Money saver: The Energy Detective helps monitor how much electricity a house or business uses. *Photo supplied
Money saver: The Energy Detective helps monitor how much electricity a house or business uses. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, JAN. 20: It wasn’t quite like a kid on Christmas morning waiting to up open presents, but I was eagerly anticipating my BELCO bill.

Okay, I know that’s not normal to be looking forward to receiving a bill from the energy company.

But since I am taking part in the Energy Limbo: How Low Can you Go contest sponsored by the Department of Energy, I wanted to see if my energy usage had dropped.

So last week when I received my BELCO bill I ripped it open to see what the results were.

My energy usage from December 2011 compared to December 2010 dropped by 20kwh per day. It went from 52.41kwh per day to 32.58kwh per day.

December wasn’t an official month for the contest, which starts proper in January for February’s bill, but it was a good sign my wife and I are on the right track.

So what did we do differently?

All the homes in the contest have been outfitted with The Energy Detective, a metering device that shows real-time use of electricity.

This has helped us be more conscious about turning off lights, heaters and other items if we are not using them.

That’s basically it.

We didn’t run the Christmas lights on the tree this year, but that’s mainly due to me not putting the tree up until a few days before Christmas.

Having said that I now feel like a bit of an energizer waster because the answer was so simple.

That doesn’t mean there’s not more room to make improvements.

Without running heaters all over the house, I’ve found my home is a bit drafty so the windows and doors need to be sealed better to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer.

How that will compare to other people participating in the contest, I’m not sure, but I don’t expect to see a 20kwh per loss every month, but hopefully, it will help my wife and I reduce our bills so we can spend that money elsewhere.

It’s expected to be a launch meeting for the contest next week with participants being able to ask questions and get more information about the contest.

How low can you go?

This is an energy cutback competition, which sees participants compete for the biggest reduction in their electricity use over the course of almost a year.

There are just over 20 people who are competing in the challenge, which features a $600 travel voucher as the grand prize.

Beside myself, Marc Bean, Environment Minister, Director of Energy Jeane Nikolai and Permanent Secretary for the Environment, Dr Derrick Binns, will also be taking part, but they will only be passive participants rather than competitors.

Before the competition starts in January, the Department will supply and install an electronic energy meter into participants’ homes.

This meter will provide real-time info about electricity consumption on competitors’ computers.

Every month contestants will check in with Department of Energy staff to share their electric bills, which will then be compared with participants’ historical data to assess progress.