Encouraging energy efficiency through community learning

Image Australian Research Council
Image Australian Research Council

Residents throughout East Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory, have gained a better understanding of power and water efficiency practices.

Power and Water Corporation has run a trial energy efficiency program, Manymak Energy Efficiency Project, involving more than 500 households in six communities. In total, the Yolŋu Energy Efficiency Workers conducted 2772 visits across Milingimbi, Galiwin’ku, Yirrkala, Gunyangara, Gapuwiyak and Ramingining to seek household participation in the program and deliver energy and water efficiency education.

Houses received a range of technology retrofits such as a BEEBox energy monitor, an upgraded hot water system, stove timer or ceiling insulation. Eighty-four per cent of all eligible houses volunteered to be involved. Every participating household was visited at least twice, with an average of 4.4 visits per house.

In addition to household findings, evaluation of the project has shown that technologies such as the stove timer and hot water upgrades achieved substantial energy savings for residents.

Power and Water Corporation general manager regions and remote Len Griffiths said the trial has been successful in creating savings benefits for customers and developing a best practice model for energy efficiency engagement in remote communities.

“Local community members were employed as part of the project and provided with the education tools and technologies to help Yolŋu households make informed choices about using power and water in their homes,” he said.

“The results of the program have been promising and the relationships formed will create longer-lasting benefits for the residents in East Arnhem Land.”

Co-Researcher and local resident Shirley Nirrpurranydji attended a get-together with leaders from each of the six communities involved in the trial last week.

“In this project, we were able to understand each other Yolŋu to Yolŋu and we need to keep doing that to deal with the changes in our community,” she said.

The project was one of 20 across Australia to receive funding through the Australian Government’s Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP). LIEEP was launched nationally in 2012, seeking consortia to trial approaches to assist low-income households to become more energy efficient and capture data to inform future policies and programs. The NT’s Manymak project was the largest in Australia funded through LIEEP.

The project partners were Power and Water Corporation, Centre for Appropriate Technology, Charles Darwin University, NT Department of Housing and East Arnhem Regional Council.

The findings from the project will be used to inform future energy efficiency initiatives in remote communities across the Northern Territory.