Record hot streak for city
Endless summer: Twilight cricket at Port Beach. Picture: Michael Wilson/ The West Australian

Perth has sweltered through its hottest summer on record, enduring the longest streak of temperatures above 37C in its history.

On 21 days since December 1, the maximum temperature in the metropolitan area rose above 37C, beating the previous record of 19 days in the summer of 1971-72.

But despite the heat, power usage was down on previous years as the increased cost of living and desire to be energy efficient contributed to more residents turning down the air-conditioner thermostat.

Regardless of today's maximum temperature, figures from the Weather Bureau show Perth will break the 32C mean maximum temperature record set in 2010-11 and in 2012-13 it will likely settle close to 32.2C.

Christmas Day kicked off seven days of scorching temperatures above 37C - peaking at 42.1C on New Year's Eve, which was also the hottest day of summer.

City rainfall was well down on last summer's effort of 118.2mm, with only 28.2mm recorded over the past three months. Perth's dams are sitting at 27.4 per cent of capacity, holding 55.5 billion litres of water, down 22.95 billion litres on the same time last year.

A Water Corporation spokesman said Perth residents saved 11.6 billion litres of water from July last year through water efficiency, the equivalent of 5156 Olympic swimming pools.

Western Power attributed the downturn in electricity use to increased awareness of energy efficiency and increased use of solar power. This summer's peak demand of 3984 megawatts on February 12 was well down on last year's high of 4068MW. There were also no power outages this summer as a result of overloading.

Western Power system management general manager Cameron Parrotte said because the heat spells had occurred mainly over weekends, businesses had used less power for air-conditioners.

Households had also found it took little effort to be energy efficient and save money, he said.

"Our research has found that some people have saved over $200 a year through very simple actions like turning off lights and appliances when not in use and by using fans instead of air-conditioners," Mr Parrotte said.

Emu Creek in the Pilbara was WA's hottest summer spot with an average maximum temperature of 40.5C in the past three months while Albany was the coolest location with an average maximum temperature of 23.5C.

The warm weather is set to continue through autumn, with the Weather Bureau predicting that warm ocean temperatures along the WA coast would create a hotter and drier than average few months for the southern half of the State.

But the Pilbara and Gascoyne can expect a wetter than normal autumn, with a 60-65 per cent chance of receiving above average rainfall over the March to May period.

The West Australian

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