Beat the heat, cheap, keeping costs down while staying cool

Beat the heat, cheap, keeping costs down while staying cool

Summer in Australia can be tough, doubly so when you’re hit with a surprise heatwave. When the temperature starts climbing towards 40°C and up, staying cool and well-hydrated is a must.

While the simplest way to stay cool during a heatwave is to invest in an air conditioner, it’s rarely the cheapest option available, both in up-front and running costs.

Here are some tips to help you stay cool in summer without spending a bundle:

Stay in the shade

Why do garden greenhouses get so hot? It’s because the glass lets sunlight in to warm up the air inside, but doesn’t let this hot air escape. 

The same principle applies when it comes to your home’s windows during the summer. If the hot sun is allowed to shine into your home, the indoor temperature may rise. If this hot air isn’t allowed to escape, your home may quickly grow uncomfortably warm.   

One option to consider is covering your windows with shades, shutters, blinds, tinting or curtains during the day, keeping the sun’s rays outside and limiting their impact on your home’s temperature. These coverings can be removed at night to prevent them from insulating your home and locking too much warmth indoors.

Make smart use of cross-ventilation

A ceiling fan, desk fan, or upright fan may be relatively inexpensive to buy/install, but may not be able to beat the summer heat all on its own. While the indoor breeze from a fan can feel refreshing, simply moving your home’s hot air around does nothing to lower the temperature.   

One option is to open some of your doors and windows, allowing air to flow in through one opening and out through the other. This cross-ventilation, encouraged by a running fan, can help to move the warm air out of your home and bring cooler air inside to replace it.

This of course assumes that the air is cooler outside your home than inside – it may be worth waiting until night-time, when things have cooled down, to put this strategy into action.

Mind your energy usage

There are two reasons to consider limiting your use of electronics and appliances in the hottest days of summer – heat generation and running costs.

Everything in your home that runs on electricity generate a small amount of heat as a side effect. While some gadgets and household appliance produce more waste heat than others – your laptop likely runs hotter than your radio, for example – the combined effect of a household full of electronics can mean a warmer than average household, which is exactly the opposite of what you want in the summer.

If unplugging your electronics isn’t a viable option (some gadgets use energy and generate heat even in standby mode), it’s important to estimate their electricity usage, calculate their running costs, and work out where you can change your usage habits to cut costs.  

Working out the approximate running costs of any appliance involves finding its wattage (often included in the manual or specifications sheet), adding up the number of hours it’s typically used over a length of time (day/week/month/year), then comparing this to the cost of electricity in your area (check with your energy provider).

Stay dry

Sometimes it’s not the heat, but the humidity that bothers you in summer, especially in Australia’s more tropical regions. In cases such as these, a dehumidifier could be useful for removing excess moisture from your home’s air, while also being relatively inexpensive compared to an air conditioner.

Not only can a dehumidifier help make tropical summers feel a bit less sticky, but drying out your home can help to discourage the growth of mould and mildew, which is good news for allergy sufferers.  

Keep in mind that while a dehumidifier can help to keep you dry, it won’t necessarily help to cool your home down – in fact, dehumidifiers often emit a small amount of warm air as exhaust.

Run your aircon efficiently

If you do own an air conditioner, it’s important to be realistic about what it can do, and to avoid using excess energy trying to achieve the impossible.

Smaller portable air conditioners, while cheaper than bigger split systems, tend to do their best work in smaller rooms, so don’t expect your little chiller to efficiently cool your large open-plan home. Also, their exhaust needs to be vented efficiently to get their best performance, which could limit their usage to rooms with windows that fit the exhaust hose.

Even the large split systems can use way more energy than required if not run smartly. For example, setting too low a target temperature compared to the current conditions (e.g. setting it to 20°C on a 40°C day) can mean the aircon will run its motor at full blast trying in vain to compete with the nigh-unlimited power of the sun.

The Australian government’s Energy Made Easy website recommends setting an aircon temperature of 26°C in summer to take the edge off your home’s temperature, rather than trying to turn your home into a walk-in fridge. This is a far more achievable goal for an aircon, and can help limit its energy use and wear and tear on the motor over time.

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Learn more about bank accounts

How can I check my bank account balance online?

Checking your bank account balance online is a simple process. Once you’ve logged in to your online banking, clock on the relevant account and the balance should be visible.

How do I open a bank account for a child?

There are few better ways for a child to learn about money management than through savings. And there’s a plethora of bank accounts designed specifically for young people and children.

A bank account for a child can be opened online, over the phone or in a branch in a few easy steps. The minimum age a child can open a bank account for themselves usually ranges between 12 and 14.

If the child is too young to open the account, you can do it for them as their legal parent or guardian. 

To do this, you would need to be over 18, have an Australian residential address and currently reside in Australia (or have proof of residency).

