|Page tools: Print Page|
ENERGY USE AND CONSERVATION
Household energy supply and use
Data in this article are sourced from the ABS publication Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices, March 2005 (cat. no. 4602.0) which presents information on the environmental behaviour and practices of Australian households. Data in this publication were derived from a supplement of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Monthly Population Survey conducted in March 2005.
DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS AND ENERGY CONSERVATION
This section examines specific characteristics of Queensland dwellings that reduce energy consumption. The design and characteristics of individual dwellings have a considerable impact on energy use. For example, the appropriate choice of building materials and insulation can optimise the comfort level of a dwelling, reducing the need for energy to heat or cool the living environment and, in turn, limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Dwellings constructed of heavyweight materials such as brick have a high thermal mass which allows them to absorb, store and slowly release heat when the temperature decreases. As such, brick dwellings require less energy to generate and maintain suitable heating and cooling levels, and can reduce energy requirements by up to 25% when compared with a home built of lightweight construction materials with a low thermal mass such as timber (footnote 1).
In March 2005, bricks (double brick or veneer) and timber were the most commonly used outside wall materials for construction or renovation of dwellings in Queensland. Around 55% of Queensland dwellings had their outside walls constructed of bricks, considerably lower than the proportion for Australia (71%), while 22% of Queensland dwellings were constructed of timber, compared with 13% for Australia (Table 1).
Brick and timber were used more often in the Brisbane SD (61% and 26%, respectively) than in the Balance of Queensland (50% and 19%, respectively). The majority of the remaining portion in the Balance of Queensland were houses constructed with concrete/besser block (14%).
TABLE 1 DWELLING MATERIALS, Queensland - 2005
Between 1999 and 2005, there were increases in the proportion of Queensland dwellings made of brick (from 48% to 55%) and those made of concrete/besser block (from 8% to 9%) (Graph 2). Conversely, reductions occurred in the proportions of houses made of timber and fibre cement over the same period, with timber down from 28% to 22% and fibre cement down from 10% to 7%.
GRAPH 2 DWELLING MATERIALS, Queensland - 1999, 2002 and 2005
Dwelling InsulationProperly installed insulation - that is, insulation in ceiling, walls and floors - will contribute to the comfort of a home all year round, and reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2005, 43% of Queensland dwellings were insulated, compared with 61% nationally. However, the proportion of dwellings insulated in Queensland has increased from 29% in 1994 to 43% in 2005 (Graph 3).
GRAPH 3 INSULATION IN DWELLINGS, Queensland - 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005
Most of the winter heat loss and summer heat gain occurs through the roof or ceiling (footnote 2). Of the dwellings with insulation in Queensland in 2005, 94% had roof or ceiling insulation and 25% had walls insulated (Graph 4). As can be seen from the graph, wall insulation is used more where the population are located in states or territories subject to extremes of climate.
GRAPH 4 DWELLINGS WITH INSULATION, Where insulation installed, states and territories, 2004-05
In 2005, most households (90%) installed insulation to achieve comfort, while savings on costs and energy consumption were lesser concerns (5% and 3%, respectively) (Table 5). Among households with no insulation, not being a home owner or responsible to insulate the home was cited as the main reason for not having insulation (30%), followed by cost (19%) and not getting around to do it (13%).
TABLE 5 REASONS FOR INSTALLING OR NOT INSTALLING INSULATION IN DWELLING, Queensland - 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005
Lighting and Window Treatment of Dwellings
The type of lights chosen by a household determines the amount of electricity used and subsequent lighting costs. One means of conserving energy is through the use of fluorescent lights and energy saving lights. An energy saving light is an innovative light based on the standard fluorescent lamp and is designed to fit into a conventional light socket. Although more expensive to purchase, fluorescent lights and other energy saving lights are considered the most energy efficient form of lighting, as they use less energy, are cheaper to operate and last longer (between 8,000 and 16,000 hours) than conventional lights (footnote 3).
In 2005, 75% of Queensland dwellings used fluorescent lights, the same proportion as in 2002, while 29% used other types of energy saving lights, up from 23% in 2002 (Graph 6).
GRAPH 6 DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS, Use of fluorescent and other energy saving lights(a), Queensland - 1999, 2002 and 2005
Appropriate window selection and protection can reduce the amount of heat loss or gain through windows during winter or summer by up to 70%, and may save a household around $200 each year in reduced energy costs (footnote 4). The amount of heat lost or gained through windows is relative to their location, size and to the nature and extent of applied window treatments.
