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Canberra Residential Energy

and Water Consumption


Baseline Report

Mishka Talent, Patrick Troy, Stephen Dovers

Fenner School of Environment and Society

The Australian National University


Canberra ACT 0200 Australia

June 2013
CRICOS Provider No. 00120C
Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption
Baseline Report

A report to the ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate

Mishka Talent, Patrick Troy, Stephen Dovers


Fenner School of Environment and Society
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200 Australia

June 2013
First published 2014
by the Fenner School of Environment & Society
Building 141, Linnaeus Way
The Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200
Australia

© The Australian National University 2014

Contact details
Professor Steve Dovers
stephen.dovers@anu.edu.au
fennerschool.anu.edu.au

All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Copyright Act 1968 and
subsequent amendments, no part of this publication may be reproduced by any process without
permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN: 978-0-9925555-0-4
ISSN: 1834-108X
CONTENTS
1 Summary ..................................................................................................................................................... 1

2 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................ 2

3 Baseline Sample ......................................................................................................................................... 3


3.1 Data Extraction ................................................................................................................................ 3
3.2 Data Sources................................................................................................................................... 4
3.3 Data Cleaning.................................................................................................................................. 4

4 Background ................................................................................................................................................ 6
4.1 Types of Energy .............................................................................................................................. 6

5 Model Method ............................................................................................................................................. 8


5.1 The Residual ................................................................................................................................. 11

6 Results – WATER ..................................................................................................................................... 12


6.1 Variation in Consumption .............................................................................................................. 12
6.2 Time Series Analysis of Water Consumption ................................................................................ 15
6.3 Climate .......................................................................................................................................... 18
6.4 Dwelling Infrastructure ................................................................................................................... 19
6.5 Wealth of Occupants ..................................................................................................................... 26
6.6 Other Quantifiable Dwelling Characteristics .................................................................................. 27
6.7 Spatial Correlation ......................................................................................................................... 29
6.8 Attitudes ........................................................................................................................................ 29
6.9 Social Determinants of Water Consumption .................................................................................. 29

7 Results – ENERGY ................................................................................................................................... 32


7.1 Variation in Consumption .............................................................................................................. 32
7.2 Time Series - GAS ........................................................................................................................ 32
7.3 Time Series analysis electricity ..................................................................................................... 37
7.4 Dwelling Infrastructure ................................................................................................................... 39
7.5 Dwelling type: case study .............................................................................................................. 43
7.6 Wealth of Occupants ..................................................................................................................... 46
7.7 Other Quantifiable Dwelling Characteristics .................................................................................. 48
7.8 Occupant Attitudes ........................................................................................................................ 50
7.9 Spatial Variability ........................................................................................................................... 50
7.10 Social Determinants of Consumption ............................................................................................ 51

8 Solar Photovoltaic Electrical Generation Systems ............................................................................... 52

9 Solar Orientation: Case study ................................................................................................................. 53

10 References ............................................................................................................................................... 56

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 i


1 SUMMARY
This research was commissioned by the ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate to
investigate the determinants of water and energy consumption in a baseline sample of 25,000 residential
dwellings over the period 2006 – 2011. Quarterly electricity, gas and water consumption data were provided
by ActewAGL as the basis of analysis. The ‘cleaned’ dataset contained electricity consumption data for
29,555 dwellings of which 15,020 also used gas. There was water consumption data for 18,141 blocks.

Overall the study confirms the importance of in-dwelling behaviour in determining consumption.

The major findings on baseline residential water consumption in the ACT were:
 Rainfall was not a determinant of water consumption. Water consumption is highly correlated with
temperature.
 Water consumption was highly variable with some dwellings using 10 times the median.
 The 10 % of dwellings that use the least water consumed 2.7 % of the total.
 The 10 % of dwellings that used the most water consumed 24 % of the total.
 High density dwellings use the same amount of water per capita as low density dwellings.
 Dwellings with an unimproved land value above $700,000 used an additional 170 L per day per
day than dwellings with an unimproved land value below $200,000
 The lowest water consumption per capita was found in high density detached houses, townhouses
and semi-detached houses.
 Water consumption was lower in dwellings built after 2004, indicating that water saving
requirements in new houses have been effective.
 Dwellings in areas with median weekly incomes above $3,000 per week used approximately 100
litres per dwelling per day more than dwellings in areas with incomes below $500 per week.

The major findings on baseline residential electricity and gas consumption in the ACT were:
 Electricity and gas consumption was highly variable with some dwellings using 10 times the
median.
 Lowest total energy consumption was in high density detached houses, townhouses and semi-
detached houses. Very low density houses and very high density apartments used the most per
capita.
 Body corporate energy consumption in high density dwellings was as high as 17 % of the average
dwelling consumption in the development.
 Total energy consumption is lower for dwellings built after 1996.
 Higher income households have higher per capita total energy consumption.
 Dwellings with gas used twice as much energy as those with electricity alone.
 In high density dwellings, solar orientation did not affect energy consumption.
 Solar PV systems produce, on average, 37 % of the energy used in the dwelling.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 1


2 INTRODUCTION
This research was commissioned by the ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate as part
of its continuing commitment to improving the efficiency of urban service provision. The Directorate was
interested in understanding the general domestic consumption of water and energy. The project
commissioned the Fenner School of Environment and Society in 2010 to undertake the work.

The research comprised a random survey of the water, electricity and gas consumption of approximately
25,000 dwellings over the period 2006 - 2011 the analysis of which provided ‘baseline measures’ of
consumption for different kinds of dwellings built in different periods.

Both water and energy consumption per dwelling have continued to fall over the last decade. We did not
find and would not expect the fall to be dramatic, but that it would be a consequence of continuing facilities
upgrades especially in newer and recently renovated dwellings. It is also a consequence, in part, of public
education by the ACT government on the need for more efficient use of water and energy. Particular
campaigns included the need to change gardening practices to make better use of water resources, building
insulation to reduce heat loss, and increases in electrical appliance efficiency.

The ambition was to extract the water, electricity and gas consumption measures from the systems used to
record consumption for each dwelling in selected collector districts. This was seen as feasible because the
consumption of water, electricity and gas for each property was read quarterly, recorded on the same day
and was in a form that allowed interrogation of the record using modern data processing techniques.

The unit of analysis was at the block level. There is generally only one water meter per block and one
electricity and gas meter per dwelling. Consumption of water, electricity and gas is collected as quarterly
bills. Billing intervals were irregular and varied between 1 month and 1 year although were generally
between 85 and 95 days. Electricity and gas consumption were combined so total energy consumption
between dwellings could be compared. The method used to combine these different types of energy is
discussed in more detail in Section 4.1. Hereafter, “energy” refers to the total electricity and gas
consumption measured at the dwelling level.

Mesh block Census population data was used to calculate consumption per capita where appropriate. Other
socio-demographic characteristics are released only at the Level 1 Statistical Area (SA1) and were used as
possible explanatory variables in understanding water and energy consumption.

2 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


3 BASELINE SAMPLE
The construction of the baseline sample meant that in a number of cases dwellings were in both ‘samples’
i.e. some dwellings that had been the subject of an efficiency initiative were also included in the random
baseline sample. A sample size of 25,000 dwellings was chosen as it allowed for a statistically robust
analysis of classes of buildings based on the age of the development. The sample consists of 25,000
dwellings randomly selected from 8 strata: suburbs built 1900-1954, 1955-1974, 1975-1990 and 1991-2012,
both north and south of the city centre.

3.1 Data Extraction


A consolidated list of addresses was provided to the ACT Government Environment and Planning
Directorate so that the appropriate record of water, electricity and gas consumption could be ‘attached’ to
each listed address by the appropriate water and energy supply authorities and by other administrative units
of government. In this way the record of water, electricity and gas consumption for each selected property
over the period 2005 to 2012 was recorded. Using the same list of addresses additional data for each
property was assembled from other records including age of development, area of the block, area of the
building ‘footprint’ and unimproved land value of the block.

At all stages in the assembly of data the identity of property owners or occupants was held by the relevant
agency but not made available to the researchers to preserve the confidentiality of individual consumers.
Dwelling identifiers were retained in the dataset as there were multiple advantages in doing so. While no
personally identifiable information was passed to researchers, the dataset maintained the block level
identifiers. This allows enhancement of the dataset by a) permitting linking to other datasets for analysis, b)
allowing future aggregation in different ways and c) facilitating longitudinal analysis because ‘cleaned’ data
can be stored and later updated with additional consumption data for the same dwellings.

The list of addresses provided an opportunity for the researchers to use Google Earth to visually ‘check’ or
‘ground proof’ the kinds of development for which consumption data was available. Almost 10 % of the
dwellings in the original dataset were identified as non-residential and removed. Such identification was
only possible because block-level identifiers remained in the dataset. Abnormal consumption values may
occur in other studies where non-residential dwellings cannot be identified, for example, in Lee et al. (2008).

The Office of the Chief Minister had commissioned an earlier study of water consumption for a sample of
Canberra households. The report of that study (Troy et. al. 2006) provided an opportunity to explore the
extent to which domestic water consumption had changed over the succeeding period.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 3


3.2 Data Sources
This project relied on data sourced from four organisations listed in Table 1.

Table 1 Data sources used in the analysis of water and energy consumption in Canberra

Organisation/Department Dataset
Department of the  ACT Cadastre
Environment Climate  Building Footprints
Change Energy and Water  Unimproved Land Values per block over time
ACTEW  Full database record of water consumption for each water
meter
 Full database record of electricity consumption for each
electricity meter
 Full database record of gas consumption for each gas meter
Callpoint Spatial  ACT Geocoded National Address File (GNAF)
Australian Bureau of  Spatial data of statistical boundaries
Statistics (ABS)  2006 and 2011 National Census Data at collector district
(CD and SA1) and mesh block level.

Satellite imagery and front of house photography from Google Earth and Google Street View was used to
verify dwelling types, identify commercial dwellings and for manual validation of dwelling addresses from
the data and from Geocoded National Address File (GNAF).

3.3 Data Cleaning


The original baseline sample of 37,654 dwellings (Table 2) was reduced by removing non-residential
dwellings or those where electricity generation (solar PV) and consumption values could not be
differentiated. Individual billing records with zero or negative water consumption values were also removed
(Table 3). This left a “cleaned” dataset of dwellings used for analysis.

Table 2 Summary of Data Sample sizes during the 'cleaning' process

Description Number of
Unique
Dwellings
ANU request Total 59,781
ANU request Baseline 37,654
Address could not be matched by ACTEW for baseline dataset 5,993
Non-residential dwellings in Baseline removed 2,025
Could not differentiate Solar Generation from Electricity Consumption 61
Missing Unimproved Land Value 305
Missing Building Footprint Data 12,317
Missing Water Consumption Values 2,381
Energy Sample Size for GAM Analysis 12,579
Water Sample Size for GAM Analysis 10,718

4 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Table 3 shows an overview of steps in the electricity consumption data cleaning process and the resulting
number of rows in the dataset. The original raw baseline dataset contained 1,006,155 rows. After cleaning
there were 604,981 rows. Solar generation values were removed from 1,382 dwellings (consumption values
were retained). The remaining baseline data set contained electricity consumption data for 29,555 dwellings
of which 15,020 also used gas. There was water consumption data for 18,141 blocks.