You would also need to provide:

  • Identification for yourself and the child
  • Your tax file number (TFN) or TFN exemption

Depending on the bank account, you might be able to choose what level of access the child has to their bank account (online and via the phone).

What do I need to open bank accounts online?

Opening a bank account online is a simple process and only takes between five to 10 minutes to complete. To get started you will need a computer or smartphone with internet access.

Information to have available when you’re ready to apply is:

  • Identification (such as driver’s licence, birth certificate, passport, proof-of-age card)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, email and a contact number

In some cases, you might be asked to provide employment details. If you’re not able to verify your identity online, most financial institutions let you provide this in the branch at a later date.

There are some types of bank account that you can apply for only in a branch. However, most bank accounts can be applied for conveniently online.

Can I link a bank account to Paypal?

Paypal is a safe and convenient way to pay online without the need to share your financial details. You can send and receive money or accept credit and debit cards as a seller using Paypal.

It’s easy to link your bank account to a Paypal account and start making transactions within minutes.

To start, you first need a Paypal account (it’s free to join). When setting up your Paypal account, you will be prompted to link a credit card or bank account (or both if you wish).

PayPal works without a balance; you can use Paypal to shop or send money when your balance is zero.

When your Paypal balance is zero, Paypal will ask you to choose your preferred payment method at the checkout.

This could be either your linked bank account or credit card. Your bank details can be updated if you change banks or credit cards.

How do I open a bank account for a baby?

If you’ve just welcome a new baby into the world, congratulations. Opening a bank account for your child can be a wonderful first gift.

Before you can open your child an account, you’ll need to have a birth certificate or passport for your baby.

As the parent or guardian, you’ll also be listed as a joint holder on the account. This means you’ll need to have proof of your identification and address (a driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate or Medicare Card).

Many banks and credit unions offer baby banks accounts. Usually, you can apply online; otherwise you can head into a local branch or office with your documents.

How do you change your account name on NAB banking?

Changing the name on your NAB bank account is straightforward, as long as you have the right documents.

If you’ve just got married, divorced or legally changed your name, here’s what you need:

  • Married – a marriage certificate
  • Divorced –your ‘decree nisi’
  • Legal name change –your legal name change certificate

You can take either the original document, or a certified copy, into a NAB branch, where it needs to be sighted by a bank employee and a copy taken.

Your NAB bank account name will be updated immediately. New debit, ATM and credit cards with your updated name will also need to be issued. These usually take between five to 10 working days to be posted out to you. Your existing cards will keep working until you activate your new ones.

If you haven’t legally changed your name, but just want to change your account nicknames, you can log onto NAB and do it through the Settings/Mailbox menu.

Can you open a bank account at 16?

Yes, you can open a bank account at 16, or even younger. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

What do you need to open bank accounts?

Opening a bank account is one of the simplest online tasks you could perform. The hard part is deciding which type of bank account you want to open.

All banking institutions have a website where you hit ‘apply’ on the account of your choice and step through an application in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s a list of information that is generally required for applications.

  • Identification (driver’s licence, passport, proof of age card, proof of citizenship and/or birth certificate)
  • Tax file number (so you don’t get charged the highest tax rate)
  • Address, contact email and phone number

If you decide to open a new account at the branch, make sure you ask beforehand what information you need to take with you, or take all of the above to be safe.

Can I close my bank account over the phone?

In most cases, you can close a personal or business bank account over the phone. In fact, this is the best way to ensure you’ve closed an account properly.

By speaking to a banking representative, you can capture and close out any pending transactions, or interest owing/payable on the account being closed.

In the instance where the account is a joint account, or you have multiple bank accounts you want to close, your bank may send you a form that you need to fill out and return.

Either way, you would be advised over the phone of the steps you need to take. Calling your bank ahead of closing an account is often a smart course of action.

How can I find bank accounts in my name?

To find ‘live’ bank accounts in your name, you’ll have to ask individual lenders, which involves contacting them one by one and proving your identity each time. To find ‘unclaimed’ bank accounts (those that have been inactive for at least seven years), you can use this website.

Do you need a bank account to sell on eBay?

You don’t need a bank account to sell on eBay. But if you don’t have a bank account, you must provide either a credit card or debit card.

Can I find my bank account number online?

Yes, you can find your bank account number by logging into your online banking and clicking on the relevant account.

How can I close a Commonwealth Bank account?

You can close your Commonwealth Bank account at any branch, provided you have appropriate identification. You can also close your account over the phone, by calling 132 221, 24 hours a day.

How do you set up a bank account online?

Once you’ve compared bank accounts and found the right one, the process of opening a bank account online is quite simple and can be done in around 10 minutes.

To set up a bank account online, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide an approved form of ID as well as your tax file number (TFN).

If you’re a new customer of the bank, you’ll need to verify your identity and potentially upload documents before you can complete your online application.

Once your ID has been verified and you’ve set up your bank account online, you should receive your bank cards in the mail along with your PIN and any other account details.