Press release archive: 2016

Milder winters will change the energy demand in buildings

1.2.2016 9:36

Climate change is already affecting the heating and cooling energy needs of buildings in Finland. According to a recently published study, energy consumption will decrease by 20–35% by the end of the century. However, milder winters will cause risks in the supply of energy.

Image: Pia Anttila

Image: Pia Anttila

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), the Aalto University School of Engineering and Tallinn University of Technology have investigated the amount of energy required to heat the spaces and the ventilation supply air in a typical detached house in southern Finland as well as the direct financial consequences to the residents. The study simulated energy consumption hour by hour and day by day.

The source information used in the study was the weather data produced by the FMI, which describes the typical weather conditions including periodic variation in the estimated climates of 2030, 2050 and 2100.

"This future weather data was formed by combining information from weather observations and results from climate model runs," explains Kirsti Jylhä, Senior Research Scientist at the FMI.

The need for heating energy will decline as the need for cooling increases

According to the results of the study, the consumption of heating energy will decline by about 20–40% by 2100, due to climate change. At the same time, the need for cooling energy is expected to increase by 40–80%. However, energy consumption as a whole will decline by 20–35% by the end of the century according to the results.

Residents of detached houses will notice this in their finances. According to the calculations by researchers of FMI, the decline in the demand for heating energy will lead to a decline of 11–16% in heating costs.  The need for cooling will cause an increase of about 2–3% in the electricity bill, if electricity is used for cooling.

Finland's winters have already become milder

The annual mean temperature in Finland has risen by 1.4 degrees between 1900 and 2014. The pace of warming is almost twice the global average.

It is especially winters that have become milder in Finland. For example, the average temperature in December has risen by almost five degrees between the 1850s and today, which is apparent in the Finnish weather and nature.

"The amount of energy needed in heating detached houses has already decreased by six per cent in a decade due to climate change. However, climate change requires active, well-planned adaptation measures in Finland, too; developing energy-efficient and passive cooling techniques, for instance" Kirsti Jylhä explains.

Climate warming will also bring risks: the more common extreme weather phenomena will disturb energy supply as damage from storms will increase and the protective effects of permafrost will diminish.

Further information

Senior Research Scientist Kirsti Jylhä, FMI, firstname.lastname@fmi.fi, tel. +358 29 539 4125