Dwellings with missing values for any variable were ignored in the modelling process. Thus, for any
modelling where the building footprint area was used as an explanatory variable, the sample size was
reduced to 12,579 for analysis of energy consumption, and 10,718 for analysis of water consumption. For
modelling that did not require building footprint area as a variable of analysis, such as for the time-series
analysis, the dataset contained 29,555 dwellings for energy analysis and 18,141 blocks for water analysis.
The smaller number of blocks in the water dataset results primarily from multi-developments having only
one water meter per block but an electricity and gas meter for every dwelling. No statistical difference was
found between using the reduced sample size and using the full dataset for those variables without missing
data.

Table 3 Overview of steps taking to clean electricity data resulting number of rows after each cleaning stage

Total Number of
Description Rows in data set
Electricity only dataset 1,006,155
Negative and corresponding positive values removed 975,149
Zero consumption values removed 911,263
Semi-duplicates removed (duplicated on some but not all rows) 876,951
Houses with unidentifiable solar transactions removed 861,530
Solar generation values removed 806,624
Combine consumption for bills with same billing start dates 606,628
Combine consumption for bills with same billing end dates 604,981

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 5


4 BACKGROUND
For some analyses electricity and gas consumption were considered separately, for example, to understand
how consumption of these different forms of energy had changed over time. These two different types of
energy, however, were combined to answer questions about the determinants of total energy consumption.
For all analyses except the time-series analysis, electrical and gas energy are combined to give total energy
consumption for each dwelling. These are presented in the same units; kilowatt hours equivalent (kWhe).

4.1 Types of Energy


Electrical and gas energy are measured at the point of connection to the dwelling. They can be combined
using their billed calorific values alone. But there are variations in the ways these fuels can be used and in
the efficiency of the appliances that use them. This results in large differences in perceived benefits from
the equivalent billed calorific values of energy. A more refined analysis of the determinants of energy
consumption would require knowledge of the way the energy was used within a dwelling. In the absence of
such data, a brief overview is presented below with some examples to explain the context of the modelling
results.

A resistive electric space heater, for example, is 100% efficient; all electrical energy is converted into heat
in the room. A commonly installed ducted gas heating system, however, is likely to be only 80% efficient
(U.S. Department of Energy, 2004). Thus, one unit of gas energy cannot be used to achieve the same level
of thermal comfort in a dwelling as an equivalent unit of electrical energy. Using electric resistive heaters it
is easier to heat only the occupied room, whereas commonly installed ducted gas space heaters warm a
large portion of the house, and often the whole house.

A heat pump for space heating requires only one unit of electrical energy for approximately four units of
heating energy (known as a coefficient of performance of 4, or 400 % efficient for comparison to the heaters
above, see for example, The Canadian Renewable Energy Network, 2009). Thus, electrical energy used
in a heat pump can generate space heating5 times (4/0.8) more efficiently than gas burnt in a gas space
heater. Similar efficiency differences occur in water heating depending on the fuel source. Furthermore,
electricity and solar hot water can be generated onsite thereby potentially reducing the apparent billed
energy consumption in some dwellings, whereas natural gas cannot be generated onsite.

The inappropriateness of comparing fuel types on delivered billed energy consumption alone is highlighted
when comparing carbon dioxide emissions that result from using different fuel sources. The burning of
natural gas emits 51.2 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) per gigajoule (GJ) while electricity sourced from the NSW
grid has an average emission of 294 kg of carbon dioxide per GJ (Department of Climate Change and
Energy Efficiency 2012).

Table 4 compares the energy requirement and CO2 emissions from 5 scenarios of energy use and fuel type
which provide one equivalent unit of space heating for a house. In the 5 scenarios, for a given comfort level
of the occupant, CO2emissions vary between 59 kg and 294 kg based on the fuel type, appliance efficiency
(space heater) and behaviour.

In this report, a conversion factor of 0.8 for converting from gas equivalent units to electrical equivalent units
is used. This is because in Canberra, the main use of gas is for space heating and hot water which are
approximately 80 % efficient. This implies that all other electrical space and water heating was by resistive
heaters and that heat pumps are not used.

6 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Table 4 Five possible scenarios of energy consumption and CO2 emissions
for a similar comfort level of the occupant

Description Energy Efficiency Unit of Energy Emissions Total CO2


Type measure per GJ Factor (kg emissions
CO2e/unit) (kg)
Heating via inefficient gas burner
centrally ducted around the house Gas 60 % GJ 1.00 51.3 86

Heating via new efficient gas burner


centrally ducted around the house Gas 75 % GJ 1.00 51.3 68

Heating via resistive column


heaters in every room in house Electricity 100 % kWh 277.78 1.06 294

Heating via resistive column


heaters in one occupied room Electricity 100 % kWh 277.78 1.06 59
(20% of house)

Heating via heat pump centrally


ducted around the house Electricity 400 % * kWh 277.78 1.06 74

*Average coefficient of performance of 4.0

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 7


5 MODEL METHOD
The purpose of the initial data exploration was to identify non-residential properties and to investigate the
large number of dwellings with very high consumption. Various methods were explored of defining
explanatory variables of consumption and of testing the efficacy of those variables. For example, the type
of building was measured by a) cadastral descriptors, b) building density based on 2006 and 2011 census
data, c) building density based on addresses in the cadastre, d) building density based on GNAF using
address confidence intervals 0-2, and e) water meter density based on the number of water meters
compared with the number of known dwellings from mesh block data. Many such measures were found to
inaccurately measure the determinant of interest and were ignored for this report.

Each explanatory variable was compared with consumption visually and through linear regression as a
method of identifying trends that may exist. However, it was apparent through visual inspection of the plotted
data that there were non-linear relationships between water and energy consumption and the explanatory
variables. For this reason the analysis was initiated using non-linear and non-parametric curves to model
the effects of each determinant on water consumption.

A Generalised Additive Model (GAM) was used to estimate the influence of various non-parametric
determinants (factors) on consumption. An additive model is a non-parametric regression method where
one dimensional smoothing curves (functions) are used to show the relationship between the outcome
variable (water or energy consumption) and each determinant (e.g. house size). Each function in the model
had between 1 and 9 degrees of freedom referring to a straight line and a polynomial of order 9 respectively.
For comparison, in a multi-level linear regression, all predictors have only 1 degree of freedom (they are all
straight lines). Linear regression models were not used to ‘explain’ consumption because it was found, by
visual inspection, that some of the determinants of consumption could best be explained by non-linear
models. Estimation of the statistical assumptions of normality, heterogeneity and absence of auto-
correlation in the data required for a linear regression were not fulfilled in the dataset.

A Generalised Additive Mixed Effects Model (GAMM) was also used to incorporate the changes over time,
however, for simplicity of explanation, two separate GAM models were used; a) a GAM to model the
determinants of consumption using the mean consumption of each dwelling over the whole study period
and b) a GAM to model the seasonal and long term trends in consumption. This enabled the questions
“what are the significant determinants to consumption for each dwelling?” and “what are the seasonal and
temporal changes in consumption?” to be answered. A GAMM would enable one to see how those
determinants had themselves changed over time, however the dataset currently consists of one census
collection year and no information in physical changes at each dwelling (e.g. area of garden or dwelling
size) is available as it changed over time.

One disadvantage of most modelling techniques, including a GAM, is that they cannot be run on dwellings
in which there are missing values. Building footprint data (used for percentage built and non-built area
determinants) was missing for 66 % of blocks. One can either chose to remove all blocks that have missing
data, or to estimate the missing data based on neighbouring blocks (known as spatial interpolation). To use
spatial interpolation, one must be sure that such a spatial relationship exists, but no such spatial relationship
was found (see Section 6.7). Instead, two GAMs were built, one for the whole dataset (18,304 dwellings)
and one for the subset for which building footprint data was available (6,159 dwellings). No statistical
difference was found between the two models and therefore the results for the model containing only the
dwellings with building footprint data (6,159 dwellings) are presented.

8 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


A GAM also requires that all explanatory variables are independent of each other and not simply multiple
measures of the same variable. The extent to which all explanatory variables were correlated to each other
(multicollinearity) was tested, removing all highly correlated variables.

The residuals are what remain if the modelled values (those of best fit) are subtracted from the measured
values. The residuals are shown in most figures of determinants of consumption as small points, one for
each dwelling or block in the dataset, depending on the variable of interest. A perfectly fitted model will have
no residuals but will also provide no simplification to allow understanding of the dataset. Modelling combines
the opposing tasks of minimising the variation in the residuals (variance) while simplifying the data into an
understandable form. Further simplification of the GAMs could be made if a predictive model is required
rather than the explanatory model presented here.

It is possible to spatially interpolate census data between 2006 and 2011 (as Census suggest). However,
there is no good reason to do so because this would not improve the capacity to understand changes in
consumption and would not alter the relationship between census data statistics and water or energy
consumption. The only effect would be to narrow the confidence bounds leading to over estimation of the
statistical significance of results.

It is evident that there is a high level of variance in the consumption data but it is not appropriate to apply a
transformation (e.g. log transform) to the data because the output statistics could then only be interpreted,
for example, in a logged form and could not easily be translated back into the original units of measure;
litres of water or kilowatt hours of electricity.

Water data was only collected at the property block level, and is therefore reported at this level of detail. It
was assumed that all the flats in a block of flats have similar socio-economic characteristics. Where data is
presented at the per capita level, the mean number of people per dwelling based on the national census
mesh block in which that dwelling is located was used.

