7
1946-196015.4
1961-197012.1
1971-198014.1
1981-199017.2
1991-200010.7
2001-20107.9
2011-20169.5
All households13.6

Household composition

Around 46% of occupied private households with no central heating in 2016 were occupied by one person while 36% of occupied households using electricity in 2016 were occupied by one person (see Table 2C2). 

County and Dublin postal district

The county with the highest proportion of occupied private households using coal was Wexford at 15% in 2011 and at 16% in 2016. Donegal had similar high figures for coal at 12% in 2011 and 15% in 2016. Offaly had the highest percentage of occupied households using peat as their main central heating fuel at 34% in 2011 and at 38% in 2016. In contrast almost three-quarters of occupied households in South Dublin, Fingal, and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown used natural gas as their main central heating fuel in both 2011 and 2016 (see Tables 2D1 and 2D2). The corresponding rates for natural gas central heating in Dublin postal districts 5, 10, and 12 were 80% of occupied households or higher in both censuses. In contrast 53% of occupied households in Dublin 1 and 49% in Dublin 2 used electricity as their main central heating fuel in 2016. Dublin 8 had the next highest proportion of occupied households using electricity at 39% in 2016 (see Tables 2D3 and 2D4).

X-axis labelCoalPeat
Longford5.821
Offaly1.938.1
Westmeath4.919.7
Wexford16.40.4
Galway County2.523.2
Mayo7.519.2
Roscommon5.426.7
Donegal14.911.6
All counties5.25.4
X-axis labelNatural GasElectricity
Dublin 136.853
Dublin 242.449.4
Dublin 462.629
Dublin 5805.2
Dublin 656.129.7
Dublin 761.627.1
Dublin 85239.4
Dublin 1082.79.2
Dublin 1177.410.2
Dublin 1280.68
All Dublin postcodes69.915.9

Household tenure

Rented households were more likely to use electricity with 21% in 2016 compared with only 3% to 4% of households owned outright or with a mortgage using electricity as their main central heating fuel in 2016 (see Table 2E2).

Farm size

Farms of 50 hectares or more were more inclined to use oil with 69% using oil central heating in 2011 and 66% in 2016. In contrast peat was used by a higher proportion of smaller farms with 28% of farms under 20 hectares using peat in 2016 (see Tables 2F1 and 2F2).

OilCoalPeat
Under 10 hectares48.78.61727.9
10-<20 hectares52.16.928.43
20-<30 hectares54.56.2625.5
30-<50 hectares61.35.0419.3
50 hectares or more663.5613.8

Island and mainland

Higher proportions of dwellings located on islands used oil (57% versus 41% for the mainland), peat (22% compared with 5%), and coal (10% versus 5%) in 2016. The non-availability of natural gas on islands is an important factor in understanding the different distribution on islands (see Table 2G2).

Number of rooms in dwelling

Electricity was the central heating fuel most used by occupied households comprised of one or two rooms with 42% using electricity in 2011 and 41% in 2016. Natural gas was the most frequently used central heating fuel for three to four room dwellings (39% in 2016) whereas oil was the most used fuel for dwellings with seven or more rooms with 57% using oil in 2016 (see Tables 2H1 and 2H2).

Physical mobility and health

Households where the reference persons had mobility difficulty inside the dwelling used higher proportions of coal and peat than other households in both 2011 and 2016. Households with reference persons having mobility difficulty outside the home were also more inclined to use coal and peat (see Tables 3A1, 3A2, 3B1, and 3B2). Households with reference persons in poorer health were also associated with higher proportions using coal as their main central heating fuel (see Tables 3E1 and 3E2).

Age of household reference person

An analysis of central heating fuel by the age group of the household reference person shows contrasting patterns. Households with a reference person aged 18 to 34 had a much higher proportion using electricity (21% in 2016). In contrast around half of households with a reference person aged 65 or over used oil in 2016. Households where the reference persons were aged 75 years and over were more likely to have no central heating or to be using solid fuels (see Tables 3C1 and 3C2).

Ethnicity and nationality

There was substantial variation in the central heating fuel used by different ethnic groups. Households with a white Irish reference person were more inclined to use oil with 43% using oil in 2016, 33% using natural gas, 6% using electricity, 6% using coal, and 6% using peat in 2016. Natural gas was the fuel most used by reference persons with other white ethnicity (39% in 2016). The percentage of households with a reference person with black ethnicity in 2016 using natural gas was 52% which was higher than the 45% of reference person with Asian ethnicity. These profiles are probably associated with the balance between urban and rural living and type of building (see Tables 3D1 and 3D2). An analysis by nationality showed that 22% of households with a foreign national as the reference person used electricity in 2016 compared with 6% of households with an Irish person as the reference person (see Tables 3F1 and 3F2).

OilGasElectricity
White Irish43.29336.247
Other White30.53138.6121.043
Black15.12251.75625.413
Asian16.17744.9831.774

Principal economic status

Households with students as the reference person were far more likely to live in households using electricity as their main central heating fuel (29% in 2011 and 31% in 2016) relative to other socio-economic groups. In contrast households with a reference person who was retired were much more likely to use oil as their main central heating fuel (49% in 2016). In 2016 11% of reference persons who were unemployed or unable to work due to sickness or disability, used coal as their main central heating fuel (see Tables 3G1 and 3G2).

Socio-economic group and social class

An analysis of the socio-economic group of the reference person shows that the highest proportions using coal were unskilled (10% in 2016) and agricultural workers (10% in 2016). In contrast only 2% of households with the reference person an employer or manager used coal and only 1% of households with the reference person a higher professional used coal. In 2016, 20% of farmers and 13% of agricultural workers used peat as their main heating fuel (see Table 3H2).

