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.

Opening a bank account for someone under 18

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 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 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 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.

Can foreigners open bank account in Australia?

If you’re migrating, studying or working in Australia, you’ll be pleased to know that you can open an Australian bank account. For the most part, opening a bank account in Australia is a simple process which starts by comparing the types of bank accounts foreigners can open in Australia.

Once you’ve found a bank account that suits your needs, you can start the application process.

When you apply for the account, you’ll need to provide proof of ID which may include your passport, overseas ID or credit card. You may also need to provide a copy of your visa and proof of address in Australia.

Depending on the bank and the type of account you choose, you may be able to apply for the account online or over the phone before you arrive in Australia.

How do I close my bank account online?

You can usually easily open a bank account online, but you often can’t close it online.

Many banks and credit unions will only let you close an account if you go into a branch or call them on the phone.

However, some banks will let you request to close the account via your internet banking. Check your financial provider’s website for details.

Just remember: If you still have funds in the bank account, transfer them to another account, or withdraw the cash. Also, if you have any payments like direct debits going in or out of the bank account, these will also stop when you close your account.

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.

How do I overdraw my Commonwealth Bank account?

Overdrawing a bank account can happen by accident. It’s often hard to know what your balance is, particularly with direct debits, scheduled repayments and pending transactions competing for cash.

To avoid being stuck with a bank fee every time your account is overdrawn, you can apply for a personal overdraft. This will enable you to overdraw your account up to an approved amount.

A personal overdraft is connected to your CommBank Everyday Account, so you can enjoy easy access to extra funds once approved – anywhere from $100 up to $20,000.

Your overdraft funds can be accessed via your CommBank keycard or Debit MasterCard, or online through NetBank and the CommBank app.

To apply you can either call the Commonwealth Bank directly or visit your local branch.

How do you deposit change into your bank account?

One way to deposit change into your bank account is to visit a branch. Many lenders will also allow you to deposit your change through one of their ATMs.

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.

How do you find a bank account number by name?

For privacy reasons, Australian banks won’t hand out account numbers or other details about their customers. However, if you provide a bank with a BSB and account number, they should be able to confirm if those numbers belong to one of their customers.

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.