The GAMs employed for analysis of water and energy consumption were:

ConsumptionWater𝑖
= α + 𝑓𝑖 (𝑁𝑢𝑚𝑏𝑒𝑟 𝑂𝑐𝑐𝑢𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑠) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐿𝑎𝑡, 𝐿𝑜𝑛𝑔) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐵𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑡 𝐷𝑎𝑡𝑒) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐿𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑉𝑎𝑙𝑢𝑒)
+ 𝑓𝑖 (𝐼𝑛𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐵𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝐷𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦) + 𝑓𝑖 (% 𝑅𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠) + 𝑓𝑖 (% 𝑀𝑎𝑙𝑒)
+ 𝑓𝑖 (𝑚𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑛 𝑜𝑐𝑐𝑢𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑔𝑒) + (𝑠𝑜𝑙𝑎𝑟) + (𝑔𝑎𝑠 𝑡𝑦𝑝𝑒)

Consumptionenergy𝑖
= α + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐷𝑤𝑒𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝐴𝑟𝑒𝑎) + (𝑠𝑜𝑙𝑎𝑟) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐿𝑎𝑡, 𝐿𝑜𝑛𝑔) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐵𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑡 𝐷𝑎𝑡𝑒) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐿𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑉𝑎𝑙𝑢𝑒)
+ 𝑓𝑖 (𝑁𝑢𝑚𝑏𝑒𝑟 𝑂𝑐𝑐𝑢𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑠) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝐼𝑛𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝑃𝑜𝑝𝑢𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝐷𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦) + 𝑓𝑖 (% 𝑅𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠)
+ (𝑔𝑎𝑠 𝑡𝑦𝑝𝑒) + 𝑓𝑖 (𝑜𝑐𝑐𝑢𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑔𝑒)

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 9


Where:
 α is the is intercept for the whole sample
 fi indicates a smoothing function (thin-plate smoother) for each block,
 Number Occupants is the number of occupants per dwelling based on mesh block level census
data.
 Dwelling Area is the block area of each dwelling. For blocks with multiple dwellings, the block area
is apportioned equally to all dwellings on that block.
 Suburb is the suburb in which that block is located.
 Lat, Long is the latitude and longitude of the centroid of each block.
 Land Value is the unimproved land value in $ per block pro-rated to each dwelling on that block.
 Income is the median weekly household income at the SA1 census level in 2011.
 Population Density is the number of people per block area, measured in people per square
kilometres.
 % Renters is the percentage of renters for the SA1 in which that block is located.
 Median occupant age is the median age of residents for the SA1 in which that block is located.
 % male is the percentage of males for the SA1 in which that block is located.
 Built Date is the date of original development for dwellings built after 1979 or the original
development date of the suburb for dwellings built developed before 1979.
 Solar indicates whether a dwelling has solar (PV) panels.
 Gas type indicates whether a dwelling had a) no gas connected, b) gas for hot water and/or
cooking, c) gas for space heating alone or d) gas for space heating and hot water and/or cooking.

All graphs derived from these two models have the same vertical axis dimensions so that the marginal effect
size of each determinant can easily be compared with the effect size of other determinants. The dimension
chosen allows easy identification of the trends in the modelled curves and confidence bands and only a
small number of residual points are not shown where they extend beyond the limits of the graph. For water,
the y-axis extends from -1000 to 3000 litres per dwelling per day, while for energy it extends from -40 to 40
kilowatt hours per day.

The ‘intercept’ is the consumption when all explanatory determinants are zero. Each modelled explanatory
determinant then adds to or subtracts from this value. The marginal effects of each of the explanatory
variables on this ‘intercept’ value are presented throughout the report. The ‘intercept’ value was found to be
22.6 kWh per dwelling per day without the addition or subtraction of the explanatory determinants of energy
consumption. The ‘intercept’ for water consumption was 403 litres per dwelling per day. Negative marginal
effect values indicate that consumption is less than the ‘intercept’ value while positive marginal effect values
indicate that the consumption is in addition to the ‘intercept’ value.

10 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


5.1 The Residual
The GAM employed was able to explain 39.6 % of the variance in water consumption. Without limiting the
degrees of freedom of any variable, the explained variance could be increased to 42.1 % but this increased
the complexity of the splines and made interpretation more difficult.

The model could be further improved with the same data to 45.1 % by specifying an inverse Gamma function
rather than a Gaussian distribution of the consumption. However, the results presented are from the GAM
assuming a Gaussian distribution because it a) makes only a minor difference in predictive power of the
model, b) does not change the relative importance of the explanatory variables, and c) allows for easy
interpretation of the results because the model statistics are in the same units as the outcome variable
(kilowatt hours and litres).

The GAM employed was able to explain 57.7 % of the variance in energy consumption. As with water
consumption, the model could be improved to explain 58.9 % but the results are harder to interpret.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 11


6 RESULTS – WATER
6.1 Variation in Consumption
Following ‘cleaning’ of the data, the distribution of water consumption for all the properties in the baseline
sample (Figure 6-1) showed some properties with very high consumption. The histogram in Figure 6-1
shows dwelling consumption for all records in the baseline dataset. For this baseline dataset, the mean
dwelling consumption was 485 litres per day, the median was 411 litres per day and the maximum was
12,769 litres per day. Because water consumption was not normally distributed but highly positively skewed,
it is more appropriate to report the median value, and the median absolute deviation as the static of
variance, than the average and standard deviation. The median dwelling consumption was 411 litres per
day and the median absolute deviation was 228 litres per day. There were 99 dwellings that consumed
more than 5 times the median over the study period. The mean per capita consumption was 215 litres per
day, similar to the 189 litres per capita per day reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012.

Not only is there high variability in average consumption between different dwellings over the study period
(2006 to 2012), but some dwellings also had very high variability in consumption between billing periods.
Figure 6-2 shows the variability in a high consumption residential dwelling. Line (a) is the median
consumption of this user (1668.6 litres per person per day) and line (b) is the median of the sample (411
litres per person per day)

Figure 6-1 Distribution of water consumption per dwelling in the sample

12 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Figure 6-2 Variation in a ‘high consumption’ dwelling over the study period 2007-2012

As an example, even at the aggregated apartment level there is still a high degree of variability. Figure
6-3shows the average consumption per person per day for 6 water meters covering 8 apartment blocks.
The resident populations of each apartment block are shown in Table 5. The range in yearly water
consumption for each of the 6 water meters is shown in the box plots in Figure 6-2. The box plots show the
median and quartile range in consumption for each of the blocks. Consumption values were obtained from
all quarterly water bills between 2006 and 2012. The blocks are physically similar, all located in the same
street and are of a similar age.

Apartment Population
Block
Number
A1 98
A2 86
A3 65
A4 94
A5 37
A6 29

Table 5 Number of occupants of each of 8 apartment block grouped


into the 6 water meters that service them.

The apparent variation in dwelling consumption is reduced when the data is aggregated. Nonetheless, even
when consumption of 30-100 people in an apartment block is aggregated, some apartment blocks use three
times as much water per person as others.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 13


Figure 6-3 Average per capita water consumption for different
apartment blocks of 30-100 people each

Some dwellings, and possibly some individuals within those dwellings, use much higher volumes of water
than others. Water is not used equally amongst dwellings in the community. The 10% of dwellings that use
the least water consumed 2.7 % of the total water while the 10% of dwellings that used the most water
consumed 24 % of the total water. Figure 6-4 shows the percentage of consumption for each 10th percentile
of consumers.

Figure 6-4 Percentage of total consumption for each 10th percentile of consumers

14 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


The Lorenz or Gini curve in Figure 6-5also shows the same information but on a continuous curve. The
horizontal axis shows the percentage of the population while the vertical axis shows the percentage of
consumption. The straight diagonal reference line represents equality in water consumption. The proportion
of water used by any portion of the population can be determined visually by finding the point on the Lorenz
curve where lines from the horizontal and vertical axes meet.

Figure 6-5Lorenz Curve of equality in water


consumption. The straight diagonal line indicates
perfect equality in consumption.

6.2 Time Series Analysis of Water Consumption


Variation in water consumption over the sample period from September 2007 to July 2012 was analysed.
The first year of the dataset (2006) was excluded because records for some of the dwellings in the sample
were incomplete over this period. Figure 6-6 shows how water consumption varied from September 2007
to July 2012. The daily mean water consumption of all dwellings is shown. The high peaks in consumption
correspond with summer. Note that the vertical axis in Figure 6-6 does not extend down to zero
consumption.

A generalised additive model (GAM) was combined with a linear regression to differentiate the seasonal
and long term trends in consumption. Quarterly bill data was disaggregated into consumption on a daily
basis and then summed across the whole sample. These total daily consumption values were divided evenly
among the dwellings to give consumption values per dwelling. The GAM gives a mean dwelling
consumption of 1,086 litres per dwelling per day without adjustment for seasonal and yearly trends. The
marginal effect of season and long term trend is shown below in section 6.2.1 and 6.2.2 respectively.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 15


Figure 6-6 Average variation in per dwelling water consumption over the sample period.

6.2.1 Seasonal Variation


From Figure 6-6 it is evident that there is a seasonal cycle to water consumption. There was a significant
increase in consumption during summer. The peak in January 2008, for example, was 25 % higher than
the lowest level of consumption in June 2008.

Without presuming what environmental conditions or human behaviour may lead to this seasonality, the
variation in consumption was modelled by a cyclical repeating curve of best fit. Technically, this curve is
known as a “cyclic cubic regression spline”. The marginal effect of this spline of best fit is shown by the
thick line in Figure 6-7. The dashed line shows the 95% confidence bounds. The remaining unexplained
portion of the data is shown as residuals in the figure (small point data).

More water is used in summer than in winter. A modelled dwelling will use approximately 120 L more water
per day in summer and 120 L less per day in winter than the average (Figure 6-7 where zero on the y-axis
represents the modelled average water consumption). This simple seasonal model accounts for 64.8 % of
the variation in water consumption over the study period. This repeating cyclical model was plotted over the
original data in Figure 6-8. In years 2008, 2011 and 2012, this simple model over-estimates water
consumption, while in 2009 and 2010 it under-estimates consumption during summer.

16 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Figure 6-7 Marginal effect of season on average water consumption.
Trend line (thick black line), 95% confidence bounds (dashed line)
and residuals shown.

Figure 6-8 Average dwelling water consumption from August 2007 to September
2012. The dashed line is a cyclic cubic regression spline of best fit.

6.2.2 Yearly Variation


The residuals remaining after the seasonal (modelled) component of consumption is removed are shown
in Figure 6-9. These can be used to explain the yearly trends in water consumption.

A linear regression line of best fit was used to estimate the long-term trend in these residuals. This is shown
as the dashed line in Figure 6-9. The slope represents a reduction in average water consumption per
dwelling of 9.1 litres per dwelling per year from September 2007 to July 2012.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 17


In the residuals in Figure 6-9 it is evident that there remains a yearly pattern that was not explained by the
model described in Section 6.2.1. This is because this simple model was based on the day of the year
rather than some environmental or behavioural factor. Environmental factors such as maximum daily
temperature or net evaporation could be used to improve the explanatory power of the model. Government
policies such as water restrictions or water efficiency measures may also have led to consumption variation
in different years.

Figure 6-9 Residual unexplained variation in daily dwelling water


consumption and linear regression line of best fit (dashed line).

6.3 Climate
Selected climatic variables were used to investigate which single climatic variables were the best
determinants of water consumption. The combination of variables or interactions between them was not
explored.

Each day in each water billing period for every dwelling was matched to the corresponding climatic variables
on that day. Daily water consumption was calculated from quarterly bills. Either the summed value (e.g. for
rainfall) or the mean value (e.g. for temperature) was calculated for each climatic variable during each billing
period. A simple linear regression was applied to all climatic predictors against the estimated daily water
consumption for each bill. The day of year (1-365) was modelled separately using a cyclic cubic regression
spline as before for comparison.

Although rainfall is often plotted on graphs showing residential water consumption (Lee et al. 2008 page
20) both the mean monthly rainfall and total rainfall during the billing period were the worst predictors of
water consumption (Table 6). Mean monthly maximum and minimum temperature, mean monthly
evaporation and day-of-year were all good predictors of water consumption.

