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Windows and doors are usually things we open, close and walk in and out of. But have you considered their energy saving qualities? Replacing windows and doors can really reduce those soaring energy bills. But when it comes to choosing more energy-efficient options, consumers are overwhelmed with the choice. The technology, terminology and options on the market today can be a minefield. Read on to discover 5 practical tips for making energy savings this year.

Information is your ammunition

Homeowners should arm themselves with the right information for making good choices with all the options in mind. This is especially true as energy costs continue to climb dramatically. The the savings from replacing single-panel with energy-efficient windows ranges from $125 to $340 a year for a typical home.
Since this is the time of year homeowners start on renovation and home projects, here are five practical tips for selecting the most energy-efficient windows and doors for your home.

Install double-glazed windows

Choose double-glazed windows to control the amount of heat transferred through the window and prevents heat loss in the winter.

Energy efficient glass – Low-e Glass

Enquire about windows and glass doors, which also include energy efficient glass. Technology has really changed the way we conserve energy.
Here’s how low-e glass works:

Source: Weiyaoglass.com

Watch how they’re made

There are actually doors with energy-efficient cores, sills and frames that provide a barrier to energy exchange. Double-glazed and Low-E glass ensures windows and doors are sealed and energy efficient. For example, over time, steel doors made with polystyrene maintain energy ratings better than doors made with polyurethane.

Understand energy ratings

You can learn about energy ratings at energyrating.gov.au. Make sure the windows and doors you install meet the standards and so you purchase the best ones for the job.

Focus on efficiency, not fancy features

Manufacturers achieve efficiency in different ways. No matter the technology, one of the easiest ways to identify the most energy-efficient products is to simply look at the star rating.
Do you have some great energy-saving tips? Be sure to leave your thoughts in comments below.
 
 

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Summer is here and though you might be wrapped up in Christmas stuff right now, you might want to take a moment to think about the impending heat. And if you remember summer last year, you may recall that some days were simply not pretty. Although you may have some quick fixes up your sleeve (i.e heading to the beach) there’s nothing more important than a cool house in which to lay on a dizzy and hot head on a sweltering day.
But fear not, it’s my job to deliver you super quick tips on just about everything. So here’s how to fix the pesky issue of overheating this summer using some nifty tricks around the home.
Read on to discover my 10 proven ways to cool your house for summer.

1. External roller tilt shutters

Blinds have come a long way and Roller Tilt Shutters from companies like Giamar have some unique features that can’t be found in other shutters on the market. In short, these are external blinds with slats which adjust to your desired angle. Benefits include a tilt control feature that allows homeowners to manage both noise and light coming into the home. They are suitable for both winter and summer and are extremely energy efficient, as well as providing the benefit of complete privacy. Learn more about Giamar Roller Tilt Shutters here.

2. Adjustable and aluminum louvres

Louvres are a popular option because they make a statement in terms of style. They are suitable for areas such as enclosing a spa, balcony, veranda, patio, deck or pergola. Other uses include garage balustrading, carport screens, windows and outdoor enclosures, such as if you want to hide those ugly rubbish bins. These have multiple win-win purposes aside from style, which include offering privacy, sun control (heating and cooling) and security. Learn more about Giamar Privacy Screens and Sun Control Louvres here.

3. Plant trees around your home

In terms of long term planning when it comes to cooling, consider planting trees on the north side of your home or where you feel the heat is strong. Make sure you seek advice on this to make sure you also maximise light while still blocking direct sunlight.

4. Install insulation

If your home is not insulated I highly recommend doing this. A good time to insulate your home is during spring and autumn. Firstly, installers are easier to book and their prices will be lower than in the peak winter and summer months. Another good option to consider is installing an air vent in your roof, so that hot air can escape. These two measures will drastically reduce the temperature in your home.

5. Air Conditioning

While air conditioning is an obvious way to cool a home, it’s important to consider the cost of running an air conditioner all summer. If you can’t live without air conditioning, be sure to set the thermostat to a lower temperature. This one measure can save you thousands on those ever-increasing and exorbitant electricity bills. If you don’t have an air-conditioner and are considering one – again, prepare to install one in off-peak seasons and you’ll reap some benefits from seasonal discounts.
Need more tips on keeping cool this summer? Read my article: 50 Weird and Wonderful Ways To Stay Cool This Summer

6. Employ a fan and use it wisely

Use fans to create through-breezes in your home. Fans are a quick and short-term way to cool down while sitting in front of the telly or lounging around reading a book. You can improve the effect of a fan using various measures such as hanging an ice cold towel near the fan to make the breeze cooler or putting a fan facing out of a window to push warm air out. Note: Be sure to turn fans off while not in use or risk a higher electricity bill.
Do you have some proven ways to cool your home? Leave your thoughts in comments below.
 
