Sydneysiders are not acting to conserve energy use in their homes, according to a report by the UNSW City Futures Research Centre.

The study, Energy Consumption and the Built Environment: a Social and Behavioural Analysis, is the first of its kind and looks at whether the dwelling type and socio- behavioural characteristics of households influence energy consumption.

The report's key findings are as follows:

• The vast majority of Sydneysiders think energy conservation is an important issue, but most have little real idea how they might reduce energy use in the home, especially if it reduces their levels of personal comfort or amenity. • Households generally have a highly inaccurate impression of their energy consumption. Most Sydneysiders believe that they use below average amounts of energy.• Energy conservation practises are not widespread. Beyond turning off lights in unused rooms, only about 1 in 5 respondents had taken other forms of action to reduce energy use.• Socio-demographic and cultural factors appear to have a greater influence on energy consumption then dwelling type or household structure. • People would be more willing to adopt energy saving devices if they were at least half subsidised by the government. A full government subsidy is not seen as necessary and would only marginally increase the take-up rate.• People do not see the cost of energy as related to their consumption and there is little understanding of how much energy is used in domestic activities. Price increases of between 25 and 50 per cent would be needed alter people's usage.• Alternative ways of encouraging energy saving were popular. Suggestions included better education, enhancing overall concern on environmental matters, penalising heavy users, and a better example being set by the Government.• Households with children and teenagers believe that their high consumption is due to their children.• Reducing energy consumption in flats and rental property is likely to be more difficult to achieve than for houses or for home owners.

Contact: Professor Bill Randolph, Director, City Futures Research Centre, tel. 0409 917 805

Media Office contact: Victoria Collins, UNSW Media Office, tel 0412 980 044.

The full report can be downloaded here