The R-squared value for Mean Monthly Minimum Daily Temperature can be improved slightly from 78.2 %
to 80.1 % by using a 2 order polynomial rather than a linear regression. Increasing the complexity of the
model only made a minor improvement in explanatory power of the model and was therefore not pursued
further.

18 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Table 6 Climatic variable and R-squared value used to explain seasonal variation in water consumption

R-squared
Variable (%)
Rainfall (mm) 0.1
Mean Monthly Rainfall (mm) 0.2
Net Evaporation (mm) 12.8
Sunshine hours 13.9
Relative Humidity, 3 pm 15.0
Relative Humidity, 9 am 18.1
Mean Monthly Sunshine hours 49.0
Evaporation (mm) 50.3
Temperature, 3 pm 54.7
Temperature, 9 am 56.0
Maximum Daily Temperature 58.2
Mean Monthly Net Evaporation (mm) 64.5
Day-of-Year 74.6
Mean Monthly Evaporation 74.8
Mean Monthly Maximum Daily
Temperature 77.4
Mean Monthly Minimum Daily
Temperature 78.2

6.4 Dwelling Infrastructure


Detailed data on dwelling occupancy can only be achieved through detailed surveys matched to identified
dwelling records, an approach not possible here. National Census data, collected at the household level
but only released in aggregated form, was used as the basis of analysis. For the 2006 Census and earlier,
the smallest aggregation was a Collector District (CD) of approximately 200 dwellings. Person counts,
median and means of various census statistics are provided at this level of aggregation. The 2011 national
Census provides a new aggregation called Statistical Area 1 (SA1) which is similar in size to CDs but not
identical to CDs in previous years. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggests using linear spatial
interpolation where there are spatial differences in boundaries between census years, however, only 2011
Census data was used in the analysis. Census data at the SA1 level of detail was used to estimate median
household weekly income, percentage of renters and the percentage of semi-detached houses and flats in
areas in which water and energy consumption data was available.

Mesh blocks were introduced into the 2006 census to provide a finer level of detail (typically 20-60
dwellings). At the mesh block level only population counts, dwelling counts and mesh block type (residential,
rural, natural etc.) are released. In this study, mesh block populations ranged from 12 to 328 people (median
98) and number of dwellings per mesh block ranged from 3 to 178 (median 40). There were six mesh blocks
with more than 100 dwellings. These correspond to high density dwelling types usually of only a small
number of separate buildings (see discussion below). It is important to note that dwellings in mesh block
boundaries are selected by hand such that each mesh block is constructed of only ‘similar’ dwelling types.
Apartment blocks are not split into multiple mesh blocks. For the purposes of this report, number of
occupants per dwelling is taken as the pro-rated total population per dwelling in each mesh block.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 19


6.4.1 Dwelling type
The hypothesis that dwelling type is a determinant in dwelling water consumption was investigated. The
2011 census data provide counts for the number of flats, semi-detached and houses in each SA1. Each of
these building types was converted to a percentage of the total dwellings in that SA1 and used as an
explanatory variable in the GAM. The percentage of houses was not used in the model because it is highly
correlated with the percentage of flats and semi-detached dwellings in that area. That is, the percentage of
each of these types of dwellings sum to 100 so the same effect of dwelling type would be measured in the
model if all three were included. Furthermore, a GAM requires low correlation between explanatory
variables for meaningful results. There was no evidence that the percentage of houses that were semi-
detached or flats in a collector district was a determinant of water consumption.

6.4.2 Building/Population Density


Typical building density has changed in Canberra from ‘quarter acre’ house blocks to smaller allotments,
and there is now also a higher proportion of strata title blocks and multi-unit developments of varying
density. The possibility that the type of development and the density of developments have an effect on
water consumption per dwelling was explored. The building density was defined as the number of dwellings
per block as measured by the number of unique addresses in the G-NAF (Geographic National Address
File) with an address confidence of 1 or larger. This value was also compared with the number of dwellings
estimated from Census mesh block data and the number of ActewAGL electricity bills per block, and
manually adjusted where necessary.

Within the cadastral data, the type of development was known for 6,159 blocks. A first approach at
investigating the differences in water consumption for different building types was to consider differences
in consumption in these development types. Each building type was reclassified into a) High Density
Footprint b) Low Density Footprint and c) Unknown Footprint.

Table 7 shows the building type designations in the cadastre, the number of each type of building in the
sample and the building density classification assigned to it.

There was very little difference in total consumption between the high density buildings and low density
buildings (Figure 6-10). However, the median consumption for low density buildings was slightly lower than
for high density buildings. Note that the maximum consumed in the ‘high density footprint’ is much lower
than the maximum consumed in the ‘low density footprint’ (maximum outlier values are not shown for
clarity). This indicates that while building density type has almost no effect on median water consumption,
higher density buildings do reduce the maximum possible water consumption in each dwelling. This may
indicate a practical limit in water consumption for dwellings without a garden.

20 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Table 7 Dwelling type as defined in the footprint data

Figure 6-10 Extent of water consumption for High, Low and


Unknown Building Footprint types per capita

The effect of density on water consumption can be analysed in more detail at the individual block level.
Figure 6-11 shows the number of dwellings per block for every block in the sample. The x-axis is on a log
scale so that we can show the very high density buildings as well as the blocks with only a single dwelling.
The red horizontal line is the median per capita consumption for the whole sample.

For higher density blocks, water consumption per capita approaches the mean. This is expected because
high density developments have only 1 water meter, so on a per capita basis their consumption should
approach the mean unless we expect a difference in water consumption simply because the occupants are
living in higher density developments.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 21


Figure 6-11 Per capita water consumption as a function of the number
of dwellings per block.

Different types of buildings such as flats, units, houses, and semi-detached were not differentiated as the
categorisation is unhelpful. By inspection dwellings traditionally classified as units were found to include
both 15 storey buildings housing approximately 200 people to dwellings that looked similar to houses but
had strata titles. For this reason, the number of people per block (measured in people per square kilometre)
was found to be the best measure of building density as it most accurately differentiated dwellings types as
intuitively expected.

Building density, block size and garden size are necessarily highly correlated to each other and therefore
any result showing an effect on water consumption from one of these variables as a determinant of
consumption is actually showing the combined effect of all three variables. That is, it is not possible to
disaggregate the effect on water consumption from each of these three variables because of their
multicollinearity.

Water consumption in low density dwellings is higher than in high density dwellings. But, water consumption
does not continue to decrease in dwellings with equivalent dwelling density above 8,000 people per square
kilometre. Instead, Figure 6-12 shows a slight increase in water consumption for dwellings with an
equivalent density of more than 8,000.

Dwellings with an equivalent density of more than 8,000 people per square kilometre have negligible garden
areas whereas those dwellings with an equivalent density of less than 5,000 people per square may have
a considerable garden area. Dwellings with lower density are larger and may contain more water consuming
appliances. Thus, while Figure 6-12 shows the effect of dwelling density on water consumption, it also
incorporates any additional water that is consumed in gardens and swimming pools (low density dwellings)
as well as the effect of large dwellings with more water consuming appliances (also low density dwellings).

22 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Figure 6-12 Water consumption as function of the number of dwellings per block. Trend line
(thick black line), 95% confidence bounds (dashed line) and residuals shown.

A combination of larger dwellings and larger gardens in low density dwellings may lead to the false
assumption that water consumption is higher in low density dwellings, or conversely that water consumption
is lower in higher density dwellings. As previously shown, this is not the case. Further research should
investigate the relationships between garden size, block area and density and how water consumption
varies as a function of these three measures.

6.4.3 Age of Development


The year in which a block was first ascribed an unimproved land value was used as the year of development.
The unimproved land value (ULV) dataset extends from to 1979 to 2010. Figure 6-13shows number of
developments in each year from 1980 to 2010. ULVs were not defined in years 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984,
1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and so all developments in those periods will appear in the following year for which
an ULV was recorded. There were ~265 block developments per year from 1980 to 2010 in the sample.

Figure 6-13 Number of blocks developed for each year 1979 to 2010

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 23


Figure 6-15 and Figure 6-14 (below) shows box plots of water consumption in 2011 for developments built
in each year between 1979 and 2010. The upper and lower ends of each box in each year represent the 1st
and 3rd quartile of consumption of dwellings built in that year. The dark centre line in each box is the median
water consumption per dwelling (litres) for dwellings built in that year. The ‘whiskers’ extending above and
below the box are 1.5 times the height of the box (1.5* inter quartile range (IRQ)). Outliers are those
dwellings that exceed 1.5*IRQ. These are not shown on the graph as there are some dwelling that have
much higher (>10 times the median) water consumption in each year.

There is a noticeable decline in the consumption for buildings built after 2003 on a per dwelling basis (Figure
6-15). However, when adjusted for the number of occupants in each dwelling (based on census SA1 data)
the decline is considerably less pronounced (Figure 6-14).

Figure 6-15 Extent of water consumption per capita as a Figure 6-14 Extent of water consumption per
function dwelling built date. dwelling as a function dwelling built date.

Blocks built prior to 1979 were assumed to be constructed in the year that the suburb in which they were
located was built. This underestimated the construction date for dwellings built prior to 1979 as often
suburbs took many years to be fully developed.

When building development date is measured as a determinant of water consumption within the generalised
additive model (GAM) it was found that it was statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (p-value 8
x10-12). Water consumption increased steadily for dwellings built up to 1995. Newer dwellings built after
2004 were found to consume less water (Figure 6-16).

24 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Figure 6-16 Water consumption as function of the block development date. Trend line
(thick line), 95% confidence bounds (shaded area) and residuals shown.

6.4.4 Size of Development (block area)


The effective block area of each dwelling was investigated as a determinant of water consumption. The list
of addresses in GNAF was used to identify the number of dwellings per block. Unapproved dwellings that
do not have a separate letterbox or where the occupant does not register it as a separate address on the
electoral role are not included. The total area of each block was divided among all dwellings on that block.
Only the footprint area of each block was used as the area of measurement so for multiple level buildings
this area will be less than the total floor area of all dwellings.

The block area per dwelling was found to be positively correlated with water consumption. Because the
measure of block area is also a measure of garden area and dwelling density (highly correlated variables),
this determinant of water consumption was removed from later revisions of the GAM models. The effect of
block area is included in the measure of building density (section 6.4.2).

6.4.5 Non-Built Area (garden area)


The non-built area was calculated for those blocks for which there was a building footprint in the cadastre.
Of the sample of 18,304, the built (footprint) area was only known for 6,168 blocks (33.6%). Visual
inspection reveals that the built areas often include carports and sheds where these are approved
structures. Non-built area was the best measure of grass and garden area available. In future research,
satellite imagery could be used to get a more accurate measurement of the garden area.

