Where you use energy


To reduce energy use, you first need to know where it is used in your home - understanding it at a high level or getting right down to specific appliances.

There aren’t any specific studies of energy use in apartments that we’ve been able to find, but those for houses are still a good guide to understand where your energy (and money) are going.

Typical household energy consumption - Nationally

The Residential Energy Baseline Study: Australia, August 2015 gives a national breakdown of average household energy use from all fuel sources (electricity, LPG, natural gas and wood):

Pie chart showing proportions of Total Residential Energy Consumption by End Use in 2014

Total Residential Energy Consumption by End Use in 2014

Space conditioning i.e. heating & cooling is the dominant end-use, followed by water heating and appliances.

Standby power accounts for 6% of average electricity use.

Percentages differ by state/climate and fuel type, as highlighted in the following graph:

Pie chart showing Total Residential Energy Consumption by End Use per State in 2014

Total Residential Energy Consumption by End Use per State in 2014

There are marked differences in the percentages for heating and cooling in different areas of Australia and in some places the average Australian home uses 40% of its energy on heating and cooling.

Typical household electricity consumption - NSW

NSW Trade & Investment has published this chart of annual average electricity use in a typical NSW household.

NSW average annual electricity consumption

Average annual electricity consumption (NSW)

Energy Usage Calculators

Icons for various electrical appliances

Switch On appliance calculator

There are a number of energy usage calculators to help you get a better idea on the impact of individual appliances:

Take your own measurements

There are a number of inexpensive options for you to take exact measurements of the power your appliances use.

Power meters

Example of a power meter
Power meters, also known as energy meters and home energy monitors, show you how much energy your appliances use. They're generally easy to use – plug your meter into a power point, plug your appliance into the meter and it will give you a reading on an LCD screen. You can buy them at most electrical and hardware stores from around $20 upwards.

Energy monitors

Example of an energy monitor
These display and monitor your electricity consumption and costs continuously. They’re attached to your apartment’s fuse box and need to be installed by a licensed electrician. In addition to ongoing monitoring they’re also handy to see the impact of "wired in" devices such as electric stoves, or devices with hard to get at power points such as fridges. This video shows how some energy monitors work.

Save Power kits

Save Power kit
Save Power kits, available to borrow from selected NSW libraries include a Power-Mate Lite so you can see how much energy your appliances are using. The kit also contains special thermometers and a compass to help you measure the optimal temperature for your home, a stop watch you can use to measure water usage, and a guidebook, worksheets and action plan so you can start saving energy straight away. Check the list to see if you can borrow a kit from your local library.

How do you compare to others

Comparisons on your electricity bill

If you live in NSW, SA, TAS, the ACT or QLD, your retailer must show on your bill how much energy your house used, and how much other houses in your area used. This is usually in a graph or table on your bill.

Example household comparison table from an electricity bill

Example household comparison table from an electricity bill

Comparisons with households in your area

You can also use Energy Made Easy’s electricity usage calculator to see if you use more or less energy than other similar households in your area.

Even though the calculator is not specifically targeted at apartment residents and doesn’t recognise some potential unique differences from houses (e.g. your building may have a centralised gas hot water system, but no gas connections to individual apartments) it’s still a good guide. Here an example comparison for a very high-density suburb:

Example household electricity usage comparison (no gas connections) for the 2011 postcode area

Example household electricity usage comparison (no gas connections)

Comparisons with similar households

With Switch On’s household electricity calculator you enter some simple details about your electricity use and your quarterly kWh usage (from your electricity bill) to compare yourself against similar households

Last Updated: 
Wed 10/02/2016

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