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Energy expenditure and consumption
Energy-related behaviours and perceptions
Energy expenditure and consumption
Climate zones are based on the humidity, temperature and rainfall characteristics of a particular area. The amount of energy required by a household to maintain a comfortable standard of living varies with the extremity of the climate they live in. While most parts of Australia experience very hot temperatures in summer the level of cold temperatures during winter varies considerably across the country. Zone 1 for instance experiences high temperatures all year round, while Zone 7 experiences hot summers and cold to very cold winters, where conditions are often outside human comfort ranges. (Endnote 1)
Average expenditure of energy for dwellings in Australia in 2012 was $39 per week, but reflecting the higher variation in annual temperatures, expenditure on energy for dwellings in each climate zone were:
Zone 1 - $38 per week
Relative expenditures on dwelling energy across Australia can be understood by ranking all energy costs across Australia in ascending order, and examining where households in different climate zones fall in this distribution. This analysis shows that one third (33%) of Zone 2 households fall in the bottom 20% of expenditures (the lowest quintile) spending $18 or less per week on dwelling energy. By contrast, 29% of households in Zone 7 appear in the highest quintile, spending $55 or more per week on dwelling energy, likely reflecting higher heating requirements in particular in this zone.
It is also possible to look at total energy costs as a proportion of gross household weekly income. Using this approach, households in Zones 4 and 7 spent a higher proportion of their gross income on energy compared to the national average. Households in Zone 4 spent 6.8% ($104 per week) and households in Zone 7 spent 6.3% ($112 per week) on household energy. By contrast, households in Zone 5 spent 4.6% ($93 per week) of their gross income on energy, less than the national average.
Households in Zone 1 were the highest consumers of electricity, consuming an average of 153.6 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per week (24% above the national average), likely reflecting higher cooling requirements and types of cooling systems used in this zone. In comparison, households in Zone 6 consumed an average of 115.7 kWh of electricity per week (6% below the national average). (Endnote 2)
Households in Zones 6 and 7 were the highest consumers of mains gas, consuming an average of around 950 megajoules (MJ) of mains gas per week (45% and 42% above the national average). Households in Zone 1 were the lowest consumers of LPG/ bottled gas, consuming an average of 3.2 litres of LPG/ bottled gas per week (57% below the national average).
Interactive maps of electricity consumption and dwelling energy expenditure by climate zone and state are available for download (as a KMZ file) for use in Google Earth in the 'Downloads' tab of this product (see the Appendix 'Mapping with Google Earth®' for more information). These maps are useful in highlighting some of the differences between state and territories within common climate zones. For instance, within Zone 1, households in the Northern Territory consumed significantly more electricity per week (187.6 kWh) than households in Queensland (143.4 kWh).Dwelling characteristics
The most common energy source used in dwellings in warmer climates zones was electricity, with no other sources of energy present. Around two thirds of households in Zones 1 and 2 (64% and 65% of households respectively) and nearly half of Zone 3 households (49%) used electricity only in their dwelling.
For colder climate zones, electricity and mains gas (with no other sources of energy) were the most common energy sources used in households. More than half of households in in Zones 5 and 6 (56% and 63% respectively) used electricity and mains gas only. 42% of households used mains gas and electricity only in their dwellings in Zone 7, however this rate is impacted by the availability of mains gas connections in some areas of Zone 7 (for instance, only 4% of households in Tasmania used electricity and mains gas only compared to 66% of ACT households).
The most common type of dwelling structures across all climate zones were separate houses. The highest rate of separate houses were in Zones 3, 4 and 7 (93%, 89% and 87% of dwellings respectively), with more than half of the dwellings in these zones aged 30 years and over. By contrast, the lowest rates of separate houses were for Zones 5 (72%) which was significantly lower than the national average, and may also contribute to Zone 5's relatively lower energy expenditure and consumption values.
Around a quarter of households in Zone 1 (26%) had either a solar electricity or hot water system (or both) in their dwelling, significantly higher than the national average of 15%. By contrast, only 8% of households in Zone 7 had a solar electricity or hot water system.
Electric hot water systems were more common that other systems in households across Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4, while mains gas hot water systems were more common than other systems in Zones 5, 6 and 7.
There were similar average numbers of compact fluorescent lamps installed in key living areas in households across all climate zones (around three to four globes per dwelling). Households in Zones 1, 3 and 4 had higher numbers of fluorescent tube lights installed in key living areas (1.63, 1.69 and 1.19 respectively) compared to the national average (0.79). (Endnote 3)
Households in Zone 6 had the highest number of halogen lights installed in key living areas (4.11) compared to the national average (3.66). Incandescent lights were generally more prevalent in colder climate zones.
Heating and cooling
Reverse cycle heat pump systems and electric heaters were the most common appliances used for heating during winter in households across all climate zones (0.36 and 0.33 systems per household respectively). Households in Zone 5 had the highest number of reverse cycle heat pump systems per household compared to the national average (0.43 compared with 0.36).
The average number of ducted gas heating systems per household differed across all climate zones. Households in Zones 6 and 7 had the highest average number of ducted gas systems per household compared to the national average (0.35 and 0.25 respectively compared to 0.16). Households in Zones 1 and 3 had no ducted gas systems on average.
Reflecting cooling requirements in hot climates, households in Zone 1 had the highest average number of ceiling fans per household (3.78) compared to the national average (0.77). While reverse cycle air conditioners were popular across all climate zones, the average number per household was highest in Zone 1 (0.93) compared to the national average (0.53).
Energy-related behaviours and perceptions
Nine out of every ten households (91%) in Zone 4 dried clothes on a washing line for most or all washes (more than the national average of 87%).
More than a third (38%) of households in Zone 6 and nearly half (45%) of households in Zone 7 used draft proof sealing on their doors and windows (more than the national average of 30%). Zone 1 had the lowest proportion of households who used draft proof sealing (8%).
Cooling or air conditioning was most commonly perceived as the main contributor to household energy costs by households in Zone 1 and 3 (43% and 32% of households respectively). Home heating was most commonly perceived as the main contributor by households in Zones 7 and 6 (55% and 43% of households respectively). Water heating was most commonly perceived as the main contributor in Zones 2 and 5 (32% and 27% of households respectively).
1. Australian Building Codes Board, 2012, Climate zone maps: December 2012, <www.abcb.gov.au>
2. Information on units of electricity and gas were only supplied by households who could locate this information on a bill or statement. The rate of households in each climate zone who supplied electricity consumption information ranged from 54% of households in Zone 4 to 70% of households in Zone 6. For mains gas and LPG/ bottled gas consumption information, rates were more influenced more by the prevalence of the energy source within the climate zone. For instance, there were no households who reported mains gas in Zone 1, while around two-thirds of households in Zones 4, 5, 6 and 7 who had a mains gas connection reported consumption data.
3. Information on lighting and appliances is available only for households who completed a paper questionnaire. Overall approximately three quarters (75%) of households completed the paper questionnaire, however this rate varied from 61% of households in Zone 4 to 79% of households in Zone 6. Lighting information was asked for lights in key living areas, which included the kitchen, dining room, lounge/ family room and main bedroom.
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