4671.0 - Household Energy Consumption Survey, User Guide, Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/09/2013  First Issue
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This document was added or updated on 08/10/2013.



The Business Survey of Residential Electricity Distribution (BSRED), Experimental Estimates presents metered electricity volumes supplied between residential dwellings and distributor networks by various spatial metrics.

This release is aimed to assist commonwealth and state governments and various industry and community groups who have expressed a need for information on residential electricity use at a regional level. For example, the need for improved residential electricity use statistics was highlighted within the Energy White Paper 2012. The white paper also made many links to regional issues related to energy.

While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and reliability, care should be exercised in the use and interpretation of BSRED Experimental Estimates. Readers are invited to submit comments on results to help inform and improve work in this area.

Aggregated outputs are published for 2010, 2011 and 2012 calendar years by:

      • Meter type (net, gross and non generating)
      • Statistical Area (SA2, SA3 and SA4)
      • Climate Zones (as defined by the Australian Building Codes Board), and
      • State (excluding VIC, SA, WA, ACT and NT).


The BSRED Experimental Estimates and the HECS collections are both funded as part of the Clean Energy Future program. The information collected through the BSRED Experimental Estimates may be used to complement the HECS estimates and provides historical electricity supply data at a fine geographic level.



Statistics in this publication are derived from electricity metering information collected by the ABS from administrative records held by electricity distributors within each state and territory.

There are 15 electricity distributors that supply electricity to approximately 9.1 million residential dwellings in Australia.


The scope of the statistics:

      • Annual volumes (kWh) of electricity supplied from the distributor network grid to meters on residential tariffs, by calendar years 2010, 2011 and 2012.
      • Annual volumes (kWh) of electricity supplied from meters on residential tariffs to the distributor network grid, by calendar years 2010, 2011 and 2012. This is the electricity generated by residential dwellings (e.g. from solar panels).
      • All states but not territories. While information was provided by the NT and ACT it was not able to be used to generate estimates.
      • Statistical Area (2, 3 & 4) for estimates that could be supported by the data provided.

      Note: Residential tariff outputs may also include a small proportion of dwellings with business functions (e.g. home based businesses).

        • Dwellings on "Pay As You Go" metering.
        • Meters on a tariff other than "residential".
        • Meters identified as "strata" or "body corporate". This is the electricity supplied to common property (e.g. elevators, corridor lighting) that are used by all owners or tenants of a subdivided property.
        • Electricity supplied to communities that are "off grid" or "remote area" such as electricity from small generators or local industry sites (e.g. mining communities).
        • Other domestic non-electricity sources (e.g. gas).

    ELECTRICITY METER TYPES (Net, Gross and Non generation)

    An electricity meter is a device that measures the amount of electric energy used by a residence, business, or an electrically powered device. The way in which a meter records electricity supply and generation volumes depends on the type of meter the dwelling is utilising. Figure 1 outlines the three types of meters collected by BSRED Experimental Estimates.

    Dwellings that generate electricity (e.g. from solar panels):
        • Net metering, and
        • Gross metering.

    Dwellings that do not generate electricity:
        • Non generation metering.

    Net metering
    Electricity generated is consumed by the dwelling in the first instance, with any excess generation exported to the electricity grid. If a dwelling's electricity requirements exceed its generation capabilities, then energy is imported from the network grid.

    Note: Total electricity consumption and generation for a dwelling with net metering is unknown, as the amount of generated energy used within the dwelling is not captured by the meter. Only the shortfall of electricity that is imported to the dwelling or the excess of electricity generated that is exported to the grid is measured by this type of meter.

    Gross metering
    Total electricity supply and generation volumes are captured and recorded separately by the meter.

    Non generation metering
    All electricity supplied to the dwelling is imported from the electricity grid. The dwelling does not have access to small scale electricity technologies and, therefore, there is no generation of electricity.

    This is an image portraying the three different types of electricity meters.


    Each state and territory government has a legislated regime for meters to measure energy produced by small renewable energy generators. Below is an overview of the types of renewable metering methods by state:
        • New South Wales – Gross and Net metering
        • Victoria – Net metering
        • Queensland - Net metering
        • South Australia – Net metering
        • Western Australia - Net metering
        • Tasmania – Net metering
        • Northern Territory - Gross metering
        • Australian Capital Territory – Gross and Net metering.


    Statistical areas are classifications used within the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). The ASGS brings all the regions for which the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes statistics within the one framework and will be used by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics.

    The ASGS structure has six hierarchical levels comprising in ascending order: mesh blocks, SA1s, SA2s, SA3s, SA4s and state/territories. Each level directly aggregates to the level above. Therefore, SA1s are aggregates of mesh blocks and aggregate to SA2s. This principle continues up through the remaining levels of the hierarchy.

    For further information on ABS statistical areas, see Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001).


    SA2s represent the smallest units of the ASGS structure for which BSRED Experimental Estimates data is published.

    SA2s do not cross state or territory borders. In total, there are 2,196 SA2 spatial units, which cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps. SA2s generally have a population range of 3,000 to 25,000 people and an average of 10,000 people.

    Locality information (suburb/locality, postcode and state) collected through the BSRED Experimental Estimates was used to allocate an SA2 for each residential electricity meter. Where the suburb overlapped more than one SA2, the data was allocated to the SA2 that had the most overlapping dwellings according to census dwelling counts in the underlying mesh blocks that make up each SA2.


    SA3s are built from whole SA2s. In general, the SA3s are designed to have populations between 30,000 and 130,000 persons.

