While a cup of chicken soup and a warm blanket never go astray when the mercury drops, energy efficiency is a constant battle for many households.
For the past couple of years the University of Wollongong has been conducting research into how energy can be made more cost effective for low income senior citizens.
The Energy+Illawarra Project is a community minded project that uses social marketing intervention to encourage participants to use energy more efficiently.
Intial research conducted as part of the project suggested that elderly people were suffering falls in the dark trying to save electricy and were sacrifcing comfort in winter due to heating costs.
30 research participants from the Milton-Ulladulla area, along with 800 others in the Illawarra, were randomly selected to participate in the project.
Information including newsletters, videos and remote control power switches were distributed to support participants in becomming more energy efficient and live more comfortably in their homes.
Some participants received just advice and information on how to bring costs down, keep themselves warm and dispelling energy myths, while others were randomly selected to have energy efficiency mechanisms installed at their homes.
Ulladulla resident, Gordon Ross, was also randomly selected along with five other participants to be part of the free home energy efficiency installation program.
“We got involved after the university team called and asked if we’d participate and then they had a look at the house to see what they could do to warm and cool it,” Gordon said.
“Because the house is raised they’ve put bats underneath it so the cold won’t come up.
“We haven’t had a winter yet since they were installed but we hope it will make a big difference,” he said.
At the end of the winter, the project team will come back and measure the difference in energy usage to determine whether the methods were effective.
So far, the evidence suggests that people who have been exposed to the social marketing intervention aspect of the project have higher comfort levels than they did previously.
Energy+Illawarra Project leader, Ross Gordon said he hopes the project will lead to older people becoming more aware of their energy usage, and more comfortable.
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