Mutli-level developments generally have very small non-built areas on a per dwelling basis and detached
dwellings have more non built area on a per dwelling basis.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 25


6.5 Wealth of Occupants
6.5.1 Value of Property (ULV)
The unimproved land value (ULV) for each block was used as a measure of wealth. The original data is at
the block level, however, strata title properties have very high unimproved land values (e.g.> $15 million)
which may not accurately reflect the wealth of those living on these types of block, especially those living in
apartments. Unimproved land values pro-rated to a per square meter basis also poorly reflect wealth.
Expensive land blocks such as those in Forrest or O’Malley have quite low values per square meter despite
buyers needing a large amount of money to buy those blocks because they are so large (>1500 square
meters). Neither of these two measures of wealth were statistically significant in the GAM model. Instead,
it was found that unimproved land value per dwelling was more logical measure of wealth and was also
statistically significant (p-value 2e-16).

Figure 6-17 shows that water consumption increases with higher ULV. Unimproved land value per dwelling
was the second most important determinant of dwelling water consumption after dwelling density. There
was low water consumption in dwellings with ULV less than $200,000. There was a high increase in water
consumption from blocks with a value of $200,000 to $350,000. Water consumption increased for properties
valued above $350,000 but at a lower rate. Dwellings with an unimproved land value above $700,000 used
an additional 170 L per day per day than dwellings with an unimproved land value below $200,000.

Figure 6-17 Water consumption as function of the unimproved land value per dwelling ($).
Trend line (solid line), 95% confidence bounds (shaded) and residuals shown.

26 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


6.5.2 Median Household Income
Median weekly household income at the collector district level was also investigated as a determinant of
dwelling water consumption. Income is highly spatial correlated at the CD level; that is, wealthy people often
live near other wealthy people and impoverished people near other impoverished people, which may reflect
earlier development strategies. Newly constructed, less expensive developments are likely to be those
furthest from the city centre.

Water consumption was found to be higher in dwellings with high median weekly income. Median weekly
income was only available at the SA1 level. Figure 6-18 shows that dwellings in areas with median incomes
less than $1000 per week used 64 L less per day than dwellings in areas with median incomes above
$3,000 per week (p-value 6 x10-7). The confidence bands widen for low median weekly incomes and high
median weekly incomes because there are few collector districts in the sample with those values.

Figure 6-18 Water consumption as function of median weekly household income ($·wk-1).
Trend line (solid line), 95% confidence bounds (shaded) and residuals shown.

6.6 Other Quantifiable Dwelling Characteristics


6.6.1 Percentage Renting or Owned
The hypothesis that water consumption is a function of the percentage of renters or owners was investigated
using the percentage of renters at the census SA1 level. The percentage of renters plus owners equals one
hundred.

Areas where more than 40 % of the dwellings were rented were found to use more water than areas with a
low proportion of rented dwellings (Figure 6-19).

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 27


Figure 6-19 Water consumption as function of the percentage of renters in the SA1 in which that block is
located (%). Trend line (solid line), 95% confidence bounds (shaded) and residuals shown.

6.6.2 Median Age of Residents


The median age of residents as recorded at the SA1level was investigated as a determinant of water
consumption but was found not to be significant.

6.6.3 Males/Females
The data does not provide any evidence to illuminate differences in consumption between males and
females.

6.6.4 Number of Occupants per Dwelling


Water consumption increased linearly with the number of occupants per dwelling. The number of occupants
per dwelling was estimated based on the census SA1 in which the dwelling was located. Figure 6-20 shows
dwellings in areas with four average occupants consumed 303 L per person per day more than dwellings
in areas with an average of only one occupant.

Figure 6-20 Water consumption as function of the average number of occupants per dwelling in the SA1 in which that
block is located (# people/dwelling). Trend line (solid line), 95% confidence bounds (shaded) and residuals shown.

28 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


6.7 Spatial Correlation
6.7.1 Latitude and Longitude
The possibility that water consumption is spatially correlated at the individual level as well as at the suburb
level was explored. Many anthropogenic traits do have some spatial correlation. For example unimproved
land value is highly correlated with the distance to the city centre. At the individual dwelling level, latitude
and longitude were statistically significant (p-value 6x10-16). Thus, there remains some spatially dependent
determinant of water consumption that was not included in the model and further research is needed to
determine what this might be.

6.8 Attitudes
There is reason to believe that attitudes should influence behaviours and therefore water and energy
consumption (Domene and Sauri, 2005; Jensen, 2008; Kahn, 2013; Lee, 2013; Randolph and Troy, 2008).
We note that households that are concerned with the environment appeared to use less water (IPART
2011:10). Further investigation into attitudes and behaviours that affect water consumption should be
investigated.

6.9 Social Determinants of Water Consumption


The fact that there is no statistically significant difference between the water consumption of those who live
in traditional houses compared with those living in higher density housing was initially, seen as counter-
intuitive.

Conventional wisdom, and indeed much current water management policy, is founded on the notion that
those who live in houses use more water than those who live in medium density housing (flats, apartments,
etc.) or other higher density forms of accommodation. Support for higher density housing policy is based
on the expectation that those who live in lower density housing consume more water. Earlier research on
domestic water consumption indicated that this might not be true. This study, based on a large sample of
dwellings strongly suggests that, in Canberra at least, this might not be true.

The traditional model of consumption recognized that detached dwellings had more garden space which, it
was assumed, led to greater water consumption to maintain them. It was also based on the assumption
that there were economies of scale in many household activities that led to lower water consumption in
these dwelling types.

This research and earlier similar work (Troy et al. 2006, Perkins et al. 2007) suggests, however, that the
social behavioural aspects of the way households in different forms of accommodation consume water may
be more important that hitherto thought.

The crude average consumption of different dwelling types suggest that flats use less water than houses.
But when the comparative consumption is adjusted to take account of the size of households in the various
dwelling types the differences largely disappear and those in high density dwellings consume slightly more
water per capita than those who live in medium and low density dwellings.

The explanation may, at least in part, be that households in detached dwellings have, on average, 2.4
people per house compared with 1.5 for those who live in high density dwellings.
Earlier studies of comparative consumption were based on average household sizes derived from spatially
based census accounting of the population – census collectors’ districts - that reported population in

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 29


relatively large agglomerations (generally approximately 200 households). Recent reporting of population
in smaller units of agglomeration - mesh blocks – of approximately forty households that enable more
accurate counts of the total population to be made.

It is thus now easier to report more accurately consumption for the households in different types of dwelling.
Rather than use ‘rough’ averages for consumption of households in different kinds of dwelling we are now
able to compute the consumption of households in different kinds of dwellings at a finer level of
disaggregation. This finer level of analysis indicates that households in high density dwellings have the
same level of consumption as households in low density dwellings (Figure 6-12).

It is evident that detached dwellings are more likely to have gardens that consume high volumes of water,
especially in summer. But flat dwellers may maintain a variety of pot plants that have high levels of water
consumption. Many high density dwellings also have garden beds or landscaped elements that require
season watering. Moreover, we know that over recent years housing policies have generally led to a
significant reduction in the size of detached dwelling allotments which, paradoxically, has been
accompanied by an increase in house size, thereby reducing significantly the size of any garden. One of
the consequences of the reduction in allotment size is that dwelling are less likely to be surrounded by trees
and large shrubs that have a local climate moderating effect and thus lead to greater propensity to use ‘air-
conditioning’ including evaporative coolers which consume significant volumes of water.

Households in high density dwellings are more likely to be renting their dwelling and are less likely to have
their own water consumption directly metered, creating a ‘tragedy of the commons’ environment. High
density dwellings typically have only one water meter for the block, so water consumption is apportioned
evenly across dwellings. Occupants thus have no pressure on them to be more careful in their use of water
because they cannot reduce their water bill by moderating their consumption. Moreover, rented
accommodation is less likely to have modern water efficient fittings or appliances or for them to be
maintained as well as those in privately owned housing. Approximately two thirds of higher density dwellings
are rented making this form of accommodation more likely to have higher consumption. In many mesh
blocks there is only one meter so that it is easier to more accurately relate the number of people living in it
to their water consumption. In cases where there are several meters in a mesh block more accurate
estimates of consumption have been made.

Interrogation of the water consumption data set reveals that the consumption of water is highly variable.
Some part of the apparent variation may be due to:
1. seasonal variation – including need in summer to maintain the level of swimming pools and the like
2. changes in the number of people occupying the dwelling over the course of a year or longer period
– this may be due to the ‘normal’ change of household composition due to household members
leaving/returning, new household arrangements including long term visitors arriving/departing
3. changes in occupancy due to sales of dwellings
4. changes in tenancy – especially for rental housing
5. faulty meters (i.e. leaking meters or leaking ‘below’ the meter).

The consumption of water is recorded quarterly thus providing an opportunity to explore seasonal variations
in consumption. This study has, however, revealed that there are wide variations in consumption of
individual detached dwellings over the course of a year and over the period of review (2006 -2011). More
importantly many of the high consumption detached dwellings appear to be grouped in the more expensive
residential areas. The usual assumption in such cases is that this is a consequence of the higher incomes

30 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


of the occupants. We do not have detailed income information for each household nor do we have detailed
information about the occupancy of each dwelling throughout the year.

Canberra, because it is the seat of the national government has a significant transient population that
includes members of the Parliament, support workers and lobbyists. Where accommodation is shared by
transient occupants the dwelling’s recorded use of water and energy may reveal high variation in
consumption due to changes in the apparent size of the household consumption may be close to zero in
periods.

The extreme variation is also found in higher density housing developments indicating that simplistic
physical deterministic explanations of consumption cannot provide authoritative explanations.

The study selected all those sites for which the calculated median consumption in litres per dwelling per
day was above 1500 litres over the period 2006- 2012. Site inspection using Google Earth and a “wind
shield” inspection revealed little additional information although in most cases pools were present and
gardens well maintained. Without detailed information about individual household composition or activities
conducted on the sites it is difficult to form any conclusions about what the components of high consumption
were.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 31


7 RESULTS - ENERGY
7.1 Variation in Consumption
Similar to water consumption, the distribution of gas and electricity consumption (Figure 7-1 and Figure
7-11 respectively) revealed some dwellings with very high consumption.

The mean dwelling gas consumption was 76 MJ per day, the median was 25 MJ per day and the median
absolute deviation was 36 MJ per day. There were 8,029 dwellings that consumed more than 5 times the
median over the study period.

The mean dwelling electricity consumption was 21.7 kWh per day, the median was 17.9 kWh per day and
the median absolute deviation was 9.8 kWh per day. There were 168 dwellings that consumed more than
5 times the median over the study period.

7.2 Time Series - GAS


The variation in residential gas consumption over the period January 2008 to September 2012 was explored.
Consumption at the beginning of the dataset did not capture consumption for the whole sample population and so
under-estimated the total sample gas consumption. Consumption for some dwellings at the end of the dataset
was also missing. This study therefore only considered gas consumption between 15/9/2009 and 1/7/2012.

