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Their enthusiasm's contagious - and that's the idea. It's a project set up by the CSIRO, called Energymark, and it is helping thousands of families become super power-savers.

Volunteer group leaders like Greg Olsen says, "In 2009 our electricity bill was over twelve hundred dollars. Today it's eight hundred", he said.

And Diana Choquette, who said, "We've gone a long way. By doing the audit we know exactly how much we were spending and how much we were using".

They're recruiting everyday -- more householders, neighbours, friends, people they've never met, brainstorming ways to save power and money and lighten their carbon footprint.

For what would cost less than $5000 today, Greg Olsen's investment in a solar hot water system and photovoltaic panels and other saving strategies have revolutionised his energy costs -- they actually earn him money, "We earn seventeen hundred from our panels, so we actually get paid $900 for supplying electricity to the grid", Greg said.

Dianna has installed new lights. "They are LED lights, they are the latest lights and they will last for twenty years, They use hardly any energy at all, so once they're in, you don't have to worry about them. They put out an enormous amount of light and are so good, I've bought two more for other parts of the house", she said.

Last time we talked to Diana, the electricity bills in her large family home, once she got onto the Energymark project, dropped from $404 to $328 a quarter -- almost 20% savings first try.

Now she's trying other techniques and saving a clear 20%. Here's how she and her group are doing it. "I run my dishwasher at 6 o'clock in the morning. I do it then because that's off-peak, and I only pay 8 cents per kilowatt hour versus 38 cents at peak-time. And I only run the dishwasher when it's absolutely full", she said.

Some people don't know, just because you're not using that air-conditioner, it's actually using energy all the time -- unless you turn it off at your meter", she added.

"As winter is approaching, I just get the kids to wear more clothes inside the house. I don't turn the heating on until 5 o'clock at night and I make sure that it turns off at 10 o'clock at night", Dianna said.

"Every house has a draft. It's finding them and putting something across
them or changing windows, changing doors, putting in blinds, tight fitting blinds and curtains", she said.

"I do my washing at 6am. Again, off-peak only paying 9 cents per kilowatt hour and I only do a load when it is full. And the dryer, I rarely use it. When I do use it, I put the clothes in only for 8 minutes and then I hang them up immediately and I don't have to iron them", Dianna said.

Diana's $125 Centameter monitors her power consumption. Restricted dryer use saves $275, ironing $100 - $375 a year saved. On the Energymark project, so far in 2011 her bills have come to $621, instead of $777 for the same period last year, $156 saved in just months. "I'm actually spending 20% less on electricity this year than I did last year at the same time", she said.

And there is another energy saving breakthrough for Greg. "It's ground-breaking actually. It's the solar clothes dryer -- it saves hundreds of dollars a year by using the free sun", he said.

Greg's advocating back-to-basics-- compost bin, worm farm, shared neighbour's vegie garden and rainwater tank and inside, unplugging appliances not in use. "In winter time we take off the shade-cloth and the sun comes in. We then close the curtains which keeps the heat in. We don't have to use a heater most of the time", Greg said.

Nor air-conditioning -- saving Greg at least $400 a year. And lights -- LEDs use one fifth of the energy of standard globes, saving $90 a year in electricity.

"You can knock off ten percent off your energy bill just like that", said Ben Freud from GoSwitch.

Ben Freud says 50% of households are paying far too much. GoSwitch helps you find the best rates, instantly swap to the cheapest company and save literally hundreds of dollars a year. "In Victoria consumers can save up to five hundred dollars a year. In NSW it's more like $200, same thing in Queensland and South Australia. If you're paying more than you have to, you are donating money to a power company. You may as well find a charity and donate to that", Ben said.


  • GoSwitch
    Phone 1300 10 70 74

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