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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The concept of housing utilisation is based upon a comparison of the number of bedrooms in a dwelling with a series of household demographics such as the number of usual residents, their relationship to one another, age and sex. There is no single standard measure of housing utilisation. However, the Canadian National Occupancy Standard (CNOS) is applied in the HECS and is widely used internationally.

The CNOS is sensitive to both household size and composition. The measure assesses the bedroom requirements of a household by specifying that:

  • there should be no more than two persons per bedroom
  • children less than five years of age of different sexes may reasonably share a bedroom
  • children less than 18 years of age and of the same sex may reasonably share a bedroom
  • single household members 18 years and over should have a separate bedroom, as should parents or couples
  • a lone person household may reasonably occupy a bed sitter.

The CNOS variable compares the number of bedrooms required with the actual number of bedrooms in the dwelling. Households living in dwellings where this standard cannot be met are considered to be overcrowded.


Housing costs are regular outlays made by household members in providing shelter for themselves. The data collected on housing outlays in the HECS are limited to major outlays on housing, i.e. mortgage repayments, rent, property and water rates as well as body corporate fees.

Only payments that relate to the dwelling occupied by the household at time of interview, i.e. a respondent's usual place of residence, are included. Housing costs only include mortgage/loan repayment if the purpose of the loan at the time it was initially taken out was primarily to buy, build, add to, or alter the occupied dwelling.

For further information on the limitations of housing costs, housing costs and household income, and housing stress measures, please see the 'Housing Utilisation' chapter of the Survey of Income and Housing, User Guide, Australia, 2011-12 (cat. no. 6553.0).