4618.4 - Domestic Use of Water and Energy, South Australia, Oct 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/04/2005   
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This publication contains results from the Domestic Use of Water and Energy Survey conducted in South Australia (SA) in October 2004. It presents information on South Australians' behaviour in relation to water and energy use. The topics covered include plumbing of rainwater tanks into dwellings; presence of reduced flow shower heads; types of hot water systems, washing machines, heaters and air conditioners used; garden and lawn watering methods; water conservation actions in and around dwellings; and connections to gas.


The survey was conducted as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Monthly Population Survey (MPS). Please refer to the Explanatory Notes at the back of this publication for further details about this survey.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Stuart Peevor on Adelaide (08) 8237 7572.



The Domestic Use of Water and Energy Survey 2004, was conducted to inform South Australian State Government planning and decision making in relation to water and energy management. The State Government has introduced permanent water conservation measures in response to critical water shortages and in South Australia a tight demand-supply relationship exists for energy. Therefore, information on domestic use of water and energy use is of increasing importance for State Government management and sustainability planning.

The ABS appreciates the advice and funds, contributed by the following key stakeholders:

  • Primary Industries and Resources SA
  • SA Department of Environment and Heritage
  • SA Department for Water, Land, Biodiversity and Conservation
  • SA Water
  • SA Department of Treasury and Finance
  • Essential Services Commission of South Australia
  • SA Department of Families and Communities
  • Environment Protection Authority.

The main areas focused on in the survey were:
  • household practices with regard to water and energy use and water conservation actions
  • household use of water conserving devices and energy efficient appliances
  • the relationship of these practices to household income.

This publication presents data on South Australians' domestic use and conservation of water and energy by tenure type and by equivalised gross household income quintiles (gross household income adjusted according to the number of persons in the household). Further data, including area of usual residence (Adelaide Statistical Division and the rest of the state) and household size, are available from the ABS. See the Appendix for a comprehensive list of data items.


Water use and conservation

In October 2004, 28% of South Australian households had a rainwater tank plumbed into their dwelling and 37% reported they had a reduced flow shower head. Households that owned their dwellings were more likely to have these water-saving features than households that rented their dwellings.

Only 15% of households had front loading automatic washing machines, while those with higher incomes were more likely to have them than those with lower incomes.

In the 12 months to October 2004, 46% of households hand watered a garden and/or lawn, 35% used a fixed sprinkler system, 27% used a movable sprinkler and 10% reported using a timer. Hand watering was the only method used by 24% of households to water a garden and/or lawn. Fixed sprinkler systems were more likely to be used by dwelling owners or by households that had higher incomes.

Households' water conservation actions taken during the year included adjusting water levels when washing clothes or dishes (61% of households), using mulch (59%), takingless time when showering (54%), watering gardens and lawns using a soaking method (41%), recycling water (36%), planting drought tolerant plants or lawn (31%), notwatering lawns (17%) and removing or reducing the size of lawns (16%).

Most of the water conservation actions undertaken by households in the 12 months to October 2004, had also been undertaken previously. Adjusting the water level when washing clothes or dishes was the most common action taken for the first time in the last 12 months (13% of households).

Energy use and conservation

In October 2004, mains and/or bottled gas was connected to 68% of South Australian households. Gas was more likely to be connected to households with higher incomes than those with lower incomes.

Gas was the main energy source for hot water systems in 50% of South Australian households. Electricity was the main source for 45% of households - peak electricity for 14% of households and off-peak electricity for 31% of households. Only 3% of households had solar hot water systems. Similar proportions of dwelling owners and renters used electric hot water systems; however, 34% of owners used off-peak electricity compared with 23% of renters.

The types of heating used most often by households were gas heaters (34% of households), reverse cycle air conditioners (26% of households) and electric heaters (18% of households). Renters were more likely to use electric heaters than owners. In addition, households with lower incomes were more likely to use electric heaters than those with higher incomes.

Almost 15% of households renting from a government housing authority and 8% of households in the lowest income quintile did not use a heater.

Over 80% of South Australian households had air conditioners which they used for heating or cooling. Dwelling owners and households with higher incomes were more likely to use an air conditioner.

Ducted air conditioning was the air conditioning used most often in 34% of South Australian households and air conditioning set in walls or windows was used most often in 31% of households. Ducted air conditioning was more common in owned dwellings whereas air conditioning set in walls or windows was more common in rented dwellings. Ducted air conditioning was also more common in households with higher incomes whereas air conditioning set in walls or windows was more common with lower income households.