Tell us a bit about yourself and your household. What was it like before you started the program?
A. I'm a mother of five, right now I have four children living with me full time. We have a very busy household. Before I did the program I was paying roughly $60 a fortnight upfront for my electricity and praying that it was enough money to cover it.
I was really lazy when it came to electricity use. The air conditioner would go on in my bedroom and would run flat chat all summer. Even if it was a little bit cool we wouldn't open the windows. And even on hot summer days we'd still use the clothes dryer.
What are the top things you learned from doing the Energy Savvy Families program?
A. Well, I learnt the power of the sun is amazing because I chose not to have a clothes dryer anymore. Now we hang absolutely everything out on the clothesline. I'm in a high-set house, so if it's raining I have clothes lines set up underneath my house as well.
And I also have airers over the door for stuff if I do a late load of washing and it's clothes that the children need in the morning. I'm saving a fair amount of dosh by not using a dryer. I had to walk downstairs to put clothes in the dryer anyway, so now it just goes on the line.
I learnt other things like turning off all the fans if I'm not home. The air con is unplugged and probably won't be turned down until the end of November, and even then I've changed the temperature setting on it and I won't run it for as long as we have been.
The only thing that's running 24/7 in my house now is the fridge. We have gas for our cooking and hot water, so that's not a factor on our electricity bill.
You live in a hot climate. How did you find your comfort level using the air conditioning less?
We open the windows for starters, have the fans on. It's amazing how well the fans work if you keep them clean, too. The dust on them creates wind resistance. They work a lot better once they're clean.
How about the stand-by power use of appliances. Did you learn anything there?
A. I was lucky enough to win two prize packs throughout the program and they included some smart power boards. So my TV and Xbox and stuff are hooked up to one of them, and I gave one to my parents and one to my sister as well. I really like it and we've all noticed a bit of difference there in our energy use.
My kids now walk around and flip off the fans in the morning, they help hang out the washing. Generally, if it's not in use they turn it off. It'd become second nature to them.
Did your kids get involved in the program? How did you get them interested?
A. We started with letting them play the Reduce Your Juice games on my phone. They thought it was fantastic. We all liked the washing line game, that was the most fun, with that character Darth Dryer. We're a household of nerds anyway, so anything that says "Darth" must be cool. My kids now walk around and flip off the fans in the morning, they help hang out the washing. Generally, if it's not in use they turn it off. It'd become second nature to them.
In terms of savings, how much money have you been saving on your bill since you completed the program?
A. My most recent monthly bill was $55, the one before that was about the same, and the one before that was $40. Compare that with last year, where I was paying well over $100 a month in the summer and $80-$90 the rest of the time.
Anything else you want to add about your experience with the program?
A. It just heightens your general awareness. It's good for those who struggle with their electricity bills. There's nothing worse then getting the dreaded letter saying you're about to be disconnected. I'll be honest, I've struggled and had my power disconnected in the past. I've had to contact my provider to be put on a hardship program. The whole Energy Savvy Families thing has helped me become more aware and make some changes that worked.