How to save money on your aircon – if you dare

Aussies are “wasting” millions of dollars each year on aircon, a new study has shown.

I’m not sure if the author of the study has ever lived in Queensland – but I don’t think you can ever call airconditioning in our scorching state a “waste”.

For instance last night in our household, we held off as long as possible in turning on the artificial cooling. By 6pm, after serving my kids dinner and with sweat literally accumulating in puddles all over my body, I waved the white flag of surrender and agreed to turn on the ducted aircon.

The whole house shuddered to life with the low buzz of the air-con motors, battling against the elements to project cool air into each room.

It was heaven.

And to be honest, I don’t know how we would have slept without it?!

Turning to aircon is a habit that wastes around $55m each year, according to Finder research, particularly as too many people leave it on when they go out.

Energy expert Graham Cooke argues that we’ve become “too indulgent with our cooling”, adding that airconditioners should be viewed as a last resort.

“Save the aircon for a heatwave or those nights where you just can’t possibly fall asleep because it’s so hot,” he says.

“If your aircon is blasting to the point where you’re reaching for a jumper or blanket at night, it’s time to readjust your settings.”

While that is a fair point – aircon should be used to take the edge off the heat, not transform you into an eskimo – I’d have to say that it’s a bit of a necessity in Queensland, rather than being “indulgent”.

You can minimise your expenses (and the impact on the environment) by watching your degrees. The typical household ran their airconditioner at 22 degrees, according to the research, which is three degrees lower than the optimal temp of 25.

“We need to stop putting comfort above cost and the environment,” Cooke said.

“There are a number of things we can be doing to keep cool during summer and your aircon should be the last option.”

Cooke added that on average, most households can save $50 or more during the summer by turning the thermostat up by two degrees.

I have to put it out there: fans are great and all, and I love my pool. But the incentive is going to have to be a hell of a lot greater than $50 to allow our house to survive under a sweltering 30 degree-plus sky without turning to our trusty cooling system.

Work Woman

Are working parents falling “a bit short”?

Last week, Jamila Rizvi took issue with the way a working mum was depicted in the absolutely brilliant Brisbane-made children’s’ cartoon, Bluey.

The description of the mum character, Chilli, was described as falling “a bit short” as a parent because she works, and isn’t “able to pull off” quite as much with her kids, when compared to other non-working mums.

Jamila wrote on Twitter: “This is so incredibly disappointing from writers I’ve come to worship… What a horrible write-up of a mum doing a damn fine job. PS. I know I am getting very worked up about a cartoon but honestly, before the age of 5 is where most of the neural pathways are formed for a child. This stuff matters enormously.”

The scandal, though you can barely call it that, was over practically before it started, as show creator Daley Pearson immediately jumped in with a fix.

“Thank you so much for the catching this, Jamila. We caught this last night and greatly appreciate you letting us know,” he wrote.

“We love Chilli so much and we’re revising now. We wanted to address quickly and we updated last night for you and the Bluey family. Thank you, Thank you.”

The whole situation, however, prompts me to reflect on what it means to be a working mother in this day and age.

The expectations are exceptionally high – to the point where we really do anticipate that working parents can do and achieve every bit as much as non-working parents.

And that’s just not realistic.

If you’re working, that means you genuinely have less hours in the week to spend with your kids.

I know this, because I’m a working parent. With my first child when I worked less, we spent most of our days at the park, at playgroup, at rhyme time, at swimming lessons, at baby music classes.

These days, my three-year-old is winning if I manage to take him to the park once a fortnight. Being a working mum of three is busy and I just simply can’t achieve what would be possible if I didn’t work.

Maybe the problem is not that we suggest parents “fall a bit short” when they don’t achieve everything in a day that non-working parents can.

Maybe the problem is that we expect that they can.

Youthful Exuberance

School’s out! So hold onto your hats, folks, it’s on again.

As thousands of school-leavers descend upon Surfers Paradise for the annual ritual of revelry that has become known as Schoolies Week, thousands more parents hold their collective breath in dread and anticipation. The institutional shackles have been broken and cast aside, leaving only the unbridled celebratory passion of youth.

Every year, around this time, I invariably field a few frantic phone calls from embarrassed schoolies, and/or their outraged parents, calling for legal help to clean up the often-messy consequences of too much hard partying. Thankfully, mostly the damage is minor, and the fallout relatively short-lived.

Unfortunately, it’s not always so. Youthful inexperience and innocent exuberance, particularly when mixed with intoxicating substances, can have serious and potentially long-lasting consequences.

