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With a brand new technique and a few simple devices, it's easy to shrink your power bills by a quarter, to half of your current bills – permanently.

The CSIRO has come up with the best idea yet -- recruiting volunteers to lead and supervise small groups of householders, neighbours and friends, on multiple ways to save money on power and lighten their carbon footprints -- doing it together. It's called the Energymark Program.

Once Annette Gillies cut her own power bills virtually in half, she joined the CSIRO to be a group leader, inspiring others to do the same. "You gather a few people you know around the table, and the knowledge you will gain is just so confidence boosting, you can change your life", Annette said.

"An average family can save at least five hundred dollars a year", said Diana Chouquette.

Diana's magic weapon -- called Cent-a-meter – is priced at $125. The mother of three's electricity bills last quarter dropped from $404 to $328, almost 20% saving, first try. Now she's an Energymark group leader aiming to slash her bills in half. "Anytime someone turns on an appliance it tells me how much energy we are using", Diana said.

The kettle goes on and the Cent-a-meter goes up, from 3 cents to 66 cents, adding to her electricity bill's running total of $334.55.

The clothes dryer is one of the biggest power guzzlers, costing at least $300 a year. Diana has a solution – "I take my clothes and put them in the dryer for only 8 minutes and that is all it takes to take the wrinkles out and I can hang them up directly on my indoor clothes-line and you don't have to iron them, there's no need", she said.

That saves her $275 a year just in clothes drying; $100 on ironing costs that's $375 saved.

Older Fridges and too full fridges are power wasters. Annette's saving at least another $70 a year. "When you fill it up and throw out half of it the poor old fridge is going overtime", she said.

"We have also installed blinds which are tight fitting so they keep the sun out, but moreover, they keep the heat in in the winter. My eco-glass is two sheets of glass with a film in between -- great insulation in the winter", Diana said.

Window protection cuts heating and aircon bills up to half -- saving at least $400 a year -- and gas heating is half the cost of electric.

When you're not using your appliances, the device which costs $50 to $100 dollars, turns off the stand-by power, which can save you at least $100 a year.

"In the backyard is a mini power station. It is a ceramic fuel cell, it is generating electricity from natural gas and is actually producing three times the electricity this house uses on any given day", said energy efficiency expert, Paul Myros.

The family has easily slashed $700 off their power bills in the Department of Energy's Smart House which is trialling lots of high tech gizmos. Paul says many will be in our future houses. "It looks like a standard pergola, but it is actually a solar generator that is giving us half a kilowatt of electricity and the cells are mounted on a glass panel, so we are getting nice filtered light through", Paul said.

"Like all new technology, the LED lights, the new types, they'd be expensive to buy wouldn't they but you need to keep in mind that they use only 20% of energy of standard lights and they last for twenty years", Paul said.

That saves $90 a year in electricity.

All appliances are designed for maximum energy and water efficiency, even down to the toaster, the eco kettle and the flat-top gas stove. "If you start saving now you are saving every year after that", Diana said.

For further information:
CSIRO Energymark Program
email Energymark@csiro.au or call 1300 119 003

Energy Australia Smart home

Clipsal: Cent a Meter

The sophisticated PowerShield THEATREGUARD will turn all equipment off as if the outlet on the wall was being switched off taking it off standby mode. As you know, standby does not mean off because the equipment continues. www.rkcable.com.au/powershield.htm

EcoGlass is an Australian owned glass manufacturer and distributor www.ecoglass.com.au