TWO chickens started Dr Kim Loo on her energy saving journey ... seven years on she has finally transformed her Baulkham Hills home into the perfect poster for energy conservation and sustainability.
Her electricity bill for the last quarter was a staggering $64 thanks to several simple changes she has made.
"I have been trying to reduce my electricity usage for years for ecological and financial reasons," she told the Times.
The mother-of two has slowly been upping her recycling and adding energy saving features.
Apart from getting two chickens, she planted a lot of fruit trees, vegetables and herbs and had a 4000L water tank installed.
"(It) is sitting on the eastern wall of my house which insulates our family room," she said.
"I changed my 45 halogen down lights to LED down lights (which) almost halved my power bill," she said.
Next was installing a pergola with a colour bond roof to the side of the family room to reduce the radiant heat to the northern aspect of the house.
Last year her electricity bill was $260 per quarter.
Dr Loo then installed 4 KWH of solar panels, a first generation 7 kWh Tesla battery with smart Reposit technology.
"The software helps my battery trade in the National Electricity Market. My battery negotiates in the market place and buys energy when it is cheap and sells when it is high.
"My house runs on the energy from the battery when the sun goes down."
Her mission now is to show people what can be done by "taking small steps" at a time.
"I have done it and so people can see they can do it themselves."
She is also keen on sustainability, hence the hens who provide both eggs and compost. They eat the food scraps and so do the guinea pigs who also earn their keep by keeping the lawn trimmed.
Her garden is fringed by fruit trees and she has raised beds of herbs and vegetables.
'I do work long hours but I love gardening.
"It's a lot of fun and it's such a good example to my kids."
Energy efficiency meets reality TV
There are numerous websites with useful tips on how to save on your energy consumption.
1) Unplug your appliances when they're not in use
Televisions, computers, microwaves and even some washing machines have a 'standby' mode, which means they're still using energy even when they're not in use.
2) Lower the default setting of your hot water tanks from 60C to 49C.
3) Buy appliances with a good energy rating
4) Use a cold water wash. For everyday loads of laundry,
5) Insulate your roof or ceiling
6) Draught-proof your home by making sure doors and windows are properly sealed
7) Replace lights with CFL or LED bulbs. Avoid installing downlights
8) Use exterior motion detector lights, and timers.
9) Close all external windows and doors (this is especially important when your heater or air conditioner is running).
10) Shade your windows during hot summer days this will help to keep the heat out, and on cold nights curtains or blinds help to keep the heat in.
11) Install ceiling fans Ceiling fans are much cheaper than air conditioning and have less impact environmentally.
12) Collected rainwater is ideal for watering your garden.