1304.5 - Stats Talk WA (Newsletter), Jun 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/07/2007   
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Feature Article

Water and Energy - State Supplementary Surveys

What is a State Supplementary Survey?
The State Supplementary Survey is an annual household-based survey that provides an ideal opportunity for Western Australian Government agencies to obtain high quality statistical information about specific aspects of Western Australian economic or social life which can assist in the formulation of policy strategies.

The survey is conducted free of charge as a supplement to the ABS Monthly Labour Force Survey in October each year. The State Supplementary Survey has a sample size in WA of 3,500 households which includes metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.

Supplementary surveys must be suitable for face to face and telephone interviewing and the ‘Any Responsible Adult’ (ARA) method. The ARA method involves obtaining information from one individual (aged 15 years or older) per selected household, therefore this method can only be used for collecting information on topics where a member of the household can answer questions on behalf of the household.

How are topics selected?
In April of every year, the ABS’ WA Regional Director sends out letters to all Directors General of Government Departments and applicable agencies inviting them to identify topics that may be suitable for the survey vehicle. A submission kit is made available to interested agencies which explains the survey process and its methodological restraints.

After submissions are received, research is conducted into the proposed topic to determine its suitability. Usually in June, the Statistical Policy Committee (SPC) which consists of ABS and State Government representatives, meets to discuss submissions and selects a topic based on State Government statistical priorities.

For the 2006 State Supplementary Survey, the SPC selected the topic of Domestic Use of Water and Energy following submissions from the Water Corporation and the Office of Energy. Both submissions were found to be suitable for a combined survey.

Survey development and the role of State Government
The WA Supplementary Survey involves significant development and testing, both of the questionnaire and the interview process. After the 2006 survey topic was selected by the SPC, extensive research was conducted into existing survey data and questionnaires. The ABS convened a user group consisting of representatives from The Water Corporation, Office of Energy, Department of Environment and Conservation, Department for Consumer and Employment Protection (Energy Safety division), Western Power and Department of Housing and Works.

The user group plays an important role in identifying what data items are required to make informed policy decisions. Throughout the process the ABS consults with the user group as part of the development of the survey to ensure that the ABS collects and disseminates data that is of the highest quality and meets the needs of WA State Government.

2006 Domestic Use of Water and Energy
The results of the 2006 State Supplementary Survey on the Domestic Use of Water and Energy (ABS cat. no. 4652.5) were released on 19 April, 2007.

The survey provided a snapshot of WA’s household water and energy usage, which allowed the most common consumption patterns to be identified.

As at October 2006, the majority (95%) of households in WA rely on mains water supply for their water needs, and of these 22% also have bore water and 9% have a rain water tank.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of WA’s homes have air conditioning, and most (89%) have heating. Only about one in six households (15%) have a solar hot water system.

Nearly all Perth households have gardens and lawns (92%), and more than two-thirds (68%) of these used mulch on their garden in the previous year. Over a third (36%) of Perth households recycle water into the garden, and most households in Perth (84%) use dual flush toilets.

Water use
The most common uses for rain water were for drinking (68%), watering the garden (43%) and food preparation (32%).

More than a quarter (26%) of Perth households used bore water. Over a quarter (26%) of Perth households have a front loading washing machine. More than a third (38%) of Perth households have a dishwasher.

Energy use
Almost a third (32%) of WA households use ducted evaporative cooling and a further quarter (25%) use reverse cycle split system air conditioning. Portable unflued gas heaters warmed just over a third (36%) of all WA households. More than half (56%) of WA households have a mains gas hot water system.

Cooling and Heating

Cooling units
Three-quarters of WA households used an air conditioner or evaporative cooling (567,600 or 71%).

Of the different cooler types and positions the most common units used in WA homes were ducted evaporative coolers (32%) followed by reverse cycle split system air conditioners (25%).

An estimated 709,800 WA households reported having some form of heating (89%). Almost half of these households reported that their main heater was a gas heater (46%).

One in five households used a reverse-cycle air conditioner as their main heater (21%), 17% used wood and a further 14% used an electric heater. Gas was the most popular form of heating across all household sizes.

Further information
The 2007 survey will be on the topic of ‘Community Preparedness for Emergencies’. While submissions for the 2008 topic have now closed, look out for next year’s opportunity to have a survey run in 2009.

If you have any queries about the State Supplementary Survey process or would like to discuss how your agency could develop a survey with the WA ABS Office for no cost, please contact Cal Hoad on (08) 9360 5947.