This publication presents the results of an Energy Use and Conservation survey conducted in March 2008. The survey collected data on household energy sources and conservation measures, dwelling size and construction type, and the number of household appliances and white goods. All of these factors affect energy use, which in turn affects the production of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, as the size of dwellings increases there is generally a corresponding increase in the amount of energy required for heating and cooling, which in turn can result in more greenhouse gas emissions, depending on the energy source.
It is generally considered that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to climate change, including the likelihood of increased rainfall variability and increased temperatures (SoE 2006). Australia's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are the highest of any OECD country (Garnaut 2008).
The residential sector accounted for about 8% of Australia's total energy use in 2006-07 (ABARE 2008). Space heating/cooling and water heating together accounted for nearly two-thirds (63%) of household energy use (DEWHA 2008a).
Energy consumption by households is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly because of Australia's heavy reliance on fossil fuels (e.g. coal, oil and gas) for electricity generation. Australia's direct greenhouse gas emissions for the residential sector (including transport) were about 9% of total emissions, an increase of 25% since 1990 (DCC 2008).
One theme to emerge from this survey was that measures used to conserve energy in households, such as insulation, were adopted mostly for comfort and lifestyle reasons, rather than from a desire to save energy. An example of this is the increase in the number of households with coolers (airconditioners and evaporative coolers) over the years since 1994.
In contrast, water and energy efficiency were the main factors considered by Australian households when replacing or buying white goods.