Figure 7-1 shows the frequency distribution of gas consumption as recorded on customer bills. There were almost
20,000 bills of near zero consumption. This likely indicated the high number of dwelling that only used gas for
space heating and had very low consumption during the summer. Summer bills for dwellings with only gas
consumption were often not exactly zero because of very slow leaks in the system or because heating pilot lights
that remained on over the period. Only in new heating systems do pilot lights automatically switch off.

There were few residential dwellings with bills more than 10 times higher than the median gas bill. The
variation in gas consumption between dwellings is not normally distributed and is similar to the distribution
in consumption of water (Figure 6-3).

Figure 7-1 Distribution of gas consumption per dwelling in the sample

32 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


The study found that there was a clear seasonal trend with high consumption during winter and low
consumption during summer.

The first approach was to use minimum daytime temperatures as an explanatory variable as most gas was
known to be used for space heating. Using minimum temperatures for each day of the study period
explained 68.4 % of the variance. The maximum daily temperature was able to explain 74.8 % of the
variance. Monthly mean minimum temperature as a determinant of daily gas consumption was found to
explain 88.9 % of the variance. This may be because people do not adjust consumption (thermostat
settings) on a daily basis according to the outside temperature, but rather, either habitually or through
automatic electronic controls consume gas in a manner proportional to the previous day (‘set and forget’).

The variation in gas consumption over the year can be explained by a seasonal component and a long-
term trend. The combination (addition) of these two variables gives rise to the consumption in Figure 7-2.
Using the day of the year as the explanatory variable rather than minimum daily temperature improves the
explanatory power of the model.

Figure 7-2 Total sample gas consumption over study period

A generalised additive model (GAM) was used to estimate the determinants of gas consumption. Rather
than allowing an overly complex curve to be estimated as the curve of best fit, the values that this fitting
curve could attain was limited. This simplification reduces the explained variance of the model but allows
for much simpler explanation of the results.

Without presuming what environmental conditions or human behaviour may lead to this seasonality, the
variation in consumption was revealed using a cyclical repeating curve of best fit. Technically, this curve is
known as a “cyclic cubic regression spline” (Figure 7-3). It is cyclical because the end of the year must
match up to the beginning of the next year. The spline was limited to a two order polynomial. The long-term
trend was assumed to be a straight line. Both the seasonal and long term determinants were found to be
statistically significant. There was a slight increase in consumption over time for the sample population. The
GAM model explained 95.5 % of the variance in consumption.

The long-term increase in gas consumption could be because a) dwellings in later years used more gas
and occupants enjoyed a higher level of comfort, b) physical changes e.g. dwelling extensions led to the

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 33


increase in gas consumption, c) characteristics of the population changed over the period, or d) electric
appliances were replaced by gas appliances. It should be noted that the sample was of a fixed size so the
increase was not due to an increase in the number of dwellings.

Figure 7-3 Seasonality trend of gas consumption. Modelled (cyclical spline) curve of best fit (thick line),
95% error bounds (dashed lines) and residuals are shown.

Figure 7-4 shows the seasonality (red line) accounts for 95.5 % of the variation in gas consumption over
the period and the green line shows the long term trend. There has been a 4.5 % increase in gas
consumption per year over the last 3 years. The sample size was 15,020. The total increase was 98,238
MJ per year (equivalent to 27,288 kWh)

Figure 7-4 Modelled seasonal trend in gas consumption (red line) and
long-term trend (straight green line) over study period.

34 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


To investigate how consumption varied in different households, dwellings were divided into three types.
These division points were derived by inspection of the bill data.

Type 1 Households: Only gas cooking and/or gas hot water. Gas consumption in these dwellings
is characterised by low variability in consumption.

Type 2 Households: Only gas space heating. Gas consumption in these dwellings in characterised
by very low summer consumption equivalent to only a pilot light (1100 MJ per 90 day bill period).

Type 3 Households: Both gas used for space heating and cooking and/or hot water. Gas
consumption in these dwellings was characterised by high variability as well as considerable
consumption during the summer.

The same time series analysis was performed as above to investigate whether there was any difference in
temporal patterns of gas consumption between the three household types. Figure 7-5 shows the total
sample consumption curve and total consumption for the three different household types.

(Type 3)

Figure 7-5 Total sample gas consumption (solid line) and gas consumption in
Type 1, 2 and 3 households over the sample period.

Type 1 – These types of households use gas only for cooking and/or hot water. Figure 7-6 shows the
seasonal and long term trend in consumption in these households. The vertical axis has been exaggerated
as these users have low total consumption and low variability in their bills (see Figure 7-5 above). There is
still a seasonal component with more being used in winter time. Gas consumption in this subset of
households increased at rate of 7.1 % per year, faster than the average gas consumption of 4.5 % per year.

The seasonal pattern in Type 1 households indicates that these occupants may cook more in winter or use
more hot water or that more energy is required to heat the water. The long term increase in consumption of
these users may indicate a long term change in behaviour or a high rate of switching from electric to gas
consumption. If electric to gas appliance switching is occurring, it should not be surprising that the rate was
higher for these types of users because the cost of installing a gas instant hot water system or gas cook
top is much less than a central heating system.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 35


Figure 7-6 Type 1 households modelled seasonal trend in gas consumption (red line)
and long-term trend (straight green line) over study period.

Type 2 – These types of households use gas only for space heating. Their use pattern is very regular.
Figure 7-7 shows the seasonal and long term trend in consumption in these households. Gas consumption
in this subset of households increased at rate of 4.9 % per year.

Figure 7-7 Type 2 households modelled seasonal trend in gas consumption (red line)
and long-term trend (straight green line) over study period.

36 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Type 3 – These types of households use gas for space heating and hot water and/or cooking. Gas
consumption in this subset of households increased at rate of 4.2 % per year. Figure 7-8 shows the seasonal
and long term trend in consumption in these households.

Figure 7-8 Type 3 households modelled seasonal trend in gas consumption (red line)
and long-term trend (straight green line) over study period.

7.3 Time Series analysis electricity


The time series electricity consumption data was analysed using the same methods as for gas consumption
(Section 7.1). The daily consumption from every bill of every dwelling in the sample was calculated.
Consumption was summed across the sample to give total daily energy consumption of the sample. As with
the gas data, the raw electricity data has spurious points at beginning and end of the study period (Figure
7-9). These were trimmed.

Figure 7-9 Total sample electricity consumption over study period

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 37


Figure 7-10 shows total electricity consumption for the trimmed sample. The vertical axis has been truncated.
A regular seasonal pattern is evident with a peak during winter. There was also a decline in total energy
consumption that is evident especially in the latter 2 years of data (2011 and 2012).
Figure 7-10 Trimmed ('cleaned') total sample electricity consumption over study period

The histogram in Figure 7-11 shows the variability in electricity consumption. There was a high number of
electricity bills with zero or near zero consumption. Similar to gas and water consumption, there are some
dwellings with very high consumption. Consumption during some billing periods and for some dwellings
was more than 10 times the median consumption.

Figure 7-11 Distribution of electricity consumption per dwelling in the sample

The seasonal variation can be modelled with high accuracy using a 2 order polynomial. Season alone
accounts for 91.9 % of the variation in consumption. The high consumption occurs in winter when space
heating would likely be a major component. If this peak in consumption was due entirely to space heating
then space heating would account for a 44 % increase in demand on the grid. However, lighting and other
appliances may also be used more during winter time.

There has been a steady decline in electricity consumption between 2007 and 2012 (Figure 7-12). Total
decline in consumption over the last 7 years has been 5.7 % or 0.8 % on an annualised basis.

38 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Figure 7-12 Modelled seasonal trend in electricity consumption (red line)
and long-term trend (straight green line) over study period

7.4 Dwelling Infrastructure


7.4.1 Dwelling Type
Energy consumption for different gross measures of dwelling density are shown in Figure 7-13. ‘High
Density’, ‘Low Density’ and ‘Unknown Density’ types are defined in Table 7. A first attempt to quantify the
energy use of different building types was Figure 7-13 (left) which is a bar graph that shows the median and
range in energy consumption for these three building types in the sample. While at first this would indicate
that high density dwellings use less energy, such dwelling types also accommodate fewer occupants. Figure
7-13 (right) adjusts for the estimated number of occupants in each dwelling based on the national census
mesh block population density. There is very little difference in energy consumption even using these crude
measures of dwelling type. The maximum energy consumption in high density dwellings is lower than the
maximum energy consumed in low density dwellings.

Such crude measures of dwelling type mask many differences in dwelling construction that may lead to variation
in energy consumption that is not fully captured by simple measures of density. Compared with low density
dwellings, high density dwelling are smaller, use electricity rather than gas, are more likely to be rented, are likely
to be newer, are often less expensive and are likely to have occupants with different socio-economic and
demographic characteristics to single stand-alone dwellings. These factors, among others, in combination affect
energy consumption. For example, simply including the number of occupants in the different dwelling types in
Figure 7-13 (right) significantly alters the conclusions regarding the energy use intensity of these building types
(Figure 7-13, left). Thus, any analysis of building type as a determinant of energy consumption must
simultaneously consider other independent factors that may affect energy consumption in those dwellings types.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 39


Crude measures of building type based on Table 7 were found, by inspection, not to be a useful method of
delineating different building types for the purpose of energy analysis. Instead, building density as measured
by the number of people per square kilometre (measured at the dwelling level) was found to be a superior
method of comparing different building types.

Figure 7-13 Box plot of daily energy consumption as a function of building type,
calculated per dwelling (left) and per capita (right)

7.4.2 Building Density


Dwelling density was calculated as the number of dwellings per square kilometre equivalent but measured
at the dwelling level. This makes the most sensible measure of density when visually inspecting these
dwellings. Dwellings with occupant densities above 30,000 people per square kilometre were found to be
dwellings of 3 to 15 storeys with below building car parking and dwellings with occupant densities below
2,000 people per square kilometre were found to be detached dwellings on blocks generally larger than
12,000 square meters.

The number of dwellings per block was also investigated as a suitable measure of density, but the highest
density areas by this measure are very large single block strata titles that comprise of mostly 2 storey
dwellings. Thus, density measured as the number of people housed per square kilometre should be used
rather than the density of dwellings because it was found to give a more accurate measure of density for
the purpose of analysing energy consumption.

There was a strong and statistically significant (p-value < 2e-16) relationship between total energy
consumption and dwelling density. Dwellings with an equivalent population density of ~5,000 to ~7,000
people per square kilometre had the lowest energy consumption. These are predominately horizontal
subdivisions on strata title blocks with stand alone dwellings (i.e. not multi-level or more than one shared
wall dwellings) or dual occupancy blocks. This is consistent with the Energy Australia report (Myors et al.
2005) which found the lowest energy consumption in townhouses and villas which have approximately the
same population density.

Energy consumption increased for dwellings with an equivalent population density greater than ~7,000
people per square kilometre and also for dwellings with an equivalent population density less than ~5,000
people per square kilometre (Figure 7-14).