A number of Queensland dwellings were fitted with energy saving window treatments in 2005 (Table 7). Outside awnings or shutters were the most common treatment, installed in 28% of dwellings, followed by tinted glass or solar guarding in 21% of dwellings. Nationally, 30% of dwellings had outside awnings or shutters, 14% had boxed pelmets and 10% had tinted glass or solar guarding.
TABLE 7 DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS, lighting and window treatments/applications, states and territories - 2005
HOUSEHOLD ENERGY SUPPLY AND USE
Main Sources of Energy for Household Use
The amount and type of energy used in the home has considerable implications for the environment. For example, energy consumption depletes natural resources, generates greenhouse emissions and pollutes the air. Increasing awareness of these problems has led to the introduction and use of alternative energy sources (e.g. solar energy), as well as the availability of measures that reduce peak energy demand, such as off-peak electricity, which generates hot water at times where energy is in low demand (e.g. at night). This section explores the current energy sources for Queensland households and uses of that energy.
In 2005, electricity was the most common source of energy for Queensland households, with 99% of households using this energy source (Graph 8). LPG/bottled gas was the second most common (used in 17% of households) followed by mains gas (used in 12%).
While electricity was the most common source of energy for households in the Brisbane SD and Balance of Queensland (99.5% in both), differences were found for other energy sources used in these regions. In the Brisbane SD, 20% used mains gas as an energy source, 13% used LPG/bottled gas and 7% used wood. For the Balance of Queensland, these proportions were 6%, 21% and 12%, respectively.
GRAPH 8 HOUSEHOLD ENERGY SOURCES, Queensland - 2005
In 2005, electricity was the primary energy source used for cooking in Queensland (77% of households), followed by LPG/bottled gas (12%) and mains gas (9%) (Table 9). For Australia, a lower proportion of households used electricity for cooking (54%), while a higher proportion (32%) used mains gas.
In Brisbane SD, mains gas was the second most common energy source used for cooking (15% of households), while the second most common energy source in the Balance of Queensland was LPG/bottled gas (14%).
For space heating, the main energy source was electricity, with 32% of Queensland households using this energy source. Space heating was not as common in Queensland as in the whole of Australia, with only 44% of Queensland households using space heating in 2005, compared with 78% Australia-wide.
The main energy source used for heating water was electricity, with 50% of Queensland households using off-peak electricity and 18% using peak electricity for hot water. Mains gas was the second most common energy source (9%), followed by solar energy (6%). Nationally, 36% of households used mains gas to heat water, while 34% used off-peak electricity and 17% used peak electricity.
TABLE 9 HOUSEHOLD ENERGY SOURCES FOR COOKING, SPACE HEATING AND HEATING WATER, Queensland - 2005
Heating and Cooling Systems
Heaters and coolers are major contributors to household energy use and costs. They account for 39% of total household energy use in Australia and 14% of the residential sector greenhouse emissions (footnote 5).
Approximately 44% of households in Queensland had a heating system in 2005, compared with 78% nationally (Graph 10). These proportions have remained relatively stable between 1994 and 2005.
GRAPH 10 SPACE HEATING, Queensland and Australia - 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005
The most popular heating system in Queensland in 2005 was reverse cycle heaters (systems that both heat and cool the air), accounting for 47% of heating systems in Queensland, followed by electric heaters (28%) and wood heaters (18%) (Table 11). Nationally, gas heaters were the most common, with 43% of Australian households heated from using this method, followed by electricity (22%).
Between 1999 and 2005, the proportion of Queensland households using reverse cycle heating rose substantially (up to 47% from 12% in 1999) while the proportions using electric heaters and wood heaters declined from 49% and 24% to 28% and 18%, respectively.
In 2005, 78% of Queensland households used heaters for less than 3 months of the year (changing little from 2002) while 21% used heaters for 3 months or more (up from 17% in 2002).
TABLE 11 HEATING SYSTEMS, Queensland - 1999, 2002 and 2005
Since reverse cycling coolers also function as heaters, a reverse cycle unit will appear as both a heater and a cooler in these statistics. This duality could explain not only the popularity of reverse cycling systems at the expense of other heating and cooling systems, but also the slight increase in heating systems in Queensland households. Reverse cycle systems may in part account for an increase in heaters which may not have occurred if they had to be acquired separately.
