1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2009–10  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2010   
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Contents >> Environment >> Household energy use and conservation


The amount and type of energy used in the home has considerable implications for the environment, including greenhouse gas generation, air pollution and natural resource depletion. The residential sector accounted for about 7% of Australia's total energy use in 2007-08 (ABARE, 2009).

Practically all dwellings (99.9%) in Australia use electricity. Electricity was the main source of energy in 2008 for ovens (75%), cooktops (56%), hot water (46%), and space heating (35%). Households relied most heavily on electricity for space heating in Tasmania (65%), South Australia (47%) and New South Wales (43%).

Gas (mains gas and LPG/bottled gas) was the second most common source of energy used by two-thirds (61%) of Australian households in 2008. About one in three Australian households used gas (mains gas and LPG/bottled gas) as their main source of energy for space heating (31%), while 37% used gas for heating water (graph 2.14).

2.14 Electricity and Gas, Use in dwellings
Graph: 2.14 Electricity and Gas, Use in dwellings

More than three-quarters of dwellings (77%) in Australia had a heater in 2008 (graph 2.15). Nearly one-third (32%) of dwellings with heaters had two or more heaters in use in their homes - a slight increase from 30% in 2002.

2.15 Heaters in dwellings
Graph: 2.15 Heaters in dwellings

Gas (not ducted) was the most common type of primary heating of Australian dwellings in 2008 (26% of dwellings), followed by reverse cycle air conditioners (not ducted) (18%), and then electric (not ducted) (16%) and ducted gas heaters (16%).

More than one-third of households (39%) nominated 'Comfort/convenience' as the main reason for their choice of heater. Less than 2% of Australian households chose their type of heating based on environmental considerations. All cooling uses electricity which has implications for greenhouse gas emissions and the demand on the electricity grid on peak summer days (DEWHA, 2008b).

Two-thirds (66%) of dwellings in Australia used some form of cooling in 2008, more than doubling since 1994 (32%). Since 1994, reverse cycle/heat pump air conditioning has continued to be the most popular system of cooling (61% in 2008). There was a substantial increase in the proportion of dwellings with split system coolers as their main cooling system, from 18% in 2002 to 40% in 2008.

Insulation in ceilings, walls and floors will contribute to the comfort of a dwelling all year round, as well as a reduction in energy use for heating and cooling. The use of insulation in homes has increased to 61% in 2008 up from 52% in 1994 (graph 2.16).

2.16 Dwellings with insulation
Graph: 2.16 Dwellings with insulation

Most Australian households insulated their homes to achieve comfort (83%) while savings on energy bills and reductions in energy use were relatively minor considerations for the installation of insulation (11% and 4% respectively) (graph 2.17). For those households that reported that they had no insulation, 'not home owner/not responsible' was the main reason (34%). This was followed by 'cost' (17%) and 'have not considered' (12%).

2.17 Main reasons for installing insulation
Graph: 2.17 Main reasons for installing insulation

While household appliances such as refrigerators, separate freezers, dishwashers etc. only accounted for about 30% of total energy consumption, they accounted for more than half (53%) of residential greenhouse gas emissions (DEWHA, 2007).

Water efficiency rating, energy star rating and cost (price) were the three main factors considered by households across Australia when replacing or buying major white goods (graph 2.18). Energy star rating ranked first when replacing/buying a refrigerator (50%), separate freezer (46%) and clothes dryer (45%). Water efficiency rating was ranked first when replacing/buying a washing machine (49%). However, energy star rating was considered more important than water efficiency rating when replacing/buying a dishwasher (48%). Cost was considered most important when replacing/buying a heater (40%).

2.18 factors considered when replacing/buying appliances
Graph: 2.18 factors considered when replacing/buying appliances

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