 
 

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If you’ve ever stepped inside a mall or supermarket on a stinking hot day you will understand the beauty of air-conditioning. Aside from a dip in a pool or a splash in the waves the beach, air-conditioning is a grand invention indeed. For most people, Investing in a highly economical air conditioner is a no-brainer for summer and an easy way to fight the summer heat or a potential heat wave. There are other weird and wonderful ways to stay cool too, and I’ve gathered them all up in one neat little cheat sheet. Read on to discover 100 weird and wonderful ways you can keep yourself and the family cool this summer.
Note: I recommend printing this cheat sheet out, laminating it and popping it on the fridge for quick reference during summer!

Thinking of investing in an air-conditioning system?

If you are thinking of investing in a good air-conditioning system, Brivis are a reputable and well-regarded company in Australia. Check out the Brivis website for information on air-conditioning and available systems.

50 weird and wonderful ways to stay cool this summer

  1. Sit in front of a fan
  2. Use ceiling fans more effectively by setting them to run anti-clockwise
  3. Invest in a highly economical air conditioner
  4. Use cotton over polyester sheets
  5. Put ice water in a spray bottle and spritz yourself
  6. Use an old-fashioned paper hand fan when working or just sitting around
  7. Apply wet flannels or towels to your extremities
  8. Spend time in air-conditioned places e.g. library, malls or movie theatres
  9. Plan adventures to cool places when you know there’s going to be a heat wave
  10. Consider investing in a slushier maker for the kids
  11. Carry a water bottle with you at all times to stay hydrated
  12. Drink a nice cup of tea – apparently drinking a hot beverage reduces your body temperature
  13. Fill a hot water bottle with water and freezer
  14. Dampen down sheets before sleeping – place on top of you
  15. Wet clothes (i.e a t-shirt) or sleep in cool attire
  16. Apply ice packs to wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles and behind the knees
  17. Stay hydrated – drink water
  18. Sleep lower to the ground since hot air rises
  19. Move your mattress close to the air conditioner
  20. Hang a wet sheet on an open window
  21. Place feet in cold water
  22. Wear lose fitting clothes – especially cotton
  23. Chill water for your water bottle
  24. Eat ice or ice blocks
  25. Take a cool shower
  26. Eat small meals more often
  27. Eat spicy food (e.g. curries and chilies)
  28. Have a cool bath
  29. Hang out in the basement if you have one
  30. Avoid drinks which cause dehydration e.g. alcohol and coffee
  31. Avoid strenuous activity
  32. Wear light-colored clothes
  33. Paint your roof with heat reflective paint
  34. Consider an aloe-Vera (cooling) moisturizer for skin and after sun care
  35. Investigate re-useable liquid ice wraps and Mentholated Migraine Ice Patches (soft gel patches available in chemists)
  36. Consider planting trees near your north and west-facing windows
  37. Drink chrysanthemum tea
  38. Try a feather down pillow, which allows airflow
  39. Freeze wet flannels
  40. Consider a Chillow (a thin, soft, thermo-regulating leather device that pops inside your pillow to cool it down)
  41. Stick sheets in plastic bags in the fridge before bed
  42. Lose the duvet and sleep under a cool sheet
  43. Outdoor shades for windows
  44. Indoor shades for windows
  45. Think and visualize snow and ice – apparently this works!
  46. Removable reflective film on glass for summer months
  47. Seal gaps in doors and windows
  48. Block out blinds
  49. Purchase a chill towel
  50. Just cool the room you’re in, not the whole house

