MICHELLE Thompson-Laing has slashed thousands of dollars from her home's power bill over the past 12 months.
The 33-year-old former paediatric audiologist, who currently works as a full-time mother, lives with her scientist husband on Sydney's northern beaches.
The couple has three young sons - aged 10 months, four and six - and they moved their growing family into a new home about a year ago.
Mrs Thompson-Laing did plenty of research while preparing her household budget.
"We moved from a small duplex into a large house, so I asked the agent if they'd mind finding out how much the power bills were," she told news.com.au.
"I nearly had a heart attack. I couldn't believe it was $1800 to $2000 a quarter. When we moved in, I was like 'Right, we're going to have to do everything possible to cut it down'."
Over the past 12 months, she said her power bills have ranged from about $420 to $600 a quarter, depending on the season.
Her total savings come to approximately $5400.
Their home is full of downlights, and Mrs Thompson-Laing said her first step was switching them all from high-energy halogen globes to efficient LEDs.
"The only thing that cost us money was changing the lights over; a lot of things come down to the way you use the home," she said.
She's spent a lot of time finding ridiculously simple ways to cut costs.
"It's just basic habits, we make sure we switch off all the lights, switch off the appliances. We stay in one room at a time - we don't have the lights on in one room, the computer on in another room, and the TV on in a bedroom.
"The house has four air conditioners, and I don't know if [the previous occupants] had them all running at once. There's even an airconditioner in the shed, who wants to pay for that? We keep the house at a reasonable temperature."
After all, she said, it's cheaper to put on a jumper than turn up a heater.
Mrs Thompson-Laing keeps the fridges and freezer stocked, so she's not wasting power cooling empty space, and she doesn't run the dishwasher unless it's fully packed.
She researched peak and off-peak times, and sets the washing machine on a timer so it runs during the cheapest part of the day.
"I have three kids so everything runs, but it's just being reasonable about it. We don't stick things in the dryer unless they absolutely have to be dried. We don't have the airconditioning going if it's not that hot.
"We also make sure all our appliances are energy efficient. We spent a bit more on them initially, but it's starting to pay off."
She and her husband also shopped around for energy providers.
They're currently with a company called Alinta, which started as a small Western Australian gas distributor in 1995 and has grown into one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in the country.
Mrs Thompson-Laing simply said: "It was the cheapest we could find".
"Previously we were with another company, and we had a really good deal, but when that ended of course they didn't say anything about it. Our next bill went up, so we left."
Her tips are straightforward and simple, and she said anyone can do it.
"There's nothing special about this."
Michelle Thompson-Laing writes about parenting, organising, cooking and budgeting on her blog, Keep Calm Get Organised.
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