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WA homes cutting power use
WA homes cutting power use

The average WA household's electricity use has peaked and is in decline for the first time as the impact of higher prices forces families to adjust their energy consumption habits.

Synergy data obtained exclusively by _The Weekend West _shows that power consumption exploded throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Not only was extra consumption driven by natural population growth, but each individual household consumed more power as householders rushed to plug in a surge of cheap imported electronic goods.

But average household energy use peaked in 2010 and declined in 2011.

With power prices - which have already leapt 57 per cent in three years - set to rise again with this month's State Budget and the looming introduction of the carbon tax, the Barnett Government will next month launch a campaign aimed at helping households to become more energy efficient.

Wembley teachers assistant Lindy Done took part in in a five-week pilot program in November that saw her and partner Mark slash their electricity consumption - and their power bill - by almost a third.

The program set the couple different challenges each week, for example switching off all electric appliances like TVs and computers at the wall rather than leaving them on standby, or not using a dishwasher.

"We had candlelit dinners, it was quite fun," Ms Done said.

The couple installed a smart meter that allowed them to track their power use in real time and switched to smart power, which charges cheaper tariffs for power in off-peak times.

They had access to an "eco-coach" who gave power-saving tips, as well as an online forum where other participants in the trial could compare notes.

Energy Minister Peter Collier said declining household consumption was a natural result of "significant and necessary" electricity price rises but uptake of solar power had also contributed to the decline.

"From an Energy Minister's perspective, if people are using less electricity it means they are saving money on their electricity bills, which is very welcome for all concerned," Mr Collier said.

"Consistently increasing consumption patterns requires increasing levels of public investment in electricity infrastructure in order to maintain pace with demand, which ultimately increases pressure on prices."

Shadow energy minister Bill Johnston said there was no question power prices had to rise, but he attacked the Government for doing it so quickly.

"After campaigning on keeping prices lower during the election, they broke that promise and did in three years what we promised to do in seven years," he said.