Please head these warnings – courtesy of WikiHow

  • Babies, children, pregnant women, and the elderly are all more prone to overheating. Be sure to keep an eye on at-risk members of your family, co-workers, and neighbors.
  • Heat is often the uncomfortable companion of drought. If there are water restrictions in your area, make sure you consider them before implementing any of the water-intensive suggestions above.
  • Excessive heat could cause heat stroke and death.
  • In many areas, high daytime temperatures can set off afternoon thunderstorms. Be prepared for such weather situations.
  • If you experience symptoms of heat stroke or dehydration, Call the Emergency Services or other emergency personnel and seek professional assistance. A body temperature above 104°F (40C) is life-threatening and fatal if it reaches 113°F (45C).
  • As you age, your body does not regulate temperature as well as it used to (even if you stay fit) and your pores may not be able produce as much sweat. Be cautious and relax in an air-conditioned place for a while.
  • While it is rarely a problem for individuals with good health, over-hydration is a possibility for individuals with heart, liver or kidney problems. If you have any serious health problems, be mindful of how much water you drink, since your kidneys may not be able to process an excessive amount of water properly.
  • Methods involving blowing a small fan or one’s breath over ice are typically not worthwhile and may even be dangerous. They have negligible house-cooling capacity, making the ice in a refrigerator is much less efficient than air conditioning and heats the indoors, and salt is messy, corrosive, and makes water highly conductive of electricity. The best way to cool oneself with ice from the fridge is to drink it.
  • If you pour water all over yourself and then sit in front of something like a fan or an AC, you may get sick as those appliances will make you cold very quickly, also try to refrain from going to cold places if you’re very sweaty.

 

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Have you had this sinking feeling before when it comes to energy? You know you might have left a few lights on or had a few too many long showers but you are still shocked at the price on the bill as your money flashes before your eyes. There goes the new dress you were planning on buying or some extra money towards that home deposit. Don’t you just hate that?
Winter is the worst time for this awful moment, when heating is constantly on and we spend more time indoors curled up in front of the telly. Then there’s the dryer. I don’t know many mums who like hanging out all those fiddly socks and little things. As so, on goes the dryer in a spinning frenzy of disappearing money. Don’t worry. I do it too. All I can say is go summer! When we all live in our swimmers and there’s no need for socks. Ha!
If you don’t like chewing up money in a dryer or heater, there’s good news. There are many ways you don’t have to do this and you can save stacks of money and energy in just a few smart ninja-style energy-saving moves. Some of these are simple fixes like changing lightbulbs or switching off some appliances at the wall. Others take a bit more time and money like upgrading your water heater or installing new insulation. Whatever your budget, these five tips are a great starting point for stopping those big utility bills in their tracks.

1.    Upgrade appliances

The latest technology applies to all your household items too. These days all new appliances come with an energy star rating, and offer a handy way to compare energy efficiency.
Let’s take the humble dishwasher for example. This little contraption has really come a long way since its invention. The latest dishwashers use 50% of water and 40% less energy than those made in the early 90s. A modern dishwasher that uses just 150 kWh per year costs roughly $45. Compare that to its old 380kWh competitor, which costs about $114 to run. Add all your appliances together using this example, and shortly be running up the street waving cash around like a mad monkey. These costs add up and they give you plenty of extra cash to save and spend!
Then there’s the fridge. Fridges are equally expensive, according to Sustainability Victoria, because they’re on the go 24/7 – just like us mums really! A four star energy rated fridge will cost about $60 less each year, than its two star equivalent.
If can’t upgrade, just yet apply a little common sense. Turn your fridge down a couple degrees so it doesn’t have to work as hard. Or only run the dishwasher after hours (in off-peak times) and when full.
Oh and don’t forget the kettle. My electrician tells me this cute little machine is actually a power-sapping monster. Beware!

2.    Replacing lightbulbs

One of the easiest and effective upgrades you can do is changing lightbulbs. Many households still use standard incandescent bulbs, rather than LEDs or CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). These bulbs last for 8-10 years and that’s an innings of 50x longer than standard bulbs. Eartheasy estimates that both LEDs and CFLs will save you thousands over a 10-year period. Oh and there’s no excuse now. The Aussie government is paying electricians to install these babies for free. Google how to do that and your house will have a lightbulb makeover in no time.

3.    Compare Energy Providers

Did you know you can control your energy provider and not the other way around? Yes. You have the power! (Excuse the pun J) If you’re not getting the best deal, think about comparing energy suppliers using sites like Switchwise to find better deals and lower energy bills fast.

4.    Use a household app

If you love a great app, I’m happy to report that there are some amazing apps out there for taking control of your devices. Again – you have the power! Did you know that now you could remotely control appliances like your oven, TV or washing machine from your smartphone? I haven’t done this yet – but this news is groundbreaking for a busy mum. I’m picturing sitting on the couch every night with my life in a remote control! Gotta love technology.
At the supermarket and realised you forgot to turn off the oven? No probs! There’s an app for that! I am sure you are getting the picture.
From an energy-saving viewpoint, you can use apps to monitor and turn off appliances that are wasting energy. Other apps even let you see when and where you’re wasting energy. Check out 10 of the best energy efficient apps here.

