Research for a recently awarded Charles Sturt University (CSU) PhD thesis has found that understanding how households make decisions about their electricity use could be the key to savings for governments, generators and consumers.

“Because there is an increasing demand for electricity, and increasing environmental concerns about how it is generated, distributed and used, there is a need to develop more effective demand management strategies that increase the efficiency of residential electricity consumption,” said Dr Jodie Kleinschafer, a recent CSU graduate and lecturer in marketing at the CSU School of Marketing and Management in Bathurst.
“However, attempts to manage household electricity demand or increase efficiency so far have had only sporadic success, and there has been limited investigation into how households make energy efficiency choices.”
Dr Kleinschafer’s investigation examined research from both household efficiency literature and household decision-making literature, part of consumer behaviour literature.
“Most of the existing research literature had explored how decisions were made within households for the purchase of single big-ticket items, like cars, refrigerators and washing machines,” she said. “There was little that attempted to explain how households made decisions about incremental small-cost efficiency gains and savings for something like domestic electricity use which most occupants contribute to with the flick of a switch many times a day.”
The research investigated the presence of trends in household decision making across households. After her literature review, Dr Kleinschafer used nine focus groups to inform the development of a survey that was then distributed to 4 000 households in regional NSW. The results provided six key insights into household efficiency choices:
1. About 41 per cent of households do not believe that it is necessary to increase their efficiency.  This indicates the need for awareness-based campaigns if a market-wide increase in efficiency is desired.
2. The recognition of the need to alter electricity consumption in the household does not always lead to efficiency outcomes. Accordingly, it is important for marketers developing demand management strategies to include a call-to-action in their communications.
3. In contrast to need recognition, ‘information search’ is predictive of both past efficiency behaviours and household interest in demand management strategies. Thus, this is a useful point of contact for marketers attempting to influence household efficiency choices.
4. It was found that types of households differ in their use of influence strategies. This provides substantial evidence of the value of influence strategies as a basis for market segmentation.
5. Efficiency decisions are more likely to be made jointly than to be dominated by one member of the household, in keeping with the notion that decisions made cooperatively have greater efficiency outcomes. This suggests the importance of marketing campaigns that target multiple household members and promotes cooperative decision making for household efficiency.
6. The identification of ‘household norms’ as a part of the household decision making process.  Household norms are the implicit rules of behaviour that households use to simplify the decision making process. They are developed over time and can shape long-term efficiency behaviours. Household norms have not been examined in the household decision making literature previously, but the results of this research suggest that they are an important aspect of household decision making processes that should be examined more in the future.

“This information provides researchers and marketers alike with a greater understanding of how households make efficiency choices, and how those choices can be influenced to develop more successful demand management programs,” Dr Kleinschafer said.

The Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) has has released its Final Price Determination for the solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Premium to apply from 27 January 2012 – 30 June 2014.

Sustainability Victoria (SV) is seeking to engage an organisation to assist it to build its existing knowledge base on upgrading the energy efficiency of existing (pre-2005) Victorian houses.

The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator has called for comment on on the amendments to the Regulation 19B Legislative Instrument – Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) methodology for solar water heaters and air source heat pump water heaters

The NSW Government’s draft Planning Guidelines for Wind Farms  are on public exhibition until March 14.

The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), a national coalition of health care groups, has released findings that refute any correlation between wind power and decreased human health.

Spanish company Acciona has announced it will construct a $400 million wind farm in Victoria’s Western District, six years after it received planning approval.

Australia-Pacific LNG (APLNG) has signed a binding agreement with the Sinopec Group of China that will see Sinopec take a total of 7.6 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per annum from the APLNG Project in Gladstone in Queensland. It is the largest LNG supply agreement in Australian history.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, has announced the latest schools to receive grants as part of the Federal Government's National Solar Schools Program.


Under the 2011-12 round, 784 schools across Australia have each been awarded grants of up to $50,000, which will help save and generate energy, as well as use water more wisely by installing solar and other renewable power systems, rainwater tanks and a range of energy efficiency measures.


Mr Dreyfus said that to date 3,800 schools across Australia have been awarded grants under the program.


"The combination of renewable energy systems installed under this program will generate approximately 20MW of solar power - the equivalent of powering around 4,200 average households each day," he said.


Applications were assessed on value for money criteria, as well as environmental and educational benefits.


Applications from schools located in remote or low socio-economic areas received additional weighting to allow funding to be directed to schools most in need.


Applications for 2012-13, the final round of the National Solar Schools Program, will open on 13 February, 2012. Further information about the Program, including a list of successful grant recipients, is available on the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website.



The Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has announced the appointment of Mr Ross Bunyon, Ms Nancy Fox, Mr Stephen Parbery and Mr Michael Perry to the Energy Security Council.

The University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) has become a member of a new research consortium - the Green Touch™ Initiative - which brings together leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry players and researchers to fundamentally re-invent the network and reduce ICT energy consumption up to a factor of 1000.

Recruitment specialist Hays has released its January to March quarterly report into labour and skills demand, examining the ‘current hotspots of recruitment activity and trends’.

Queensland energy supplier Ergon Energy has announced it has entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with APA Diamantina Power station to supply energy to North-Western Queensland customers.

QR National and resources giant Rio Tinto have signed a 10 year performance based contract that will see  3 million tonnes of coal per annum moved from Rio Tinto's Blair Athol/ Clermont operations to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal (APCT).

The Federal Government has released a report analyzing the extent to which existing regulatory frameworks support action by major infrastructure sectors in adapting to climate change.

New Zealand’s Meridian Energy has announced it is withdrawing its applications for the development of the proposed windfarm development in Lammermoor Range in Central Otago, following a five year planning battle.

The Australian Energy Market Commission  (AEMC) has published an Issues Paper regarding Energy Market Arrangements for Electric and Natural Gas Vehicles.

Three major Chinese companies have joined The University of Western Australia and 15 other Chinese and Australian science and industry partners to develop new international collaborative approaches to energy and mining research.

The Victorian Government has announced its intentions to establish a Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) inquiry into determining the most appropriate regulatory framework that will encourage households and businesses to deliver renewable and low emissions energy into the grid, known as distributed power generation.

Japanese oil and gas company, INPEX Corporation and the French giant TOTAL S.A. have  confirmed the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the US$34 billion Ichthys LNG Project. The agreement was announced at a ceremony in Darwin, the site of the onshore gas processing facilities which will be built to produce 8.4 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per annum.

The Victorian Government has signed a new agreement with the City of Ballarat to investigate the options for a new bioenergy facility that will aim to convert organic waste into renewable energy.

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