Free workshops help to save money

By Amy Diamond

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Nik Gregg, Sustainability Options co-founder, talks with Craig Parsons who attended the workshop. Photo/John Borren
Nik Gregg, Sustainability Options co-founder, talks with Craig Parsons who attended the workshop. Photo/John Borren

Tauranga's Craig Parsons has always been energy conscious and knows the importance of sustainability.

He was one of several Tauranga residents to take up the offer of a free workshop to learn how to be more sustainable and how to save money.

Sustainability Options was created by brothers Nik and Phil Gregg who have a passion for environmental care.

They hosted the first of several free sustainability workshops at Tauranga City Library this week. The aim of the workshop was to provide tips on living a sustainable life, reducing bill woes.

Mr Parsons said he went to see what new ideas were out there to better his home.

"Being energy efficient is not always cheap, but it's a good thing to look into if people are in the developing stage of their home."

Mr Parsons said he had invested in his home, and solar panels had saved him money in the long run.

The Gregg brothers started the business in August 2012, when they saw a need to give people free advice on improving their sustainability practices.

Nik Gregg said there were many small changes people could make to help save money.

"The number one thing people need to be aware of is their power bills", he said.

"Start with your power bill, know where you are using the power and know what it is you're paying for."

He said 60 per cent of power bills were for heating, something many people could improve on.

Mr Gregg said people's behaviour and the way they "drove their homes" was a big issue in making homes more energy efficient.

Small changes such as closing curtains to keep in heat, turning off lights and making an effort to keep the fridge door closed were small actions which Mr Gregg said would pay off long term.

The brothers offer free in-home consultations, personalised advice Mr Gregg said these visits were valuable in highlighting wastage.

"We waste approximately 86 per cent of the energy we produce, that's about $8 billion in wastage."

Mr Gregg believed water was a "precious resource" and was a major area in which people could save money.

There was the potential to save up to 20,000 litres of water a year by watching the wastage of heated water. This could be through the use of hot water timers or altering pressure.

Food waste minimisation was another important way people could lead a more sustainable life. According to Mr Gregg 30 per cent of all waste was food scraps. He said by looking into recycling and worm farms waste could be minimised in all homes.

It was important to educate young children in good recycling practices.

Mr Gregg said children were educated at school on how to recycle, but if their parents did not recycle at home then they did not think it was valuable.

Tauranga City Council sustainability adviser Michelle Elborn said free workshops were important for the community.

"We want to provide free information around improving the sustainability of local homes."

Ms Elborn said this was the first of the Sustainability Options workshops and there would be more around the Tauranga area.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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