Energy Savvy Families slash their power use

The Energy Savvy Families program has helped Queensland residents lower their energy use and improve their energy literacy.

More than 4,000 Queensland households have received digital meters as part of the Energy Savvy Families program. The program also showed households how to reduce their energy consumption to save money and reduce their carbon emissions.

The Queensland government ran the 24-month program in partnership with Brisbane Sustainability Agency, Ergon Energy Retail and the Queensland Council of Social Service. Participants learned simple but effective ways to change their behaviour and attitudes towards significant energy sinks in their home – such as home heating and cooling, switching off lights and appliances and energy-efficient washing. Combined with access to energy monitoring software and switching to monthly billing, participants were empowered to be more in control of their energy bills.

The program also offered a face-to-face element through the Queensland Council of Social Service’s local champions, who helped participants access and use the tools in the program, ran bill-reading workshops, provided tips to help improve energy literacy, and advised of concessions and rebates available.

Overall, the Energy Savvy Families program helped participants to save an average of up to $120 over 12-months. These energy savings were equivalent to 1,252 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Overall, 84% of the participants would recommend this program to others.

Samantha Humes and her family were one of the many households who became more energy-savvy. “Before starting the program, we had to get extensions every single month to try to make sure our power stayed connected.” Now the family of four has learned new techniques to lower their electricity use and is saving more than $100 per month on their electricity bill.

The family also earned a helping hand to buy new energy-efficient appliances. Samantha was one of ten households to win a $1,500 appliance gift voucher after completing the program, including playing all three games in the Reduce Your Juice mobile app. The app is a fun and informative element of the overall program. “The games can make anything fun,” says Samantha. “Even learning to save electricity! We also learned the importance of family time, and taking the time to explain why these changes were important to our family.” 

Aside from the energy-efficient appliance vouchers, program participants had the chance to earn prizes such as smart power-boards which turn off appliances with a single button, and energy-efficient devices like solar phone chargers. Five households also received $500 energy efficient vouchers for sustaining their energy reduction behaviours over a six month period with reductions of more than 10% of their energy bills.

When joining the program, households were also given the opportunity to switch to a digital meter with a monthly bill, instead of a quarterly statement. By going digital, participants could use online tools to set budgets and track their power use. Regular emails from the Energy Savvy Families team provided further advice, tips and encouragement to households.

For Hope Soeter, switching to a monthly bill was beneficial to her finances and her mental health. “Switching to a monthly bill instead of a quarterly has been more effective for our budget. I no longer have to worry when we get our electricity bill,” she says. “I would highly recommend this program to young and growing families. I learned so much about the small ways to reduce energy in our house, which means a lot come bill time!”

The Skinner family agree that the program was a worthwhile experience. “It heightens your general awareness and is really good for those who struggle with their electricity bills,” says Leila. “I’ve had my power disconnected in the past and I’ve had to contact my provider and be put on a hardship program. There’s nothing worse. The whole Energy Savvy Families program has helped me make changes that really worked.”

While the Energy Savvy Families program has now concluded, energy saving tips can be still be found online.

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