4652.5 - Domestic Use of Water and Energy, WA, Oct 2006  
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This publication contains results from the State Supplementary Survey conducted in Western Australia (WA) in October 2006. It presents information on energy using devices, water using appliances and the water use behaviour of households in WA. Topics covered include cooling and heating devices, water sources, water heating, water using appliances and facilities, garden water use, swimming pools and electrical safety.

Data items were collected from Any Responsible Adult (ARA) on behalf of the household. A full data item list is available in the Appendix.


The survey was conducted as a supplement to the ABS Monthly Population Survey. Please refer to the Explanatory Notes at the back of this publication for further details about this survey.

For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Carolann Hoad on Perth (08) 9360 5947.



In October 2006, there were an estimated 800,800 households in WA. Almost all WA households used mains electricity, 68% used mains gas and 17% used solar energy. It was more likely for multiple energy sources to be used in separate houses, rather than in semi-detached, row or terrace houses or flats, units and apartments. One in five separate houses used solar energy, compared with 4% in other dwelling types.


Cooling units

At the time of the survey almost 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%).

Graph: Most common type of cooling used in WA homes

By the type of unit, around half of WA households reported that their main cooling unit was a reverse-cycle air conditioner (49%) and another 35% used evaporative cooling. Almost half of WA households reported that the position of their cooling unit was ducted (45%), a further 28% used a split system. Similar proportions of households with five or more persons had reverse cycle air conditioners (46%) and evaporative cooling (42%). Whereas in smaller households, reverse cycle air conditioners were more common. Most evaporative cooling was ducted through the home (92%). Reverse cycle air conditioners
were more likely to be split systems (52%). Of those WA homes with cooling, almost three-quarters had some type of ceiling insulation. The proportion with ceiling insulation was highest for those homes with ducted cooling (84%).


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. However one person households were more likely than other households to use electric heaters as their main form of heating (20% compared with around 10% for other household sizes) and less likely to use wood (10% compared with around 20% for other household sizes).

In double brick and brick veneer houses, gas heaters were more commonly used as the main type of heating (50% and 42% respectively), whereas in fibro cement houses, wood heaters were more commonly used (46%). Of the estimated 324,000 WA households who reported using gas for their main heater, 79% used a portable unflued gas heater. This accounted for approximately one-third of all WA households with heating (36%). Most of these households used only one portable unflued gas heater (75%) in their homes with a further 22,200 WA households using a portable unflued gas heater as their secondary heater.

Graph: Most common type of main heater used in WA homes


Mains water supply

An estimated 758,500 households in WA (95%) received their domestic water supply from mains or town water. In Perth, 2% of households were not connected to mains water, compared with 15% of households in the Balance of WA.

Rain water tanks

For those households connected to mains water supply in WA, 9% had a rain water tank. The proportion was higher for those living in separate houses (11%) compared with other types of dwellings (3%), and for households in the Balance of WA (24%) compared with Perth households (5%). Of those households that used water from a rain water tank, the most common uses were drinking water (68%), watering the garden (43%) and food preparation (32%).

Bore water

For those WA households connected to mains water supply around one-fifth reported using bore water (22%). A higher proportion of Perth households used bore water (26%) compared with households in the Balance of WA (11%). Less than one-fifth of households that used a bore shared it with other households or properties (16%).

Graph: Additional water sources, by area of usual residence, WA


More than half of WA households had a mains gas hot water system (56%). Electricity was used for water heating by 21% of households and solar heating was used by 15% of households. Electric water heating was more popular in single person households (30%) than in other household types, conversely solar heating was a little less popular (11%). The majority (60%) of WA households used a storage rather than instantaneous hot water system (38%). The proportions for single person households were more evenly distributed with 51% using storage and 46% using instantaneous hot water systems.

Graph: Water heating, by household size, WA


Only the results for Perth households connected to the mains water supply are discussed in this section on water using appliances and facilities.

Washing machines

The majority of all Perth households used a top loading washing machine (71%). Front loading washing machines become more popular as households get larger (ranging from 17% of one person households, to 30% of five or more person households). Almost one-third of households living in flats, units or apartments did not have a washing machine (32%).

Graph: Type of washing machine, by household size, WA


More than one third (38%) of Perth households had a dishwasher. The proportion was higher for households living in a separate house (44%) compared with other dwelling types. The proportion of households with dishwashers also increased with household size, ranging from 19% in one person households to 52% of three or more person households.


More than half (55%) of all Perth households had two or more toilets. In households with three or more persons, the proportion was higher (73%). More than three-quarters (81%) of Perth households used only dual flush toilets. One person households were less likely to use dual flush toilets (74%) than other household sizes.


Almost half (44%) of all Perth households had two or more showers. A higher proportion of water efficient shower heads were used in separate house dwellings (47%) compared with the proportion used in flats, units or apartments (29%). The highest proportion of households that did not use water efficient shower heads were one person households (58%).

Graph: Number of water efficient shower heads used, by household size, WA

Baths and indoor spas

More than half (59%) of Perth households had a bath. The proportion of households with a bath increased with the size of the household, from 43% for one person households to 76% for five or more person households. Less than one in ten (6%) households had an indoor spa.


Watering methods

An estimated 556,100 Perth households had gardens or lawns (92%). Over three-quarters of these households had reticulation systems (77%). More than two-thirds of reticulation systems were automatic electronic systems (68%), while 11% were not automated. For those households with multiple areas to water, the majority of reticulation systems could be set to water different zones, for example garden, lawn or hanging baskets, for different amounts of time or on different days (87%). Sprinklers, drippers or pop-ups were the most common methods used by reticulation systems to water the garden (99%). Other popular watering methods used by all households included using a hand held hose (71%), a watering can or container (42%) and sprinklers (15%).

Water conservation measures

More than two-thirds (68%) of Perth households used mulch in their garden in the twelve months prior to October 2006. Over one-third (36%) of Perth households
reported re-using or recycling water for use in their gardens. This could include using sophisticated recycled water systems, collecting water from running a shower, and pouring leftover water from water bottles and vases onto gardens or lawns.

A small proportion of households in Perth with a garden reported not watering (15%).


An estimated 97,700 Perth households had a swimming pool (16%). Almost one-third (31%) of these swimming pools were in the North metropolitan region, almost one-third (31%) had a pool cover and almost one-quarter (23%) were heated.


In 1992 it became compulsory for all newly constructed residential dwellings in WA to install electrical safety switches (DOCEP 2002). An estimated 500,400 or 62% of WA dwellings were built before 1992.

The majority of these older dwellings had electrical safety switches (70%). For those dwellings that did not have electrical safety switches installed, the most commonly reported reasons were:
  • they had not got around to installing them (27%),
  • the resident was not the home owner or not responsible (24%), and
  • they had never thought about it before (24%).

Government of Western Australia, 2002 Energy Safety: Safety Switches. Department of Consumer and Employment Protection.