Air-con power bills surge

The West AustralianAustralians’ love affair with cheap air-conditioners have been blamed for the nation’s soaring power bills amid warnings that electricity costs will have to go up even more.

More than 1.7 million air-conditioners were installed in homes across the country between 2005 and this year as people took advantage of a sharp fall in prices.

But the Federal Government’s energy White Paper, released yesterday, reveals that while a two kilowatt reverse-cycle air-conditioner might cost $1500, the true cost to the power grid is closer to $7000.

While some of that cost is picked up by the homeowner, a lot is borne by everyone else whose power bills go up to make sure electricity can be supplied.

It is this peak demand – when a lot of electricity is supplied for short periods – that is putting stress on the national grid.

It is estimated the system will need $240 billion of upgrades over the next 18 years.

The White Paper found consumers did not have enough information about the true cost of their electricity demand and urged the rollout of so-called smart meters.

The meters, being introduced in Victoria, show households how much energy they are using by the minute and the cost.