5.    Get better windows

A major source of heat loss comes happens through windows, especially if they’re not double-glazed. Replace windows and they will pay for themselves over time in reduced heating and cooling costs. For a quick fix, think about reducing leaks using caulk or weatherstrip. Also consider investing in energy efficient window treatments.
Do you have some great ways to save on utility bills? Be sure to share them in comments below.

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Spring is almost here and I’m rounding up some quick ways to clear the clutter and make some fast cash this week. Read on to discover how you can make money selling your stuff, how to use price checkers to sell and save, and how to avoid typical money-sapping activities. The results will surprise you and bring you happiness in the form of extra cash. Yay!

Some ways to lose money

There are plenty of ways to lose money everyday. Here are some examples:

  1. You could throw the cash in your wallet out the window the minute you get caught by a speed camera.
  2. You could screw up a $50 note in the simple act of ‘popping up the shops’ and throwing random items into a supermarket trolley.
  3. You could throw some more money into the wind by leaving lights on around the house, having long showers and turning up your ducted heating.
  4. You could then burn any extra spare cash you had by then paying those utility bills too late.

I’m sure you get my drift.
People throw money away everyday and they do it randomly, happily and without thinking about it. We are all way too busy.

Reasons you might need extra money

Perhaps you need more of the green stuff for reasons other than living costs.
Here are a few reasons I need some extra money right now:

  1. I need to get to my brothers wedding in NZ in peak season, just before New Year’s Eve and with the whole family.
  2. I’d love to buy the latest iPhone (the screen on my iPhone 5 is too small), so I can read text messages without having to find my glasses!
  3. My kids want to buy their daddy a really awesome Father’s Day gift this year, rather than socks and jocks.
  4. I’d like to buy a PS4 for my 10 year old for Christmas and they cost a more than pretty penny.
  5. We need to finish our renovation project by Christmas.
  6. Hubby and I both need new computers. Ours are getting on in life.

There are plenty more reasons for needing extra money but believe me, but I’d take up too much time listing them.

In summary

  1. People throw money away daily without noticing. So, we need to find ways to save more and spend less. Period.
  2. We could all do with more money for the extras in life. So, we need to find ways to make extra money. Period.

How to make $400 without working

To get started on this week’s quick moneymaking venture, watch my video on how to make up to $400 this week without working. Trust me. I do this exercise every six months and the tips here will transform your finances overnight.

Here’s the big tip

It’s not what you’re making. It’s how you are saving and not spending it.

7 fast and practical ways to make quick cash this week

1. Spare Change

This is how my kids currently make money, but truthfully – this works for anyone and you can do this right now. Become a scavenger in your own house and peck around like a little pigeon for all that lose change.
Here are some great spots to look:

  1. Under the bed
  2. Inside the washing machine (the rubber insert inside the door)
  3. The junk drawer
  4. In desk drawers and bedside tables
  5. Pockets of jackets and pants (Raid the wardrobe!)
  6. Behind the couch
  7. In the car between and under the seats
  8. In the crevices of the sofa and under it
  9. Under carpets and rugs
  10. In your wallet of course (that secret pocket you don’t check much)

Action: Go on a scavenger hunt right now or when you get home from work. Put some fast coin in your pocket today.

2. Sell Your Stuff

Spring is almost here and if you are like me, you are already looking at the piles of junk that accumulate over winter. Now is the perfect time to take a good look around your home and find ways to clear the clutter while you make some fast cash on the side.
My favourite site is Gumtree because I’m finding auction sites like eBay now have inflated prices due to their auction-style listings. I love Gumtree because sales are fast, people turn up, pay you cash and then take your unwanted items away. It’s a real win-win. Plus there are hundreds of bargains to be found.
I also love their app, because I can walk around my house, photograph the items I’d like to sell and immediately list them – right there on the spot.

Here’s a list of just some of the savings I’ve made this year on my renovation using Gumtree:

  1. Caesarstone kitchen bench $200 (worth $3000)
  2. 900mm oven $200 (worth $1000)
  3. 500 carpet tiles at $1 each – $500 (worth $2000)
  4. Brand new kitchen cabinets made to measure – $780 (worth $2500)
  5. Sliding doors – $1200 (Worth $4000)

If it weren’t for Gumtree I would have spent a total of $12,500. Instead I’ve spent just $2880 for a new kitchen plus oven, carpet for the whole house and sliding doors.
As you can imagine I am absolutely chuffed to have saved close to $10,000 through spending time on Gumtree!!!
And they also have a great tool for sellers who would like to get the pricing on items right. The tool is called Price Checker and is great for items such as consumer electronics. If you are a seller you can determine the right market price for your item. For example, if you are selling an iPhone, this tool will determine the best price for listing your iPhone. As a buyer, you can also be assured you won’t be paying too much for the item or you can find out its value before making a purchase.
If you are planning to sell your stuff and clear the clutter this spring, be sure to use techy tools like Price Checker to simplify the process and to make listing your items super easy.