40 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


For dwelling densities above 12,000 people per square kilometre there was a slight but statistically
insignificant increase in per dwelling energy consumption. That is, a straight line could be contained within
the 95 % confidence bounds in Figure 7-14. The width of the confidence bounds for higher density dwellings
(> 30,000 people per square kilometre) could be reduced with a larger sample set of higher density
dwellings. In Canberra, these dwelling types are uncommon compared with single stand alone dwellings.

Figure 7-14 Marginal effect of population density on dwelling energy consumption

Energy consumption in higher density dwellings was under-reported because many did not include the bills
of the body corporate which should be pro-rated to all the dwellings on that block. Once each dwelling’s
components of the body corporate energy consumption is added to their consumption values, the per-
dwelling consumption is increased by as much as 17 % (Section 7.5). The low density dwellings (less than
2,000 people per square kilometre equivalent) with the highest energy consumption were found to be single
dwellings on blocks with an average size above 1200 square meters and a low number of reported
occupants at the 2011 census. These results are consistent with those found by Perkins et al. (2007) which
showed higher ‘dwelling operational energy’ in Inner Suburban Households compared with City Centre
apartments. Perkins et al. (2007) also considered dwelling embodied energy and transport energy, and
including these forms of energy, found little difference in total energy consumption between these two
dwelling types.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 41


7.4.3 Age of Development

The age of each dwelling was explored as a determinant of energy consumption because many recent
changes to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) have focussed on building energy efficiency. Furthermore,
in the ACT, dwellings constructed after 1996 were required to have a minimum Energy Efficiency Rating
(EER) of 4 stars and those built after 2006 required a minimum of 5 stars (Department of the Environment,
Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2008).

Building development date was known for all dwellings constructed after 1979. For dwellings build prior to
that date, suburb development date was used. Improvements and redevelopment information was not
available, but could be used to improve analysis.

Figure 7-15 shows there was a slight increase in energy consumption for dwellings built in the 1970s
compared with previous developments built from the 1920s onwards. There was a slight decrease in
consumption in dwellings built between 1975 and 1982. Energy consumption of dwellings peaked for those
dwellings built in the mid 1990s. Energy consumption in dwellings built after 1996 is considerably less but
similar to dwellings built before 1950. The results are statically significant (p-value 9x10-8).

Figure 7-15 Marginal effect of year of dwelling development on dwelling energy consumption

42 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


7.4.4 Size of Development: Built Area

The size of each dwelling was measured as the footprint area (square metres). For blocks with multiple
dwellings, the footprint area per dwelling was calculated as the footprint of the entire building complex
divided evenly among the number of dwellings. For multi-level developments, the number for floors was not
available so those developments have much lower reported footprint areas. This inaccuracy in reported
floor area is exaggerated the greater the number of floors. There was a near linear increase in consumption
for dwellings with floor areas up to 250 square meters, but little increase in consumption for larger dwellings.
Figure 7-16 shows the increase in energy consumption for dwellings up to 450 square meters.

Figure 7-16 Marginal effect of dwelling footprint size on dwelling energy consumption

7.5 Dwelling type: case study


The relationship between building density (dwelling per square metre of block) and energy consumption
could not be investigated in more detail for very high density dwellings detail because of a lack of body
corporate energy consumption data and small sample size. This affects the GAM by under reporting the
energy consumption in high density dwellings.

The body corporate energy consumption is all the energy that is consumed by the base building, such as
common areas and other shared services. The quantity of energy required by the body corporate is a
function of the building type and density. Single or double storey dwellings may require only energy for path
lighting. An underground car park will require considerably more energy for forced ventilation, pumping to
remove water, gates, security and 24hr lighting than an open air car park. For higher density dwellings,
additional energy is needed for lifts, fire escapes and potable water pumping.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 43


Because the body corporate energy consumption was not available for most buildings, a case study is
presented to highlight the differences in energy consumption for different high density dwellings and
highlight the need for greater research in this area. Should the body corporate energy consumption data be
available, it should be evenly divided and added to the personal consumption of all occupants.

Three high density buildings were chosen for analysis:


 Building 1 was a two storey, strata tile block where approximately 50% of dwellings share one wall,
and the remaining are free standing. There was no underground car park. Average block area per
dwelling was 408 square meters and it was built prior to 1979.
 Building 2 was a complex of 4 separate buildings all between three and six storey high. All car
parking was underground. Average block area per dwelling was 77 square meters and it was built
in 2001.
 Building 3 was a single 15 storey tower block with underground car parking. Average block area
per dwelling was 66 square meters and it was built in 1985.

These three buildings were chosen because all three had body corporate electricity consumption data
available and because they all had the largest number of dwellings for their type. The mean daily electricity
consumption for these three buildings was higher than for the average high density dwelling. For a
discussion of energy consumption as a function of density, see Section 7.4.2.

Figure 7-17 shows the average electricity consumption per dwelling for the three buildings, the component
of body corporate electricity consumption added to each dwelling and the range in average daily electricity
consumption over the 7 year study period. For Building 1, the body corporate electricity consumption
constitutes 0.3 % of the average dwelling consumption. For Buildings 2 & 3, the body corporate electricity
consumption component represents 17 % of the average dwelling consumption.

The error bars represent the maximum and minimum average daily electricity consumption for dwellings
within each building. Values for each dwelling are averaged over the 5 years of bill data. The error bars are
inaccurately small for Building 3 because only bills for 8 of the 71 occupants were provided. Electricity
consumption is highly variable even within apartments that have similar physical characteristics. For
example, in the apartments in Building 2, average daily electricity consumption was found to vary between
8 and 60 kWh per day. Building 2 was the newest building, built in 2001, but had the dwelling with the
highest maximum daily average electricity consumption.

The dashed line in Figure 7-17 is the mean daily electricity consumption for those dwellings in the sample
that do not have gas connected. Dwellings with gas connected consume much more total energy than those
without gas connected and are therefore not used for comparison. Unfortunately there are no free standing
apartment sized dwellings that could be used to isolate the effect of density.

44 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


Figure 7-17 Electricity consumption for occupants of three high density dwellings

Building 2 typifies the urban infill that is occurring around the city centres of 2-5 storey buildings with
underground car parking. The addition of the underground car parking to such low rise buildings significantly
increases the energy consumption on a per dwelling basis by between 8 and 17 %. In similar height
dwellings but where no underground car park is provided (above ground only) body corporate electricity
consumption adds only 1 – 2.5 % to per dwelling consumption.

Dwelling density, as measured by the number of floor levels, was found to be a poor indication of the amount
of energy that will be consumed in each apartment.

The additional energy that is required by the body corporate in higher density dwellings may add
considerably to the average energy consumption of each dwelling in that building. Any perceived lower
energy consumption in some high density dwellings compared with free standing houses may be erroneous
unless the body corporate electricity consumption is included. As buildings increase in height, the energy
required for servicing increase, for example, with the requirement of lifts. These results are consistent with
those reported by Energy Australia (Myors et al. 2005) which also found higher energy consumption for
higher density dwellings. They also found that high density dwellings with more than 9 floors had very high
base building consumption. Detached dwellings were found to use a similar amount to medium density
dwellings (4 to 8 floors).

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 45


7.6 Wealth of Occupants
7.6.1 Property Value: Unimproved Land Value

Unimproved land value, calculated per dwelling for multi-dwelling blocks, was used as a measure of wealth
to investigate its effect on energy consumption.

There was little variation in energy consumption for dwellings with unimproved land values less than
$150,000. These correspond mainly to small apartment dwellings. Dwellings with higher unimproved land
values consumed more energy. Dwellings with unimproved land values of $800,000 were found to use 14
kWh per day more than dwellings with unimproved land values of less than $200,000 (Figure 7-18).

Figure 7-18 Marginal effect of unimproved land value on dwelling energy consumption

46 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


7.6.2 Median Weekly Household Income

Median weekly household income at the collector district level was investigated as a determinant of dwelling
energy consumption.

Median weekly income of the sample at the collector district level (SA1) has a small but statistically
significant (p-value 0.000285) effect on energy consumption (Figure 7-19). While there appears to be higher
consumption in dwellings in low income areas as well as in high income areas, the size effect is small.
Dwellings in areas (SA1) with household median weekly incomes of $2,800 consumed approximately 4
kWh per day more than dwellings in areas with median household incomes below $1,500 per week.

Figure 7-19 Marginal effect of median weekly household income on dwelling energy consumption

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 47


7.7 Other Quantifiable Dwelling Characteristics
7.7.1 Percentage of Dwellings Rented

Figure 7-20 shows that dwellings in areas with a high proportion of renters (> 70 %) were found to use less
energy than dwellings located in areas with a low proportion of renters (< 15 %). The magnitude of the
variation is 1.5 kWh per dwelling per day.

The percentage of renters in the collector district (SA1) was a statistically significant determinant of energy
consumption (p-value 0.0012). However, the percentage of renters when measured at the SA1 spatial
resolution is highly correlated to other census statistics that relate to socio-economic variables. Thus, further
research is needed to determine if the act of renting leads to lower energy consumption, or if the percentage
of renters is a proxy for some other socio-economic determinant that was not included in the model.

Figure 7-20 Marginal effect of the percentage of renters in the


neighbouring district on dwelling energy consumption

48 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


7.7.2 Median Age of Occupants

Median age of occupants in the surrounding SA1 did not have a statistically significant effect on energy
consumption.

7.7.3 Proportion of Males/Females


The data does not provide any evidence to illuminate differences in energy consumption between males
and females based on census collected information.

7.7.4 Number of Occupants per Dwelling


The number of occupants in a dwelling is known to be a significant determinant of energy consumption
(IPART, 2011). Figure 7-21 shows that energy consumption increases with the number of people per
dwelling. The vertical segmentation in the residuals occurs because the number of people per dwelling was
estimated from national census data which is only collected at the SA1 level rather than detailed surveys of
each dwelling. Each vertical segmentation shows the spread in the residuals in that SA1. This SA1
averaging also limits the maximum number to 3.5 people per dwelling because individual dwelling counts
were not reported.

IPART (2011) indicates a linear relationship between the number of occupants and energy consumption.
However, while there was an increase in consumption with number of occupants, the rate of increase was
low, indicating economies of scale, for example from heating and lighting.

Figure 7-21 Marginal effect of the number of occupants on dwelling energy consumption

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 49


7.8 Occupant Attitudes
There is a widely purported relationship between general environmental attitudes and levels of concern and
energy consumption (for example, Kahn and Costa, 2013). Further investigation of behaviour and beliefs in
determining consumption may be warranted. In particular, it would be valuable to identify suitable
measurements that indicate environmental attitudes.

7.9 Spatial Variability


The latitude and longitude of each dwelling was included in the model to take into account any spatial
variables that had not been modelled because such data was not available. The latitude and longitude was
statistically significant (p-value <2x10-16). This indicated that there were some determinants of energy
consumption that have not been captured by the model employed. These determinants are unlikely to be
occupant behaviour alone because occupant behaviour is not expected to vary spatially across the city.

