The arrival of a power bill isn't usually greeted with much enthusiasm, but for 166 Marrickville families decreasing bills have been pointers to victory in the inaugural Sydney-wide Climate Clubs energy saving competition.
Teams from four Marrickville schools have collectively won the Climate Clubs Cup in a competition involving 12 schools from Blacktown, Manly and Marrickville.
Overall the Marrickville community saved 56,000 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2), or more than 1.1 million black balloons – the representation of 50g of carbon pollution used in the NSW Government's Save Power campaign.
Camdenville Public School had the best performing Climate Club, saving 13 per cent or 11,200 kg of CO2, equivalent to more than 200,000 black balloons to take home the Inner West Courier Shield. The other Marrickville teams were Wilkins Public School, Dulwich Hill Public School and Ferncourt Public School.
The Climate Clubs competition, which was piloted last year in the Inner West, was created by researchers at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) and supported by the NSW Government and Origin Energy.
ISF Research Director Chris Dunstan said the idea was that if Australians approached energy savings like they do sports, we'd be world champions at tackling climate change.
"Along with the obvious environmental benefits, these Marrickville families have slashed 10 per cent or nearly $11,000 off their household electricity bills in just six months," Dunstan said. "And for every unit of electricity they cut at home, their Parents and Citizens Association receives funds to put towards school projects.
"More than 460 households battled it out in the three rival suburbs, but our climate was the real winner on the day. By competing, students and their families have put newly learned power saving actions into practice."
Together, the families saved over $20,000 on energy bills by doing simple things like turning appliances off at the wall, reducing unnecessary power use like pool pumps in winter, improving door seals to keep heat in, drying washing outside, and reducing electric hot water use.
Players saw how simple actions could add up to a big difference when they entered their bills or meter readings into their own personal consumption tracker on the Climate Clubs website.
Together the 12 schools that entered the competition saved the equivalent of more than 2.2 million black balloons of greenhouse gases.
The average of household savings across Blacktown, Manly and Marrickville was 6 per cent, but some families achieved savings as high as 60 per cent.
"While the world has been grappling with new targets to cut carbon pollution at the UN Climate Change Conference in South Africa these families have just been getting on with the job," Dunstan said. "They have already seen results – many of our participating families have offset the forthcoming carbon price impact without raising a sweat."
The Climate Clubs Cup will be presented tomorrow to students at Camdenville Public School by the Mayor of Marrickville Morris Hanna and Roz Hall, Director of Business Partnerships and Community Programs at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
"Working together in teams and having fun, the next generation of decision-makers are learning how to be smart about energy consumption and that's knowledge that they will take with them into their careers and future life," Ms Hall said.