    SA3s are often the functional areas of regional towns and cities with a population in excess of 20,000 or clusters of related suburbs around urban commercial and transport hubs within the major urban areas.


    The SA4 regions are the largest sub-state regions in the main structure of the ASGS. SA4s are built from whole SA3s

    In regional areas, SA4s tend to have populations closer to the minimum (100,000 - 300,000). In metropolitan areas, the SA4s tend to have larger populations (300,000 - 500,000).


    The climate zone classifications used for both the HECS and Business Survey of Residential Electricity Distribution (BSRED) Experimental Estimates are based on the eight climatic zones defined by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). Each climatic zone is based on humidity, temperature and rainfall characteristics. For further information please see the 'Climate Zone' section of this user guide.

    The ABS has approximated the ABCB climate zones using ASGS 2011 mesh blocks. Where a mesh block overlapped with more than one climate zone boundary, the mesh block was allocated to the climate zone that had the most dwellings contained in the overlap. This approximation has resulted in some small differences between the ABS and ABCB versions.
    Map: Climate zones by 2011 mesh blocks, Australia.

    To allow electricity (SA2 level outputs) and climate zone (mesh block) comparisons, the ABS has assigned an ABCB climate zone for each SA2. Where an SA2 overlapped more than one climate zone, census dwelling counts for the mesh blocks that make up the SA2 were used to determine which climate zone contained the most overlapping dwellings and the whole SA2 was allocated to that climate zone. A climate zone map built from these whole allocated SA2s, therefore, shows some misalignment with the original ABCB climate zones where SA2s and climate zones did not align exactly.

    Map: Predominate climate zone by SA2, Australia.
    The location information (suburb/locality, postcode and state) collected through the BSRED Experimental Estimates was used to allocate climate zones to each residential electricity meter. For suburbs/localities that covered more than one climate zone, the meter records were allocated to the climate zone containing the most overlapping dwellings using the census dwelling counts of the mesh blocks that make up the suburb/locality.

    For confidentiality reasons, climate zone 8 (alpine residential meters) has been suppressed. Meters within this zone have been allocated to the surrounding climate zones.

    STATE OUTPUTS (excluding VIC, SA, WA, ACT and NT)

    The BSRED Experimental Estimates aggregated outputs are available for New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.

    Statistics for the remaining states of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are expected to be published in December 2013.

    Outputs for the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory will not be released.


    The data presented in this release represents the result of recent development work. While every effort has been made to ensure their accuracy and reliability, the estimates are experimental and care should be exercised in their use and interpretation. The fitness of the data for particular purposes should be determined by data users with consultation with the ABS.

    The estimates in this publication have been extracted from administrative records held by electricity distribution businesses in each state and territory. The data represent a census of these businesses and are therefore not subject to sampling error. Nevertheless, non-sampling errors may still arise during the extraction and processing of data received from electricity distributors. The ABS has worked closely with electricity distribution businesses to best ensure that extracted data meet quality requirements of decision makers, in particular, in ensuring that survey outputs reflect appropriate scope, coverage, and data item definitions.

    While the ABS and electricity distribution businesses have made every effort to develop a consistent set of rules for scope, coverage, and data item definitions, to minimise non-sampling error, such errors will be present in the estimates. For example, the ABS has made various adjustments related to such things as non-response, late response and incomplete data. These modifications affect data for several states.


    Administrative data are produced in the course of providing services to client groups or otherwise undertaking the core business of an agency, and as such, are shaped by the business practices and the environment within which the agency is operating. There are key advantages associated with collating statistics from administrative data. Generally, administrative data essentially takes the form of a census, in that all the data recorded through the administrative process is potentially available for statistical analysis. Hence the data are not subject to sampling error which is associated with survey data. Administrative data also has the capacity for ongoing, efficient data collection without incurring the additional enumeration cost associated with conducting surveys.

    There are also disadvantages associated with using administrative data. Data quality may be variable as there can be conflicting demands on record keepers, and statistics are rarely the primary purpose for which the data are collected. Furthermore, definitions of data items may not exactly match the definitions of the data items of interest to others outside of the agency, which can make comparability challenging.


    BSRED Experimental Estimates collected the following data items for each residential meter:
    • National Meter Identifier (NMI)
    • Suburb
    • Postcode
    • State
    • Date of meter read
    • Number of days in read
    • Quality of recording of supply from the grid
    • Quantity of supply from the grid (kWh)
    • Electricity generation (Y/N)
    • Type of recording of supply to the grid (Net/Gross)
    • Quantity of supply to the network grid (kWh).


    These notes are intended as a general guide to the method of calculating estimates of electricity imports and exports to the network grid. For more detail on the methods please contact the Director, Centre of Environmental Statistics Section, Australian Bureau of Statistics (email address: michael.vardon@abs.gov.au).

    Outputs have been derived from electricity metering information collected by the ABS from administrative records held by electricity distributors within each state and territory. The BSRED collected data from all 15 of the businesses in Australia that supply residential electricity and covers approximately 9.1 million meters.

    All individual electricity meter readings within the period of 1 January to 31 December for each of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 calendar years were processed and then aggregated up into SA2s. The SA2 is the smallest unit of output followed by SA3, SA4 and state.

    The majority of the data were derived from direct aggregation of electricity meter reads. In the cases where values were found to be inconsistent internally or with other data sources, information was sought from data providers and when necessary adjustments were made using standard statistical methodologies to produce more accurate estimates.


    Where necessary, tables have had values suppressed to protect confidentiality.