7.9.1 Temperature
As a first attempt to explain the spatial variation remaining in the model, temperature was investigated as a
determinant of energy consumption.

Variation in vegetation cover throughout the city can have a significant effect on the thermal comfort of
residents (Coutts et al. 2013). Some vegetation types may cool urban areas (Bowler et al. 2010). To
investigate whether thermal variations in the city were affecting the use of energy, a sample thermal map
of the entire city area was used to assign a night time temperate profile to each dwelling. It was predicted
that thermal differences around the city may cause an increase in heating in cooler areas. Summer daytime
was also tested in case the increase in energy consumption is due to an increase in air conditioning use in
hotter areas of the city.

Landsat 7 satellite images for Canberra were converted to surface temperature measurements (degrees
Celsius) using the methods of Coll et al. 2010. Night time and day time images of thermal band 6 were
used. These images have a spatial resolution of ~60 meters at ground level. The daytime summer thermal
image was from the 2nd February 2010 and the night time winter thermal image was from the 5th of June
2001. The surface temperature varied between 34 and 37 in February degrees Celsius and -4 and 6
degrees Celsius in June.

There was a small but statistically significant relationship between energy consumption and winter and
summer surface temperature (p-value 0.010844 and 0.001268 respectively). The remaining spatial variation
had a small effect but could not be investigated with the data available. Counter to intuition, dwellings in
warmer areas of the city used more energy in winter while dwellings in cooler areas of the city in summer
also used more energy. Although surface temperature was able to explain some of the statistically
significant spatial variance that was found in the model after accounting for the other determinants, it could
not fully explain this variance. The remaining spatial variation had a small effect size and could not be further
investigated with the data available.

50 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


7.10 Social Determinants of Consumption
Some support for higher density housing policy is founded on the premise that higher density dwellings
consume less energy than lower density forms of accommodation. Higher density dwellings, however,
accommodate smaller households. Urban infill in some area of the city centre will change the demographic
characteristics of those areas.

Total energy efficiency was found not to increase with higher dwelling densities. Both very high and very
low density dwellings were found to use considerably more energy than dwellings with a density of 6,000 –
7,000 people per square kilometre. The non-linear relationship between energy consumption and
population density highlights the importance of using a non-linear model to explore these relationships.

The generalised additive model (GAM) employed in this study attempts to isolate the contribution of each
determinant of energy consumption to inform the understanding of the true effect of those determinants on
the total energy consumption. This is only a first step in analysing the sustainability of different dwelling
types. Full analysis requires consideration of the body corporate energy consumption, embodied energy of
different dwelling types and the use patterns of different types of dwellings.

If carbon dioxide emissions are used as a measure of sustainability then fuel type, appliance efficiency and
behaviour (collectively ‘use efficiency’) are just as important as the energy efficiency of the physical
structure.

The GAM was able to explain 58 % of the variation in energy consumption but there may be limited policy
usefulness in highly detailed models with potentially hundreds of variables. The explanatory power of the
model could certainly be improved with more data. However, it is likely that behaviour of occupants will
remain a major determinant of energy consumption in addition to the building structure determinants already
investigated.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 51


8 SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC ELECTRICAL GENERATION SYSTEMS

Almost 10 % of dwellings in the sample had solar systems on their roof generating electricity used in the
home. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, all solar systems installed in Canberra have gross metering
so the quantity of solar generation does not offset the dwelling consumption prior to recording through the
meter.

The effect on consumption from the decision to install a system was investigated in two ways; a) by
indicating in the GAM which dwellings had a solar system to identify if these dwelling used a statistically
different amount to the rest of the sample and b) by comparing average daily energy consumption of
dwellings before and after they had a solar system installed to measure any change in energy consumption
as a result of the installation.

The GAM quantified the bias of those dwelling that installed solar system. It was found that occupants who
installed a solar system on their dwelling consumed 12.7 % less (p-value 0.000451) than the average
population. Note, that the GAM measured the energy consumption of the dwelling and does not consider
the amount of electricity generated by the solar panels that could be used to offset that consumption.

The premium feed in tariff (FiT) was legislated at 3.88 times the retail rate, and reduced over time to 2.6
times the retail rate. Only residential dwellings that were eligible for the medium feed in tariff would have
received a lower rate. Installations since 2011 do not receive the FiT and since 1 July 2013 new customers
receive the ‘Solar Buyback’ tariff offered by ActewAGL which is equivalent to the supply charge of electricity
for power consumed when generated and 7.5 cents per kWh for electricity exported to the grid. Thus, a
system that produces a 1/3 of the dwelling consumption will reduce the bills for that dwelling by roughly 1/3
if the dwelling generates at the same time as it consumes the power.

In the baseline sample, there were 1382 dwellings that had a solar system that on average offset 37.6 % of
their electricity consumption. It is not possible using quarterly consumption data to estimate the amount the
solar systems may reduce grid peak demand.

There was a median reduction of 5.1 % in energy consumption for those who installed solar system. Over
the same period, the baseline dataset showed median average electricity consumption reduced by 5.7 %
which means there was a real increase 0.6 % compared with the baseline. The standard deviation was 17
%. Dwellings that received the ‘solar buy-back’ tariff reduced consumption by 1.7 %. The standard deviation
was also 17 % and indicated no statistical difference in consumption between dwellings that received the
premium FiT, those who received the ‘solar buy-back’ tariff, and the baseline dataset.

Dwellings that had higher electricity consumption installed larger solar systems. A dwelling that consumed
an average of 20 kWh of electricity per day installed a solar system that generates 6.8 kWh per day (1.67
kW system) whereas with a dwelling that consumed an average of 100 kWh per day in electricity installed
a system that generates 11.1 kWh per day (2.9 kW system).

Of the dwellings with a solar system 8.4 % generated more than electricity than they consumed.

52 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


9 SOLAR ORIENTATION: CASE STUDY
To investigate whether solar aspect (North, South, East or West) or apartment floor level were determinants
of electricity consumption, and to further investigate the variation in dwelling consumption within a single
apartment complex (Section 7.5) one of the tallest apartment buildings in Canberra was studied in more
detail.

The structure and orientation of residential dwellings can be a major determinant in the quantity of energy
required to maintain them thermally comfortable. Increases in the efficiency of newer buildings have been
achieved in the most part by changes to the Building Code of Australia (BCA). Energy Efficiency Ratings
(DEWHA 2008) and mandated solar access (ACT Government, 2011) have recently been introduced to
further improve the thermal efficiency.

Efficiency star ratings rate the thermal efficiency of a dwelling based on its climatic regional location and
the heat loss from the dwelling based on a pre-determined level of comfort. Dwelling thermal energy
efficiency is commonly measured by the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). Dwelling EER star ratings range
from 0 to 10. Dwellings with a rating of zero provide no thermal protection from outside temperature variation
(without heating) while with those with 10 stars requires no active (electrical or gas) energy for space heating
or cooling. The main influence on EER are the orientation of the dwelling, air flow through the building
(draught sealing) and the insulation. The apartments here studied have an EER rating from 4.5-6.0
depending on orientation.

The floor level of each dwelling was also investigated as a possible determinant of energy consumption
because higher floor levels may have increased heat loss compared with lower floors because average
wind speed increases as a function of height above the ground.

The sample was of 163 apartments in 3 buildings of 3, 6 and 18 floors high with 15, 48 and 100 dwellings
respectively. The number of dwellings in which the main glazed widows face the east, north and west were
34, 105 and 19 respectively. No apartments had their main glazed windows facing south. A restaurant and
four ground floor dwellings that appeared to be used for commercial purposes were removed from the
sample.

The three buildings in the apartment complex were all built at the same time, by the same developer. By
using this small sample of near identical dwellings, co-factors such as building type, quality of the
workmanship and materials etc. that may affect energy consumption are greatly reduced. The remaining
variation between apartment blocks is a) the floor level on which it is located, b) the orientation of the main
windows (North, East or West) and c) the behaviour of the occupants.

The apartment block is located in Canberra where a large portion of the energy is likely used for space
heating. Thus, solar orientation is expected to be a major influence on total energy consumption.

The mean energy consumption per dwelling was 6800 kWh equivalent (gas and electricity). There was
electricity bill data for 158 dwellings of which 149 also used natural gas. Total energy consumption was split
evenly between gas and electricity. A total of 6,438 quarterly bills were combined to give 7 year average
energy consumption (kWhe) for each dwelling.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 53


Figure 9-1shows a histogram for all quarterly energy bills for all the apartments. Gas bills are converted to
kWh equivalent and multiplied by an efficiency factor of 0.8 to account for the loss of energy due to the
inefficiencies of externally flued gas space and water heaters. Figure 9-1 reveals that energy consumption
is not normally distributed and that some apartment occupants use very large amounts of energy per 90
day billing period.

Figure 9-1 Distribution of energy consumption per dwelling in the case study

A generalised additive model was used to investigate the effect of orientation of the main glazed windows
of a dwelling and the floor level on total energy consumption.

Solar orientation was not a statistically significant determinant of dwelling energy consumption. It was not
statistically significant; p-value 0.31 for North facing dwellings and p-value 0.84 for West facing dwellings.

The floor level of a dwelling was also not a determinant of total energy consumption. It was not statistically
significant (p-value 0.22). Figure 9-2 shows the marginal effect on total energy consumption as a function of the
apartment floor. It may be expected that dwellings on higher floors would use more energy as these are more
expensive and some of the topmost floors are much larger penthouses. However, no evidence of this was found.

Figure 9-2 Marginal effect of apartment floor level on dwelling energy consumption

54 Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013


While it is practically possible to build a dwelling in Canberra that requires no energy for heating or cooling
(EER 10 stars) and heating accounts for approximately 50 % of residential energy consumption on average,
high EER dwellings may not reduce total dwelling energy consumption because it is the behaviour of
dwelling occupants that determines a large portion of the total energy consumption. Occupant behaviour
far outweighs structural determinants of energy consumption. In this case study, for example, even
annualised over 7 years, some apartments use 3.5 times the median total energy consumption of the entire
block of apartments. In some billing periods high consumers use more than 8 times the median energy
consumption. Such wide variation in consumption even in identical houses is not uncommon. Some
occupants may use ten times as much as the lowest consumers in the same block.

The above analysis should not diminish the importance of solar orientation on dwelling energy consumption
for space heating or comfort. Thermodynamically, a high star rated dwelling requires less energy for space
heating than a low star rated dwelling for the same comfort level. However, behaviour of occupants and
changes in that behaviour for different dwellings types may be a much larger determinant of energy
consumption than the star rating alone.

Further research should evaluate the effect of higher star ratings. The star rating of dwellings could be
added to a generalised additive model so that only the effect of star rating can be isolated.

Canberra Residential Energy and Water Consumption 2013 55


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ISBN 9780992555504

9 780992 555504