Understanding NSW energy use patterns

NSW households are changing how they use their electricity. Since 2007 the average electricity used per person has fallen by almost 1 per cent each year. Energy efficiency, increased electricity costs and the effects of the Global Financial Crisis are some of the broad drivers, but exactly how and why people’s behaviour is changing is not yet clear.

TransGrid needs to understand electricity consumption patterns to make decisions about when and where changes to the transmission network are needed. In 2013 we engaged Capitalis, a research company, to take a closer look at NSW households’ electricity consumption behaviour and attitudes. Capitalis surveyed a representative sample of NSW households – over 1,200 in total – and have now delivered some fascinating insights.  Below are some key outcomes.

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Strong focus on the environment

All electricity should be generated from renewable sources like solar and wind power, said almost two thirds of survey respondents. Women may be more likely than men to feel personally responsible for using energy from clean, renewable resources, as 52% of female respondents felt this way compared to 40% of male respondents.

Electricity reliability is vital

Unsurprisingly, 95% of respondents said that reliability of the electricity supply is vital. In fact, 80% of respondents consider that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that electricity supply matches electricity demanded. Of particular interest was the breakdown between respondents – households made up of older couples or singles tended to value reliability more than young families or younger people.  

Households prefer low-cost and easy electricity savings measures

Around 70% of respondents had looked for ways to reduce their bills in the past 12 months. Households generally opted for energy saving measures that didn’t need much initial financial investment and did not cause inconvenience. For example, of the households that had tried to reduce energy consumption, 95% had switched off lights in unused rooms, 84% had used energy-saving light bulbs, and 75% had hung their laundry out on the line instead of using their dryer.

By comparison, measures that have greater energy savings but higher upfront cost or inconvenience were less likely to be implemented. These measures include installing solar hot water systems, installing double-glazed windows, or reducing the number of hours per day that a pool pump is operated. 

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Some respondents had particular reasons why they didn’t feel they could implement electricity saving measures. For example, 12% of respondents said that being renters rather than home owners inhibited them, as most high-involvement energy saving measures require modifications to a building, for example installing double-glazed windows to reduce heating and cooling costs.

Where to from here

The challenge now is for TransGrid to incorporate these findings into how we make our network planning decisions and how we interact with electricity consumers. 

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Related Documents

NSW Electricity Consumption Survey Results July-August 2013
Electricity Consumption Survey Results July-August_2013