Energy savings for the environment and household budgets

Earth Hour celebrates its tenth anniversary this year on Saturday 25 March. Launched in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has become a global movement with an estimated 100 million people and businesses in 172 countries now taking part. It was designed to bring attention to the effects of climate change by asking people to switch off lights at their homes and businesses for one hour.

An initiative that is allowing people to reduce their ecological footprint beyond Earth Hour is the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS), a microfinance loan scheme coordinated by Good Shepherd Microfinance for people on low incomes to purchase new, energy efficient appliances.

The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW (Vinnies) is a NILS provider in 10 locations across the state. NILS has no fees, no interest and no charges.

CEO Jack de Groot understands the savings NILS offers to people who would otherwise use faulty white goods that are frequently energy guzzlers, contributing to the goals of Earth Hour.

“We have been able to significantly reduce the energy consumption of people who come to us for a microfinance loan through the NILS,” said Mr de Groot.

“This program is offered to people who need to buy a heater or fridge and since we joined the program in August 2016, we have loaned our clients approximately $3,704,104.”

“Offering NILS loans means they can buy essential white goods without sinking into debt by borrowing from pay-day lenders. At the same time, more efficient items will lower their energy costs. It is an easy way to support them to take steps towards mitigating climate change at a household level. In a small way we’re helping to provide part of the solution.”

Joy Webster, Good Shepherd Microfinance Manager for NSW/ACT said: “Research has shown that climate change is having a disproportionate impact on people on low incomes. The average electricity debt has risen from $529 in June 2014 to $631 in June 2015 (according to the Australian Energy Regulator) and its impact is significantly harder on low-income earners.

“NILS is part of the Home Energy Action Program through which the NSW Government aims to collectively reduce energy bills for low income households by $2.8 million per year. This will avoid approximately 11,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.”

To check your eligibility for a NILS loan visit: