4602.0 - Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, Mar 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2005   
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This publication is the eleventh of its type and presents information on environmental behaviour and practices of Australian households and individuals collected in March 2005. Respondents were aged 18 years or older.

This edition focuses on "Energy use and conservation" and covers a range of issues including energy sources, energy use, and energy saving measures used in households.

Other areas covered include: characteristics of dwellings that affect energy use, heaters and coolers, types of household appliances used in households and support to the green power scheme.


The data in this publication are derived from a supplement to the Monthly Population Survey. Please refer to the Explanatory Notes at the back of this publication for further details about the survey.


The topic included in this survey rotate over a period of three years. The topics contained in this publication are comparable with data collected in 1994, 1999 and 2002. Where applicable those data have been included in this publication to enable comparisons.

Prior to 1997, environment topics were surveyed using 'personal interview' methodology. From 1997 onwards, the 'any responsible adult' methodology has been applied. When comparing post-1997 and pre-1997 data, readers should be aware that some differences in the data may be explained by the change in methodology rather than the real changes over time.


Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals. Published percentages are calculated prior to rounding of the figures and therefore some discrepancy may occur between these percentages and those that could be calculated from the rounded figures.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Michael Vardon on Canberra (02) 6252 7348.


Household energy consumption accounts for nearly 12% of the final energy consumed in Australia. In 1974-75, residential energy consumption was recorded at 246 peta joules; in 2003-04, such consumption increased to 420 peta joules (ABARE 2005).

Home energy use (i.e. cooking, space and water heating) is the largest source of greenhouse emissions in Australians households. According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, the average household's energy use is responsible for about eight tonnes of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, per year. The greater the amount of energy consumed by households, the more greenhouse gases are emitted.

This publication presents the results of a household survey conducted in March 2005. The survey collected information on energy sources, aspects of dwelling materials and fixtures that impact on energy use, and energy using household appliances. These are some of the main determinants of energy use, which in turn has implications for greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and resource depletion.


A major theme that emerged in this survey was energy consumption in households has been driven mostly by lifestyle reasons and resource availability, rather than a desire to reduce energy use.

The majority of Australians continue to live in separate houses, most of them with three or more bedrooms. There was also an increased uptake of several appliances in households, mainly air conditioners, dishwashers, DVD players, games console etc. Conservation measures such as insulation, installation of heaters and window treatments were applied, but mainly to achieve comfort and convenience rather than the benefits from energy reduction and cost savings.

Main findings of the survey are presented below.

  • There has been a modest increase in the use of insulation, from 52% of dwellings in 1994 to 60% in 2005. The main reason given for having insulation was to improve comfort (given by 84% of people installing insulation), while the main obstacle was not being responsible for insulation (34% of people without insulation). Saving energy was low on the list of reasons for installing insulation.
  • More than half (57%) of Australian dwellings had at least one room illuminated by standard fluorescent lights while one-third (33%) of dwellings used other energy saving lights. Nationally, there was a significant increase in the use of other energy saving lights from 23% in 2002 to 33% in 2005, particularly in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.
  • Close to half of Australian dwellings (48%) applied at least one measure to regulate heat through windows. Outside awnings and/or shutters were the principal form of window protection and were used by over 30% of households.
  • Electricity was still the main source of energy for Australians, being used by almost every household (99%) in 2005. Electricity was the main energy source for cooking (54%) and hot water systems (51%), but gas remains the main source of energy for space heating (34%).
  • Solar energy was utilised only by 5% of households, primarily for heating water (4%). In the Northern Territory and South Australia, however, 42% and 16% of households used solar energy to heat water.
  • The use of off-peak electricity in hot water systems increased significantly from 30% in 2002 to 34% in 2005. Queensland recorded the highest proportion of households using off-peak electricity for hot water systems (50%) and had the most significant increase (13%).
  • There has been a significant increase in the number of households with air conditioners from 33% of dwellings in 1994 to 60% in 2005. Reverse cycle/heat pump has been the most popular system of cooling since 1994.
  • Almost all dwellings in Australia have at least a refrigerator, washing machine, television and vacuum cleaner. More than three-quarters (78%) have heaters, three-fifths (60%) have coolers and more than half (55%) have clothes dryers. Computers were present in 68% of Australian dwellings, increasing significantly from 45% in 1999.
  • Energy rating efficiency and cost were the two main factors considered by households when buying or replacing a white good. Environmental considerations were not a main factor in choosing appliances (11%), yet were becoming more of a factor when choosing washing machines (19%).
  • More Australian households used cold water (69%) than warm water (19%) in washing machines (the remainder used hot water or varied the temperature).
  • More than a quarter (29%) of households were aware of green power schemes in 2005, an increase from 19% in 1999 and from 24% in 2002. However, only 23% of these households were willing to support the scheme, a slight decrease from 26% in 2002. Most of these respondents (53%) were willing to pay less than $100 extra per year for green power.