ELECTRICITY use plunged during the second-coldest summer in more than 60 years but families will get no respite from power bills spiralling towards $2000 a year.
Power use during the cool and wet La Nina summer fell by more than 13 per cent compared with 2010-2011 as thousands of customers switched off airconditioners.
But because the price of electricity continues to soar, families face even higher charges – with the carbon tax adding a further 10 per cent to bills from July 1 this year.
Analysis of average annual bills showed Sydney families pay almost $600 more than three or four years ago, and in rural areas about $867 more. Surveys show 47 per cent of households have cut back on spending in other areas to pay rising power bills.
Power prices high and rising
Endeavour Energy yesterday revealed power consumed from its network dropped by 13.7 per cent during the first two months of summer compared with last year.
A spokesman said the mild weather, decreased use from industrial customers due to economic conditions and increased participation in energy efficiency programs were among the reasons for the fall.
Ausgrid, which supplies 1.6 million homes and businesses across Sydney, the Central Coast and Hunter, said energy use declined by about 7 per cent during December 2011 and January 2012 compared with the previous summer.
Ausgrid energy efficiency expert Paul Myors said the drop was driven by the mild weather and the uptake of energy efficiency programs.
“Greater use of solar and gas hot water systems, more energy efficient lighting and higher energy efficiency standards for appliances like fridges are making a difference,” Mr Myors said.
The average maximum temperature in NSW was 29.51C – 1.71C below average and the second coldest summer since records began in 1950, and the coldest since 1983-4.
Energy analyst Ben Freund from the free price comparison service GoSwitch.com.au said: “The people of NSW have used less electricity but they are not seeing it on their bills because the rates have increased by so much. There has been a noticeable change in consumer demand – people are not using as much because they see their bills going up.”
Alex Ward of Bonnet Bay in Sydney’s south said her bill covering December 2011 to March this year increased from $106.56 to $192.47 even though she consumed the same amount of power. “If the carbon tax gets up … then heaven help us,” she said .
Matthew O’Donnell from Cremorne on Sydney’s north shore said his quarterly bill rose from $245 to $890.