Action: Download the Gumtree app and start listing a few items for sale. You could have extra cash in your pocket as early as this evening, tomorrow or by the end of the week.

3. Take back returns

I am sure you would agree that returns are a pain and people tend to stash them away in cupboards for a time when they might take them back.

Here’s the big tip with returns:

  1. Never stash a return in a cupboard
  2. Place it near the front door or in your car

This way, next time you leave the house or are at the shops in your car, you will remember to return the item.
Action: Go around the house right now and collect up all those returns you’ve been ‘meaning to take back.’ You could rack up some fast cash today!

4. Slash expenses

As modern consumers with busy lives it is easy to let subscriptions and direct debits runaway with us. Spend time this week going through your accounts online. Download a report for the past month and mark expenses on the list you can cull. Be ruthless with this exercise.
Try to find ‘free versions’ of the same item. For example, if you have Foxtel or Netflix, consider investing in a box (e.g. Apple TV) for streaming YouTube or Internet to your television. Quite unused gym memberships and find a mortgage or insurance brokers to drastically reduce your expenses.
Persevere with this exercise until you cannot find anything else to take away. You’ll be left with a substantial increase in cash flow next month! Yay! Reward yourself for all the hard work using a portion of the savings! Now, put the rest away for an emergency.

Action: Block out time on your calendar this week to go through this month’s expenses. Spend an evening while watching TV slashing online subscriptions or emailing companies with cancellations. Make a list of the savings to record your progress.

5. Skip a grocery shop or cook in bulk

Groceries are a huge weekly expense and you can save thousands each year just by skipping a grocery shop. I do this regularly and in fact, I don’t plan trips to the supermarket unless they are absolutely necessary. Use up everything in your home before venturing into a grocery store. The reason you should avoid ‘going up the shops’ at all costs is that marketing is extremely strong in supermarkets. So, even if you are popping it to get milk, it is likely you will return with much more than just milk. The less trips you do to the shops the better – period.
Tip: Always stock up on long life milk, bread (for the freezer) and items that might cause you to do those ‘quick trips up the shops.’

Action: Heading to the shops tonight or sometime this week? Stop! Go back inside, rummage around your fridge and freezer and challenge yourself to a cook-up using what is in the house. Share your creations in comments below.

6. Pay your bills as they come in

While you may like to do this task in bulk, it might be equally effective to simply pay bills as they come in. Do this particularly for electricity and gas bills, which incur heftier fees if they are not paid on time. If you get into this habit, you will reduce the risk of being ‘over your head’ with bills and you will always have a fair idea of what is really in your bank account.

Action: Get out any bills sitting on your desk today and pay them. Do this every day this week – if funds allow.

7. Stay home – it costs money to leave

And here’s the simplest tip of all:
Leaving the house costs money. If you get better at finding things to do at home (i.e. find a hobby) you’ll save money. Period. Alternatively, find outdoor adventures such as gardening, a walk or bike ride, that don’t rely on a travel costs, your car or paying someone something.

Action: Write down two activities you do outside the home that are costing you money. Now find an at-home replacement for these activities that will save you money.


Have you got some great ways to save or make money this week? Be sure to share them in comments below.
 

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Air conditioning may be the last thing on your mind, as winter is fast approaching. Most of us are battening down the hatches, thinking about heating, sealing drafts, buying hot water bottles, blankets, putting in installation and starting to pull out those winter clothes we’ve stashed away.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how much I believe the savings are in the organization! You can make extreme savings each day, week and year just by planning ahead and being constantly ahead of things.
Well, the same goes for air conditioning! Think about installing air conditioning now for summer and you’ll reap the benefits of planning ahead.

Here are 10 cool ways to save on air conditioning and plan ahead for summer

1. Think about installing an air conditioner in winter

Don’t pay more expensive air conditioning fees than you have to. It’s a little like booking a tradie right now to install a heater. This time of year is their ‘peak’ time and you would know that anything purchased in peak times (e.g travel) is going to cost more. Think and plan ahead – always.

2. Call your electricity company

It’s very competitive out there. We consumers have the upper hand due to the range of choice and s