Social class shows a similar situation with 10% of households where the reference person was unskilled used coal in 2016 (see Table 3J2).

Gender

The main variation by sex of the reference person was that households headed by women were more likely to use natural gas (38% in 2016 for a female reference person compared with 31% for a male reference person) whereas households with a man as reference person had a higher proportion using oil (43% in 2016 compared with 38% for women, see Table 3I2).

Travel to work or place of education

In general household reference persons are leaving earlier for work but persons who left early for work in 2011 are leaving later in 2016 and this may be associated with a change in employment etc. Around one-third of reference persons leaving in the half-hour windows between 06:30 and 09:00 left in the same half-hour window in both 2011 and 2016. These proportions increased to well above one-third in households where the reference person was the same in both Censuses (see Tables 4A1 to 4A3).

In terms of means of transport to work or college, 81% of household reference persons driving to work in 2011 also drove in 2016. This proportion increased to 89% if the reference person was the same in both censuses (see Tables 4B1 and 4B3). For other modes where the reference person was the same in both Censuses, 61% of household reference persons who walked to work in 2011 also walked in 2016 while 60% cycled in both Censuses. For same reference persons who went to work by van, 69% driving a van in 2011 were driving a van in 2016 (see Table 4B3).

In general, most reference persons were in the same time slot for the length of time their journey took (see Tables 4C1 to 4C3). Where the reference person was the same in both Censuses, 73% with a journey time of under 15 minutes were also under 15 minutes in 2016. This proportion declined to 60% for the 15 to 29 minutes slot and to 52% for commutes taking 30 to 44 minutes (see Table 4C3).

Water supply and waste water system

The public mains was the main water supply source for all households. The rate in 2016 was 83% for households where the reference person was aged 18 to 34. The rate declined to 75% for households with reference persons aged 75 or over (see Table 5A2). There was more variation in the waste water system in 2016 with 79% of households where the reference person was aged 18-34 using the public sewerage system but this decreased to 61% for persons aged 75 and over (see Table 5B2).

X-axis label% of same household reference persons using same means of travel
On foot47
Bicycle51
Bus, minibus or coach45
Train, DART or Luas52
Motor cycle or scooter42
Driving a car75
Passenger in a car51
Van60
Show Table: Table 1A1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 and 2016

Show Table: Table 1A2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 and 2016 Different family

Show Table: Table 1A3 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 and 2016 Same family

Show Table: Table 1B1 Number of Cars and Vans in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 and 2016

Show Table: Table 1B2 Number of Cars and Vans in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 and 2016 Different family

Show Table: Table 1B3 Number of Cars and Vans in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 and 2016 Same family

Show Table: Table 2A1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Household Type

Show Table: Table 2A2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Household Type

Show Table: Table 2B1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Period of Construction

Show Table: Table 2B2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Period of Construction

Show Table: Table 2C1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Household Composition

Show Table: Table 2C2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Household Composition

Show Table: Table 2D1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by County

Show Table: Table 2D2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by County

Show Table: Table 2D3 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Dublin Postal District

Show Table: Table 2D4 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Dublin Postal District

Show Table: Table 2E1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Tenure Status

Show Table: Table 2E2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Tenure Status

Show Table: Table 2F1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Farm Size

Show Table: Table 2F2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Farm Size

Show Table: Table 2G1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Mainland or Island Location

Show Table: Table 2G2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Mainland or Island Location

Show Table: Table 2H1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Number of Rooms

Show Table: Table 2H2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Number of Rooms

Show Table: Table 3A1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Reference Person having Difficulty with Moving around the House

Show Table: Table 3A2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Reference Person having Difficulty with Moving around the House

Show Table: Table 3B1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Reference Person having Difficulty with Going Out

Show Table: Table 3B2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Reference Person having Difficulty with Going Out

Show Table: Table 3C1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Age Group of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3C2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Age Group of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3D1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Ethnicity of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3D2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Ethnicity of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3E1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Health of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3E2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Health of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3F1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Nationality of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3F2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Nationality of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3G1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Principal Economic Status of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3G2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Principal Economic Status of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3H1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Socio-economic Group of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3H2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Socio-economic Group of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3I1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Sex of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3I2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Sex of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3J1 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Social Class of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 3J2 Central Heating Fuel in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Social Class of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 4A1 Time of Departure for Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016

Show Table: Table 4A2 Time of Departure for Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016 Different Reference Person

Show Table: Table 4A3 Time of Departure for Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016 Same Reference Person

Show Table: Table 4B1 Means of Travel to Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016

Show Table: Table 4B2 Means of Travel to Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016 Different Reference Person

Show Table: Table 4B3 Means of Travel to Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016 Same Reference Person

Show Table: Table 4C1 Travel Time to Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016

Show Table: Table 4C2 Travel Time to Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016 Different Reference Person

Show Table: Table 4C3 Travel Time to Work or Education of Reference Person in Census 2011 and 2016 Same Reference Person

Show Table: Table 5A1 Water Supply in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Age of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 5A2 Water Supply in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Age of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 5B1 Waste Water System in Occupied Private Households in Census 2011 by Age of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 5B2 Waste Water System in Occupied Private Households in Census 2016 by Age of Reference Person

Show Table: Table 5C Households Distance to Nearest Settlement for Occupied Private Households in Census 2016

Show Table: Table 5D Households Distance to Nearest Coastline for Occupied Private Households in Census 2016

Show Table: Table 5E Water Framework Directive Catchments for Occupied Private Households in Census 2016

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