Why do the inhabitants of the South of France consume more electricity than those of the North?

The photos attached to the French regions would suggest that the following hypothesis is correct: the sun sufficiently warms the territories of the South of metropolitan France and, consequently, its inhabitants spend less electricity, in particular because they have less to heat their accommodation. Precisely the opposite is happening. The media Upenergie recently published a ranking for the year 2021 which links electricity consumption and territory, thanks to data from the ORE agency.

The last four regions on the list? Occitania, New Aquitaine, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Corsica. The inhabitants of the island consume an average of 3.3 MWh compared to 1.92 MWh in Île-de-France and 2.21 MWh in Hauts-de-France.

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Fréjus, Antibes and Cannes: the cities where the inhabitants consume the most

The ranking of residents’ electricity consumption in cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants continues the trend. In Fréjus (3.26 MWh), Antibes (3.02 MWh) and Cannes (2.85 MWh) the top three; in Créteil (1.1 MWh), Bobigny (1.16 MWh) and Vénissieux (1.17 MWh) the back of the pack.

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To explain this counter-intuitive observation, Upenergie, Enedis and the ORE Agency put forward a major hypothesis. The energy mix (ie the different energy sources) needed for heating is less dependent on electricity in the more northern territories. For example, in Hauts-de-France, electricity occupies only a third of the energy mix linked to heating. Natural gas, fuel oil, LPG, wood and coal do the rest. In Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur or Corsica, the share of electricity is equal to two thirds.

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Also, given the milder temperatures in these regions, less effort has been made on the insulation of housing, especially the oldest ones. However, a house or apartment that is less well insulated loses heat and, to compensate, it must therefore be heated more.

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Household size also a factor

On the other hand, the use of air conditioning, which is more pronounced in the South, could at first sight be a major source of electricity expenditure. But this remains marginal in the differences observed between the territories, according to the designers of the classification.

Finally, it should be noted that electricity consumption depends more on the size of the dwelling than on the number of people living there. An additional man or woman in a dwelling generates only 5 to 10% additional consumption. On the other hand, one piece increases consumption by 20%.

This could explain why Créteil, Bobigny and Vénissieux, whose density is very high, are the towns whose residents consume the least. The size of the household (the number of people who live in a dwelling on average) is indeed greater than the French average, located at 2.19. In these towns in the suburbs of Paris and Lyon, it ranges from 2.4 in Créteil to 2.8 in Bobigny.

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