Sustainable Living

Future Powered Families

This three-year behaviour change program helped low-income households save energy, particularly migrant and refugee families. Reaching more than 6100 people, Future Powered Families was a finalist in the 2016 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

Victorian winters are cold. But some people’s winters are colder than others. If you’re on a low income and in a poor quality home, paying power bills can be a choice between a cold house and spending less on food. If you’re also a migrant or refugee, you may never have seen information in your own language about saving energy, or even how energy billing works in Australia.

From 2013 to 2016, Environment Victoria’s Future Powered Families project helped people from diverse backgrounds to reduce their energy use, saving greenhouse gas emissions and power bills at the same time. It worked with low-income households across Victoria, from farming families on the edge of the state to Indian families in flats in Craigieburn. Most participants were migrant or refugees.

Using a ‘peer-to-peer’ approach, the project trained members of culturally diverse communities to educate their own family and friends. They visited thousands of homes and between them, and participants spoke 139 languages. Altogether the project reached 6133 people. After taking part, people who received home visits were using 10 percent less energy than they would have otherwise. Together, these households are now saving 45.5 million litres of water, 2792 tonnes of greenhouse gases, $476,000 on electricity bills and $116,000 on water bills, every year. A great result in any language!

Read more in the summary report below.


Download the report summary (PDF).

Dina's story

Dina, a mother of three children under five years old, was using showers as her ‘alone’ time. “I’m from Egypt, where water is very cheap because of the Nile. I liked to relax in the shower, sometimes over 30 minutes,” says Dina.
By using a shower timer, Dina reduced her showers to four minutes. Now her husband and children are doing the same, saving water and money. “My water bill changed a lot, about $100 less. The timer really helps me to save.”

Dina, Future Powered Families participant

Thanks to everyone involved

Future Powered Families was funded by the Department of Industry and Science as part of the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program. The project had many partners, including ecoMaster, Swinburne University, The Smith Family, Volunteering Western Victoria, Yarra, Darebin, Brimbank, Latrobe, Hume and Hindmarsh councils. Thank you to everyone involved in making this a big success.