4670.0 - Household Energy Consumption Survey, Australia: Summary of Results, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/09/2013  First Issue
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Energy expenditure and consumption
Dwelling characteristics
Energy-related behaviours and perceptions

Energy expenditure and consumption

Energy costs are influenced by many factors within a household, including the number of adults and children and the relationship between household members. Family households include couple families (with or without dependent children), one parent families and 'other' one family households. (see Endnote 1) Other household types include lone persons, group households and multiple family households.

Among family households, couple families with dependent children and 'other' one family households had the highest expenditures on total household energy ($133 and $132 per week, respectively). Within their dwelling, couple families with dependent children spent more on electricity and mains gas ($39 and $11 per week respectively) than 'other' one family households ($33 and $9 per week). In contrast, expenditure on vehicle fuel was higher among 'other' one family households ($88 per week) compared to couple families with dependent children ($81 per week).

Although couple families with dependent children included more people on average (4.1 persons) than 'other' one family households (2.9 persons), their total energy expenditures are similar. This suggests that energy costs associated with having dependent children are lower than for households with non-dependent children or other adults present. Accordingly, one parent families with dependent children (3.1 persons on average) spent the least on energy costs ($87 per week), while couple only households (2.0 persons) spent slightly more ($94 per week).

Graph Image for Household energy expenditure by family composition ($ per week)

Among other household types, lone person households had the lowest total energy costs ($49 per week), while multiple family households had the highest average number of people (5.3 persons per household), and the highest average energy expenditure ($176 per week).

It is also possible to look at energy costs as a proportion of gross household weekly income. Using this approach, one parent families with dependent children have the highest relative energy costs, representing 6.9% of their gross household income, significantly higher than that of all other household types. Couple families with dependent children, couples only and group households had the lowest relative energy costs (5.0%, 5.1% and 4.7% respectively).

Graph Image for Household energy expenditure as proportion of gross income by family composition

Energy consumption patterns, in terms of units of energy consumed in their dwellings, generally followed expenditure patterns among groups based on their family composition type. (Endnote 2) Among family households for instance, couple families with dependent children and 'other' one family households consumed similar amounts of electricity on average (159.1 kilowatt hours (kWh) and 156.0 kWh respectively), while lone person households used the least amount (75.1 kWh per week). Bottled gas consumption however was similar across most family composition types. Dwelling characteristics

Nine in every ten (90%) couple family households with dependent children lived in a separate house, significantly higher than other one family household types (where between 81 and 84% lived in separate houses). Lone person and group households were less likely to live in a separate house (61% and 58% respectively), instead occupying other dwelling types such as flats, units, apartments or townhouses at higher rates than family households.

Solar electricity and hot water systems were more common among couple families (around 19% of those with dependent children or living by themselves) and 'other' one family households (16%) than one parent families with dependent children (7%). Lone person and group households also had lower rates of solar systems (9% and 10% respectively).

Electric hot water systems were more common among one parent families with dependent children (52%) than 'other' one family household types. A similar rate of lone person households also used electric hot water systems (55%).
Energy-related behaviours and perceptions

Compared to lone persons, more couple families and 'other' one family households used energy efficient light bulbs in most of their lights, used cold water for all or most of their clothes washing, used low flow shower heads and switched off chargers for rechargeable appliances when not in use. One parent families were less likely to dry clothes on a washing line for all or most washes (82%) than 'other' one family households (between 86% and 90% performed these actions). (Endnote 3)

More couples with dependent children (29%) than couples living by themselves (26%) perceived heating their home as the activity which contributed most to their household energy costs in the last 12 months. Almost a third of 'other' one family households (30%) perceived water heating as the main activity contributing to their energy costs, significantly higher than for couples with dependent children (24%).

1. 'Other' one family households mostly consist of families which include either couples or lone parents with non-dependent children, other relatives or unrelated persons present. They may also consist of two or more related individuals where the relationship is not a couple or parent-child relationship (e.g. two brothers).
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 who supplied consumption information varied, but was lowest among one parent families with dependent children and group households.
3. Certain energy efficient behaviours may not be widely known to other household members. Therefore, some caution should be taken interpreting behaviours reported by certain types of households such as group households or multiple family households, where the actions of all household members may not be known by the individual answering the question on behalf of the household.