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4670.0 - Household Energy Consumption Survey, Australia: Summary of Results, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/09/2013  First Issue
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Energy expenditure and consumption
Dwelling characteristics
Energy-related behaviour and perceptions

Energy expenditure and consumption

In 2012, owner households with a mortgage had the highest energy costs ($123 per week) compared to other tenure types, while households who rented from a state/ territory housing authority had the lowest energy costs ($56 per week).

Graph Image for Household energy expenditure by tenure and landlord type ($ per week)

Household tenure type strongly relates to the life cycle stage of a household, generally following a pattern of renting in early adulthood, moving to home purchase and mortgages as partnerships are formed and children are born, and owning a home outright in older age. (Endnote 1) It is likely that this pattern directly influences the energy costs of a household. For instance, both owners without a mortgage and renters have fewer persons and bedrooms in their dwelling (2.1 persons and 3.2 bedrooms for owners without a mortgage, and 2.5 persons and 2.7 bedrooms for renters), compared to owners with a mortgage (3.1 persons and 3.4 bedrooms).

While households renting from a state and territory housing authority had the lowest energy costs, these represented 8.3% of their gross household income, which was the highest for all tenure and landlord types. Owners with a mortgage and private renters by comparison, had the lowest costs when represented as a proportion of their gross household income (4.9% and 5.2% respectively).

Owner households with a mortgage also consumed more units of electricity and mains gas than owners without a mortgage or renter households. (Endnote 2) Each week on average, owners with a mortgage consumed 142.4 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity compared to averages of 112.2 kWh for owners without a mortgage and 113.6 kWh for renter households. Mains gas was also higher, with owners with a mortgage consuming 727.2 megajoules (MJ) on average per week compared to 661.9 MJ for owners without a mortgage and 547.7 MJ for renter households.
Dwelling characteristics

Owner and renter households face different options when it comes to managing their household energy costs. Owner households have more discretion to make a wider range of energy efficient improvements to their dwelling (e.g. insulation, installing solar systems) allowing them to reduce their overall energy costs. Owner households had significantly higher rates of insulation, window treatments and solar electricity or hot water systems than renter households (noting that the proportion of renters who did not know if their dwelling was insulated was almost twice the proportion (19%) of owners).

The type of dwelling structure had a strong bearing on household energy costs, with separate houses generally having higher expenditure than other dwellings such as flats, units, apartments or townhouses. Owner households with and without a mortgage were much more likely to live in separate houses (around 88% of households in each) than renter households (56%). More private renters lived in separate houses (58%) than those who rented from a state and territory housing authority (47%).

Graph Image for Household dwelling characteristics by tenure and landlord type

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes households who did not know whether they had insulation.

Source(s): Household Energy Consumption Survey, Australia: Summary of Results

Significantly more renter households (55%) than owner households both with (41%) and without a mortgage (47%) had electric hot water systems. Off peak electric systems were more commonly used by owners without a mortgage (31%) than owners with a mortgage (25%) and renters (24%). Continuous electric hot water systems were almost twice as common among renter households (29%) than owner households (15%).

Energy-related behaviour and perceptions

Owner households were more likely to perform actions which, as a function of their tenure, are relatively easier to perform than for renters. For instance, activities such as using a washing line to dry clothes most washes, using energy efficient light bulbs in the majority of lights, using a low flow shower head and using draft-proof seals on doors and windows were all activities performed by a higher proportion of owner households than renter households.

Graph Image for Selected household behaviours by tenure type

Annotation(s): (a) Total renters (b) Households may appear in more than one category

Source(s): Household Energy Consumption Survey, Australia: Summary of Results

More renter households (28%) perceived water heating as the main activity which contributed the most to their household energy costs in the last twelve months, compared to owner households (24% without a mortgage and 25% with a mortgage). Owner households were more likely to perceive heating their home as the main activity contributing most to their energy costs (29% with a mortgage and 28% without a mortgage) than renter households (25%).

Graph Image for Selected activities perceived to contribute most to household energy costs in the last 12 months

Annotation(s): (a) Includes other landlord type

Source(s): Household Energy Consumption Survey, Australia: Summary of Results


1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2011-12, (cat. no. 4130.0,) <>
2. Information on units of electricity and gas were only supplied by households who could locate this information on a bill or statement. The rate of households who supplied consumption information varied, but was generally higher among owner households than renters.

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