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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 do you transfer money from PayPal to a bank account?

Transferring money from PayPal to an Australian bank account is simple. Just follow these three steps:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Click ‘Transfer Money’
  • Follow the instructions

The money will take three to seven business days to reach your bank account.

Once you’ve made the transfer request, it can’t be withdrawn.

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.

How can I wire money to a bank account?

You can wire money to an Australian bank account either through your own bank or by using a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Either way, you’ll need the other person’s name, BSB number and account number. If you use a money transfer company, you might also need to provide the recipient’s address for large payments.

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 transfer money from Paypal to my bank account?

Transferring cash from Paypal into your bank account is simple…if you have a Paypal account that is.

Once you’re logged into your Paypal account, the account balance will appear on your home page. Below your balance are two options:

  • Add money
  • Withdraw money

Choose option two if you want to transfer money from your Paypal account to your personal bank account.

The next screen will prompt you to either enter new bank account details or choose a bank account that’s connected to Paypal. You can always add more bank accounts to your Paypal profile.

Another way to transfer out of Paypal is by jumping to the wallet tab on the top menu, and clicking ‘transfer money’. Both options will give you the same result.

How to transfer money to another bank account

Transferring money to another bank is often called a bank transfer, and it can be done a few different ways.

Customers generally need three pieces of information to transfer money to another bank account. Customers need the account name, BSB and account number of the account they wish to transfer money to.

One way of transferring money to another bank account is in a branch with the help of a staff member; they will often give you a receipt as well as confirmation of the transfer.

Transfers can be also made via internet banking and phone banking.

Some banks also allow customers to make transfers via partnered ATMs, especially if the account is with the same bank.

Can I open bank accounts for my children?

A common question for new parents is, ‘Can I open a bank account for my child?’

The short answer is yes – as a parent you can open a bank account for your child.

Once you’ve compared your options and found a bank account that suits your needs, the process is relatively simple.

As the bank account is for your child, you’ll need to provide some documentation such as proof of ID, including your tax file number.

You will also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate, and in some cases you may also need to sign a guarantee of indemnity.

Depending on the bank and whether you’re an existing customer, you may be able to open a bank account for your child online. However, you may still need to go into a branch to prove your identity.

How do I open a new bank account?

There are a number of ways to open a new bank account – online, over the phone or in the branch. The trick is to decide what type of bank account you want beforehand.

It might sound like a simple enough task, but there are literally hundreds of bank accounts to choose from. And each offer their own banking features and benefits.

A comparison site like RateCity can help you work out what bank account product matches your needs.

Once you’ve made up your mind what you want, it’s advisable to have the following information ready for the application process.

  • A couple of forms of identification (such as driver’s licence, Medicare card, passport)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, contact phone number and email (though email is not essential)

How do I open a bank account if I'm under 18?

The good news for savvy young folks like you wanting to take charge of your finances is that there are many bank accounts available for under-18s.

For bank accounts that require you to be 18 or older, you’ll have to rope in a parent or guardian to open the account for you.

Otherwise, you can apply by yourself online or at the branch of the bank, credit union or building society that has the account you would like to open. 

If applying online, you might be asked for a form of identification. For under-18s, this could be a Medicare card you’re listed on, your birth certificate and/or your current home address.

In most cases, you can verify your identity online (at the time of applying) or at the branch afterwards.

Do I need to open a business bank account?

Just because you’re in business doesn’t necessarily mean you need a business bank account. You could be a sole trader not registered for GST, and use your personal bank account for business.

If you do want a business account, there are plenty of benefits attached to business transaction and savings accounts, as well as business term deposits.

There are business bank accounts designed for businesses with a high volume of transactions, and those for start-ups with a small amount of trade. You could also include an EFTPOS service with your account.

Some business bank accounts charge for the number of transactions per month, while others offer a pay-as-you-go fee structure, where you only pay fees for transactions you make.

It’s up to you whether your priority is mainly transactions, or earning the maximum amount of interest on your principal. There’s a business banking solution for you if you need one.

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.

Can debt collectors take money out of your bank account?

Many people find themselves struggling to cope with debt at one time or another. In these cases, a debt collector could contact you to demand payment for a debt, to explain the consequences of you failing to pay a debt, or to organise alternative payment arrangements.

If you’re contacted by a debt collector, you may be wondering what their rights are and whether they can take money out of your bank account.

Creditors cannot access money in your bank account unless a court order (also known as a ‘garnishee order’) is made to allow creditors to recover debt by taking money from your bank account or salary.

If this happens, the creditor can take money out of your bank account unless you pay the debt in full or make an alternative payment arrangement such as paying in instalments through the court.

Can I close a bank account with pending transactions?

You can close a bank account with pending transactions. But after the account is closed, any incoming transactions will be declined by your (old) bank.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t occur is to either wait to close your account until all pending transactions are complete, or contact the creditor and supply them with alternate bank details.

If you’re unsure whether you have any scheduled transactions, you can speak to a banking representative over the phone or via online support.

In most cases, your bank withholds the amount owing for pending transactions (such as online purchases).

Because the pending amount is deducted from your bank balance, you can close your bank account and the purchase will be honoured.

Which bank is best for business accounts?

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to the question of which bank is best for business accounts. That’s because ‘best’ will differ from customer to customer, depending on their unique circumstances. These include not only your company’s financial position, but also its size, its age and the sector in which it operates. Another factor to consider is what features you want in a bank account. Your business may require different features than another business; and your business may require different features tomorrow than it does today.

The best thing to do is to thoroughly research the market before opening a business account. And when you do open an account, you should reassess your options every year or two, because the market moves quickly. A particular bank might offer the best account today, but be surpassed by one or several rivals tomorrow.