Environmentally-minded Ballarat residents are taking control of their electricity bills by making their homes more energy efficient.
It is a movement where residents are sharing their eco ideas that have saved them dollars - with a focus on changes that are accessible to all. Some are as simple as stopping draughts.
Long-time Ballarat Renewable Energy Zero Emissions members Joe Boin and John Petheram shared their tips on how to save money on your electricity bills, do your bit for the environment and be more comfortable in your home at a Smart Living Ballarat talk on Wednesday.
Around 40 people joined the session and walked away armed with a DIY home energy audit instruction sheet and a feeling of empowerment to improve their homes with ideas for renters, old home owners and builders.
Here's the breakdown.
Mr Boin says shading over windows can prevent heat entering in summer. Shade can be achieved with a small eve around the roof of the house, bushes and trees in gardens or the installation of a shade cloths and pergolas.
Replace old lights with LEDs. If you are renting, keep the old lights, replace them when you leave and you can take your LEDs with you.
Mr Boin warns the worst culprits for drafts are doors and windows, but these can easily be sealed with a DIY draft stopper.
"Sealing a door with a flexible plastic strip at the bottom is something a renter or anyone can do that doesn't cost much. You'll soon save the money that costs you in the heating and cooling bill," he says.
Mr Petheram's top tip is to hold a burning incense stick at corners of doors and windows on a windy day to identify where draughts are getting in.
The ceiling fan in the bathroom is one place you might not think to check. Mr Boin says you can buy a draught stopper (or make one out of cardboard) that sits on top of the fan that allows air to get out when it is switched on but stops draughts when it is off.
Mr Boin says draught stopping was the most valuable change he has made to his home - and it was also the easiest and cheapest.
Mr Petheram says most rooms lose a lot of heat through windows.
Did you know double glazing could be a DIY job?
Mr Petheram showed examples of ways to clip on another layer of glass to your window or use a DIY window insulation kit to reduce heat loss.
Or there is the option of spending more to have a whole window replaced with double or triple glazing.
Mr Petheram says he is often asked the question 'what is it going to cost and what will be the savings?'.
"A square metre window in my house with double glazing saves me about $25 a year. That is savings in terms of the heating I don't have to do," he says.
"If you have 10 square metres that is $250 in our kitchen and lounge every year. DIY double glazing cost me $100 per square metre so that is four years until it is repaid."
Energy efficient appliances are easy to identify when purchasing new with clear markings of energy start ratings.
For older appliances, it is easy to check if they are running effectively - like making sure the fridge is sealing properly, or only turning on the bar fridge when you need it.
In terms of heating and cooling, Mr Boin says reverse cycle is the most efficient.
Mr Boin and Mr Petheram use a thermal imaging camera to identify where heat is escaping in their homes.
Mr Boin found heat was escaping through the man hole, so he glued insulation to it.
He has also found putting down a rug helps prevent heat escaping through floorboards.
Mr Petheram says the most valuable change he made to his home was improving ceiling insulation and double glazing windows.
"It is doable," he says.
"It does take time. But you can work with tradesman and suppliers to do some of the work yourself."
You can contact BREAZE for more advice.