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Case Study: St Vincent de Paul Society

The St Vincent de Paul Society needed a more effective method of engaging low-income households as part of a home energy efficiency program.

  • The Vinnies’ team wanted to be able to engage with households about their energy use before their assessors conducted a home visit
  • They needed an intuitive, mobile-friendly tool that householders could use to better understand how they used utilities
  • The team wanted to be able to easily consolidate the data collected so they could measure the program’s outcomes

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The St Vincent de Paul Society’s reputation for helping Australians in need is well known.

That they are involved in the efforts to help low-income households be more energy efficient is no surprise.

More commonly known in Australia as Vinnies, the St Vincent de Paul Society is responsible for the delivery of the ACT government’s Home Energy Efficiency Program for low-income households, part of the ActSmart initiative, which aims to improve the energy efficiency of the region’s homes, buildings and appliances.

What was the business challenge?

Low-income households – such as those in government housing, students, single parents and renters – are more likely to experience financial distress related to their utility bills.

Linda Drumgold, the Team Leader and Energy Efficiency Officer for the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Energy Efficiency Program in the Canberra and Goulburn regions, is tasked with helping low-income households to engage with energy efficiency principles and think about how they use water, gas and electricity.

We use the forms as a way to help participants to engage with energy efficiency before we get there.

Linda’s team of energy efficiency assessors conduct home visits to talk to householders about how they can reduce their energy and water consumption.

By first sending out home self-assessments to low-income householders – Linda’s team uses Snapforms to gauge participants’ experiences with their energy use and how well they understand the way they consume water, gas and electricity.

“We use the forms as a way to help participants to engage with energy efficiency before we get there,” Linda explains.

How was the solution implemented?

Linda and her team are using Snapforms’ mobile-friendly online forms to make it as simple as possible for low-income households to develop a more nuanced understanding of their energy and water usage habits and the potential to change to more sustainable consumption.

It’s about trying to get the household more involved.

For Linda, it’s about driving engagement using technology – making it as simple as possible for people to recognise and better understand the role they and their homes play in energy and water usage.

“It’s about trying to get the household more involved,” Linda explains.

Her team sends households an online checklist that can be accessed on their phones or tablets. The checklist is similar to the Renters Home Energy Assessment Webtool, but tailored more towards low-income householders.

“Before Snapforms we would just fill out the questionnaire when we were with people at their homes.

“We had a basic form that went through what kind of heating they used, if they had a gas connection, and so on.

“It was just a Word doc on our laptops, which was then saved in the folder for that participant.”

The assessors would have to manually add the data into a database each time.

By adopting Snapforms’ digital solution, Linda’s team can now consolidate the data collected far more efficiently, making it easier to measure the program’s outcomes.

It’s very straight-forward and user-friendly.

Linda can easily and quickly check what percentage of their participants are engaging with energy efficiency. Her team also sends out a post-visit survey form to measure what elements of the program are being used, what people are engaging with specifically and how helpful it is.

“It also helps us get information from householders before our assessors go in.

“For example, the kind of curtains they have, if they have insulation – this saves assessors time because they know as much as possible about the house before they visit and are better prepared.

“It’s very straight-forward and user-friendly.

“Our admin person makes an appointment for us, creates a database entry and sends the Snapforms form out to the participant before we get out there.

“Then we get an email back when it’s been submitted and we can download it so we’ve got all the information before we show up to their house.

“Snapforms is really helpful having that workflow link – they can submit the form – our assessors go in – anything the householder couldn’t fill out or wasn’t sure of, our assessors can look at it and check – for example, You didn’t know if you had insulation, here’s how you can check.”

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