which households consume the most electricity?

HOUSEHOLDS on the upper north shore of Sydney are among the biggest culprits in consuming household electricity, the main driver of domestic contribution to climate change.

As consumers brace for a surge in electricity prices of up to 18 per cent from July 1, figures reveal that households in the Ku-ring-gai area are Sydney’s largest consumers of electricity, while those in the inner city consume the least on average.

The wealthy inner areas of Hunters Hill and Woollahra are also high on Sydney’s 38 local council areas ranked by average household electricity, constructed by the Herald from data provided by the distribution networks, Ausgrid (formerly EnergyAustralia) and Endeavour Energy (formerly Integral Energy).

On average, each Sydney household consumed a little more than 7000 kilowatt hours last financial year, making an average bill this financial year of about $1510, excluding rebates.

But Ku-ring-gai households had an average bill of $2477 after consuming an average each of 10,453 kilowatt hours. This is more than double that of the lowest consuming Sydney area, where households paid an average annual bill of $1039 after consuming an average 4537 kilowatt hours. Nearly three out of four households in the Sydney local government area are apartments, compared with 13 per cent in Ku-ring-gai.

An energy-efficiency specialist at Ausgrid, Craig Tupper, said Ku-ring-gai Council area’s position at the top of the list was no surprise. “A lot of large homes, not many apartments or semis, lots of very large homes with probably a fairly higher than average number of residents per home and fairly affluent. You add all those things together and you will get a lot more appliances, higher heating and cooling costs.”

But he said it would be a mistake to conclude apartments were a more environmentally friendly option. Big apartment blocks used electricity to light foyers, heat swimming pools and operate lifts, for which the bill went to the body corporate, and hence not reflected in the figures.

A spokesman for Ku-ring-gai Council said that per capita its residents were the highest users of all council areas of state rebates for energy-efficient hot water systems and washing machines.

The outer western areas of Penrith, Liverpool and Camden also ranked in the top 10. A spokesman for Endeavour Energy said this was attributable to hotter summers and more homes having air conditioning.

Mr Tupper from Ausgrid said household use across its network had fallen 2 per cent for the past four years. “We believe that it’s being driven by more energy-efficient behaviour, the installation of energy-efficient appliances and greater penetration of gas and solar hot water systems.”

But Sydney households are still consuming 2½ times the power they did in the 1950s.
A survey last week for Origin Energy found many Australians were still not convinced their actions at home would affect the environment or that individually they could make a difference. People were confused about how to act and expected government to educate them.

Chris Ryan, a director of the Banksia Environmental Foundation and a co-director of the Australian centre for science, innovation and society at the University of Melbourne, said it showed that while most people recognised sustainability in the home was important they found it difficult to reduce consumption.

About 80 per cent of people planned to reduce consumption and realised energy costs were rising but were unclear why. “When the question asks them if they haven’t taken any action, why not, what comes through there significantly is they don’t feel it would make a difference.”

One reason for inaction, Professor Ryan said, was that people were less community-minded and more isolated as individual households, so did not see a “multiplier effect” of communities taking action.

Total household electricity supply in FY 2009/10

Rank  Local Government Area kWh per household

1

 KU-RING-GAI

10,453

2

BAULKHAM HILLS

10,345

3

 HUNTERS HILL

9,252

4

PENRITH

8,972

5

CAMDEN

8,762

6

 HORNSBY

8,344

7

 SUTHERLAND

8,327

8

 WOOLLAHRA

8,089

9

LIVERPOOL

7,982

10

 PITTWATER

7,844

11

CAMPBELLTOWN

7,791

12

 MOSMAN

7,609

13

BLACKTOWN

7,446

14

 BANKSTOWN

7,301

15

 LANE COVE

7,286

16

FAIRFIELD

7,219

17

 WARRINGAH

6,870

18

 KOGARAH

6,792

19

 WILLOUGHBY

6,735

20

 STRATHFIELD

6,724

21

 HURSTVILLE

6,511

22

 RYDE

6,510

23

PARRAMATTA

6,426

24

HOLROYD

6,408

25

 MANLY

6,243

26

 BURWOOD

6,150

27

 CANADA BAY

6,139

28

 ROCKDALE

5,787

29

 CANTERBURY

5,782

30

 AUBURN

5,611

31

 WAVERLEY

5,605

32

 RANDWICK

5,582

33

 LEICHHARDT

5,373

34

 BOTANY BAY

5,323

35

 ASHFIELD

5,156

36

 NORTH SYDNEY

5,120

37

 MARRICKVILLE

4,949

38

 SYDNEY

4,537

AVERAGE

7004.314

Sources: Endeavour Energy and Ausgrid.

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