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Background Notes

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Purpose of survey

The data were collected as part of the CSO General Household Survey (GHS). The GHS is a national survey that takes place three or four times each year and is part of an EU-wide programme. Each survey usually has a specific theme: for example in Quarter 3, 2021 the modules were "Personal and Work-Life Balance" and "Environment". The purpose of the Environment module was to collect information on household environmental behaviours.

Reference Period

The survey was planned for Quarter 3, 2021. A slight delay arose; therefore data were collected during the three months from August to October 2021.

Link to Questionnaire

A copy of the questionnaire is available at: Household Environmental Behaviours Survey Forms


The questionnaire consisted of a short series of questions on household socio-demographic characteristics and on four topics relating to the environment: opinions on environmental issues; visits to nature areas; waste management and recycling; and energy use. The CSO formed a project group consisting of representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the CSO Environment and Climate Division and the CSO Ecosystem Accounts Division to develop the questionnaire so that it would meet statistical and policy needs.

In Quarter 2 of 2014 the CSO collected data on household environment behaviours as part of the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS). The QNHS Environment module questionnaire contained questions on household waste and recycling and on energy use by households. A number of questions from the 2014 survey were repeated in this questionnaire. In addition, new questions on waste and recycling and on energy use were incorporated into the questionnaire, while two new sections, Household Environmental Concerns and Household Visits to Nature Areas, were also added.

Data Collection

The GHS Environment module was an online survey of households. Households that were selected in the sample received a letter in the post providing a link to the survey and a QR code along with an access code.

Sample Design

The sample was selected from the Household Sampling Frame, also known as the Ordinarily Resident Frame (ORF). The ORF dataset is produced by combining Local Property Tax (LPT) owner-occupied property data with Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) tenant-occupied property data.

The sample was selected using a Stratified Simple Random Sample, stratified by county and type of occupancy. Type of occupancy consisted of three groups: LPT owner-occupied properties, LPT local authority rental properties, and RTB private rental properties. A sample of 25,000 was selected.

In advance of finalising the sample, a data matching exercise was undertaken to enhance the Eircode coverage in the ORF. This was done in order to aid delivery of letters to correct households, thus potentially increasing response rates and enabling an improved match to Census of Population data to acquire household composition variables.

The data matching exercise was carried out on 30,000 households. Addresses were matched to the GeoDirectory, Census of Population and the Local Property Tax datasets. Eircode coverage was enhanced to 23,435 cases. The remaining 1,565 sample was randomly selected from 6,565 unmatched Eircode records, bringing the total sample to 25,000.

Estimated number of households

In order to account for unoccupied properties, households were weighted by county and type of tenure to the population totals recorded in the 2016 Census of Population. The total number of households was 1.7 million households. The population of households was defined as occupied private households on Census night 2016.


The module results are based on responses from 4,641 households. These households were weighted by county and type of occupancy (owner-occupied and rented) to represent all occupied households in the State. The data were matched to the Census of Population dataset in order to add certain Census variables such as whether the household is in an urban or a rural area.

Sampling and non-Sampling Error


A stratified random sample was selected from the Ordinarily Resident Frame. The original sample size was 30,000 in order to enhance Eircode coverage and hence matching to Census of Population data. All records with Eircode coverage were then selected to be part of the final sample of 25,000. As a result the final sample was not perfectly random; however the benefits in terms of improving receipt of letters by the correct households and hence response rates were considered to justify the approach.


The ORF is updated annually with LPT data and quarterly with RTB data. The most recent update at the time of the Environment module was Quarter 4, 2020. The LPT data source identifies properties which are principal private residences of tax-resident persons. It is also possible to identify Local Authority (L.A.)-owned rental properties from the LPT. All privately-owned and Approved Housing Board-owned and rental properties are required to be registered with the RTB. Combining the LPT (taking the owner-occupied properties of tax-resident persons, plus the L.A. rental properties) and the RTB (for private rental properties and AHB rental properties) is considered to make a satisfactory household survey sampling frame.


The questionnaire repeated a number of questions which had been included in the QHNS Environment module of Quarter 2 of 2014. The majority of the remaining questions were derived from Eurobarometer questionnaires and from the People and Nature Survey (PANS) questionnaire used in England to gather data on people’s enjoyment, access, understanding of and attitudes to the natural environment.

All questions were assessed for suitability in an Irish context and for an online survey which was to be completed on a device such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Each section of the questionnaire was discussed and reviewed by the relevant members of the project group.


The usable response rate for the survey was 18.6%. Three reminders were issued to households in order to increase the response rate. The time taken to fill the questionnaire was kept to approximately ten minutes in order to reduce non-response.

Each table in this release contains figures showing the number of respondent households. The number of households in the population, based on the 2016 Census, was 1,666,266.

While most respondents provided responses to all questions in the questionnaire, some respondents did not answer all questions. The release tables include proportions of non-respondents to specific questions where relevant.

Individual Reference Person

From respondent households who were requested to participate in the module, one person volunteered to respond on behalf of the entire household. Due to the voluntary nature of the household respondent, individual characteristics may not be representative of the population as a whole when compared to a sample survey with a random selection of a respondent.

Rounding and Zeros in the Detailed Tables

The row percentages in the tables in this report may not add to 100% due to rounding. Cells containing zero percent include cases where the percentage of respondents in that category was less than 0.5% as well as cases where there was no respondent in that category.

Classification Variables

The Environment module questionnaire included a section on sociodemographic characteristics of the household and the individual respondent. In addition information on type of occupancy was available from the ORF. Finally, a Census variable classifying households by whether they are located in rural or urban areas was added to the dataset. This variable was missing for a significant proportion of households due to the incomplete match between the ORF and the Census. The classification variables are outlined below.

Type of Tenure

This classification was available from the ORF. Households were classified as Owner-occupied or Rented.

Number of Occupants

Respondents were asked: Including you, how many people live in this household?

Number of children

Respondents were asked: How many children under 18 live in this household?

Dwelling Type

Respondents were asked: What type of accommodation does your household live in? The type of dwelling the respondents lived in were categorised as follows:

  • Detached house
  • Semi-detached house
  • Terraced house
  • Flat or apartment in a purpose-built block
  • Other

Construction Date

Respondents were asked: When was your house, flat or apartment built? The responses were classified to the following categories:

  • Before 1961
  • 1961-1980
  • 1981-2000
  • 2001 or later
  • Unknown construction period

NUTS 3 Regions

The regional classification used in this release is based on the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units) classification used by Eurostat. The composition of the regions is set out below.

  • Border (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo)
  • Dublin (Dublin)
  • Mid-East (Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Louth)
  • Mid-West (Clare, Limerick, Tipperary)
  • Midland (Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath)
  • South-East (Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford)
  • South-West (Cork, Kerry)
  • West (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon)

Urban/rural location

Areas are classified as Urban or Rural based on Census of Population 2016. Urban refers to settlements with a total population of 1,500 or more. Rural refers to the population outside urban areas and includes towns with a population of less than 1,500 persons.


Respondents were asked: What is your age? Responses were categorised as:

  • 18-34 years
  • 35-44 years
  • 45-54 years
  • 55-64 years
  • 65 years or over


Respondents were asked: What is your sex? Responses were categorised as Female or Male.

Household Working Status

Respondents were asked: Which of the following categories best describes your current situation? Responses were categorised as:

  • Working for payment or profit
  • Retired from employment
  • Looking after home or family
  • Other

Further queries

Please contact with any queries or requests for further analysis.

Participating Households

The Central Statistics Office wishes to thank the respondent households for their participation in the survey.

Go to: Contact Details