As shown in Graph 12, 58% of Queensland households had a cooler system in 2005 (i.e. air conditioner or evaporative cooler), compared with 60% of Australian households. Between 1994 and 2005, the proportion of Queensland households with cooling systems increased from 18% to 58%, outstripping the national growth from 33% to 60% over the same period.
GRAPH 12 COOLER SYSTEMS, Queensland and Australia - 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005
Reverse cycling/heat pump was the most common cooling system in Queensland in 2005, accounting for 61% of all household coolers (Table 13). Refrigerated cooling systems were the second most popular, representing 27% of cooling systems in Queensland households, followed by evaporative cooling at 10%.
Between 1994 and 2005, the proportion of households with reverse cycle cooling systems in Queensland increased from 37% to 61%, while refrigerated and evaporative water cooler systems declined from 39% to 27% and from 19% to 10%, respectively, over the same period.
In 2005, split systems were the most popular cooler types in Queensland households (47%), up from 24% in 2002. In contrast, wall/window installation coolers have experienced a large decrease, down from 79% in 1994 to 37% in 2005.
Between 2002 and 2005, the proportion of Queensland households using coolers for 6 months or more decreased from 13% to 11%, while the proportion of households using coolers for less than 3 months increased from 41% to 50%.
TABLE 13 COOLER SYSTEMS(a)(b), Queensland - 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005
Green Power Schemes
This final section looks at the awareness of households of Green Power scheme and the associated Green Power product. Green Power generally refers to the electricity generated from renewable energy resources like solar, wind, biomass, wave and tidal power, hydro-electricity, and geothermal electricity. Green Power schemes enable electricity consumers to pay a premium for electricity generated from renewable sources. The scheme has been operating in Queensland for the past 6 years. Accreditation for Green Power is provided by the National Green Power Accreditation Program (footnote 6).
In 2005, 27% of households in Queensland were aware of the Green Power scheme, with slightly higher awareness in Brisbane SD (29%) than in the remainder of the state (26%) (Table 14). At the Australian level, 29% of households were aware of the Green Power scheme.
Only a quarter (25%) of Queensland households were willing to pay extra for the Green Power scheme in 2005. There was a greater willingness to pay this premium in the Brisbane SD than in the remainder of the state, with 27% of households in the Brisbane SD willing to pay extra compared with 24% for the rest of Queensland. Out of all Australian households, 24% were willing to pay the premium for the Green Power scheme.
The preferred amount Queensland households were willing to pay extra for the Green Power scheme in 2005 was under $50 per annum, with 24% of households in the Brisbane SD and 30% of households in the rest of state willing to pay this amount. A similar preference was found nationally, as 31% of Australian households were willing to pay under $50 per annum for the Green Power scheme.
TABLE 14 GREEN POWER SCHEME AWARENESS AND WILLINGNESS TO PAY FOR GREEN POWER, Queensland - 2005
1. Sustainable Energy Authority Victoria, 2004, Thermal mass, Accessed from
<http://www.sustainable-energy.vic.gov.au/SEInfo/fact%20sheets/building%20and%20design/Thermal%20mass.pdf> on 29 June 2006.2. AGO (Australian Greenhouse Office) 2005a, Your Home Technical Manual, Chapter 1 Passive Design, 1.6a Insulation: Overview , Accessed from
<http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/yourhome/technical/fs16a.htm> on 29 June 2006.3. DEUS (New South Wales Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability) 2005a, Lighting your home, Accessed from
<energysmart.com.au/brochures/lighting.pdf> on 29 June 2006. (Department abolished in April 2007).4. DEUS 2005b Windows in your home, Accessed from <energysmart.com.au/brochures/windows.pdf> on 29 June 2006. (Department abolished in April 2007).5. AGO 2005b, History of the labelling program in Australia, Accessed from <http://www.energyrating.gov.au/history.html>
on 29 June 2006.6. DEUS 2006 National Green Power Accreditation Program: Quarterly Status Report, 1 January to 31 March, 2006, Accessed from
<http://www.greenpower.gov.au/downloads/reportsaudits/2006Q1Report.pdf> on 29 June 2006.
Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0)