Every few years, IPART commissions a survey of households about electricity, gas and water usage.
These surveys provide background information to help us understand the context of our decisions, and to inform broader policy debates. We use analysis of our surveys to help inform our decisions on water pricing and other reviews. We also make the survey results publicly available so that other organisations can use them.
The surveys ask a range of questions about each household, including what appliances they use, any energy and water concessions accessed and if a household has experienced difficulty paying their electricity, gas or water bills.
The 2015 survey is our seventh household survey since 1993.
We commissioned Roy Morgan Research to conduct the survey. It interviewed 4,404 households in Sydney, the Hunter, Gosford, the Riverina, and the North Coast.
Our key findings include:
- NSW households are actively trying to reduce their electricity and water consumption, with around three-quarters of households saying they had tried to use less electricity and water over the previous five years. Around one third had tried to reduce their gas consumption.
- Around 80% of households said their main reason for trying to use less energy was to save money. On the other hand, the primary motivations for trying to use less water were concern for the environment and water restrictions. Only around a third said their main reason was to save money on their water bills.
- The likelihood of having difficulty paying a utility bill depends on a combination of low income, large household size (three or more people), high usage and/or high accommodation costs (renting or buying home).
- Of the households that had felt unable to pay bills, around half approached their electricity or gas supplier, and around one-third approached their water supplier. Most of these households said their supplier had helped by allowing the bill to be paid off in instalments and/or extending the bill’s due date. In a few instances, the supplier had referred the household to an emergency relief agency or a financial counsellor.
- There is greater awareness of NSW Government funded Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) vouchers to help with gas or electricity bills, than Payment Assistance Scheme (PAS) vouchers to help with water bills. About 5% of households had used EAPA vouchers and 2% had used PAS vouchers in the past three years.
- The overall rate of disconnections was low: only around 1% of all households said they had experienced a disconnection or a water flow restriction in the previous three years.