A few years back I acted for a young, newly-qualified doctor who was charged with a minor assault. He defended the charge, and was ultimately acquitted, but that didn’t stop medical professional regulators requiring he give them a close explanation for his behaviour, not only in relation to the unsuccessful assault charge, but also in relation to an aged conviction he had for public nuisance, dating back to his hazy, crazy behaviour during Schoolies Week, before he even began his medical studies. He had pleaded guilty to the public nuisance, and as a result for one dreadful moment, his right to practice his chosen profession was under a cloud. Extensive submissions were made and eventually, after some considerable anxiety, he was given the all clear. But that one little moment of madness, committed in the full flush of Schoolies Week merriment, most certainly came back to haunt him.

It could have been much, much worse.

Earlier this week a 17 year old found herself deep in hot water over her antics atop the 13th-storey rail-less balcony ledge of a high-rise building in Surfers Paradise. Filmed by a nearby onlooker, the intrepid young daredevil was seen handing something to a young man before casually walking along the narrow ledge and then sitting down, not much more than a metre from the towering edge.

Not surprisingly, the footage has given horrified parents conniptions, and whipped up a frenzy of outrage in the Gold Coast community, particularly given the stern and often-repeated warnings by Queensland Police about the grave risks associated with dangerous behaviour on balconies. Worse still, the young lady’s antics come in the wake of the awful death of young Hamish Bidgood, who sadly fell to his death from the balcony of a Surfers Paradise high rise building during schoolies celebrations last year, after inhaling nitrous oxide while partying with friends.

At the very least, ‘balcony-hopping’ can see young revellers face up to 12 months imprisonment for unlawfully climbing the outside of a building or structure, under the Summary Offences Act. Let’s hope their youthful exuberance doesn’t have more permanent consequences.

This post was authored by Jonathan Nyst, Queensland Criminal Lawyer, and originally published on the Nyst Legal website. It has been re-published with permission.

Eyelash Extensions

One big reason to avoid eyelash extensions

We need to talk about eyelashes. Specifically: when did we all decide that the eyelashes we’re packing are not enough?

Big, black false eyelashes used to be the sole domain of drag queens. Then they slowly became more prevalent with celebrities and socialites. Everyday ladies began sporting them at gala balls and events and flashy nights out.

But now, false eyelashes are absolutely everywhere. They’re on the middle-aged woman serving you groceries at Woolies. They’re on the 20-something at the gym who is sweating it out with a face of no makeup. They’re even on the teenager working part-time in retail.

If you’ve been considering getting your own eyelashes hyped up, here’s one big reason why you might want to think twice: eyelash lice.

Yep, you read that correctly.

Handing over your hard-earned cash for eyelash extensions could leave you with a nasty case of mites crawling around your eyes, according to new warnings.

It happens when women don’t clean their eye area well enough because they’re afraid to touch them, lest their expensive new lashes fall out.

“The lice burrow to the base of the lash follicles, and they feed off this material. Infection can set in if they overpopulate,” warns Dr. Keshini Parbhu, from the Orlando Eye Institute’s Dry Eye Help Center.

If you visit a salon or engage a practitioner who doesn’t properly clean their tools, you’ll also be at higher risk of an infection, the doc says, advising that people who wear eyelash extensions should use medical-grade cleansers containing soothing Tea Tree oil.

That brings me to my next point: how do all of these women afford it?!

Lash extensions cost something like $70-80 per application, and they need to be updated every few weeks. Factor in some medical grade cleanser and this is a mighty expensive beauty habit.

How did we possibly convince women that they need to be spending $1000+ per year to supplement their existing eyelashes which are, in all likelihood, good enough already?

I blame the Kardashians (they’re an easy target!). Ever since they became famous with their over the top sense of “beauty”, they’ve redefined what everyday people accept as the average standard.

It’s high time we gave this beauty trend the flick – and went back to accepting our poor little lashes as they are.

Israel Folau Video

Alan Jones condemns Israel Folau’s bushfire comments

You know things are bad when even controversial shock jock Alan Jones is telling you to “button up”.

That’s exactly what happened after football player Israel Folau made headlines again over the weekend, for yet another impassioned “sermon” about how terrible human beings are.

This time, during his 10-minute video sermon he has linked our sinning ways with the increasing number of bush fires that are burning along the east coast.

“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bush fires and the droughts,” the 30-year-old says.

He goes on to say the timing of the bush fires are no coincidence, and are linked to recent changes to same sex marriage laws and abortion laws.

“Look how rapid these bush fires these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys. Australia you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right.”

Folau also reads from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible to prove his point: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”

His comments have been met with more than a healthy dose of confusion, disappointment, upset and disgust.

One of his biggest supporters, Alan Jones, condemned the comments, saying Israel is “a lovely human being, I know him well. But, Israel, button up. These comments don’t help.”

Meanwhile, Anglican minister Peter Kurti described Folau’s views as “outrageous”.

“These are outrageous views and they are up there with the religious fanaticism of the Greens,” Kurti says.

“But… we live in a free country and if this is what Israel Folau believes… he’s a preacher talking to his congregation. Surely in Australia we want to defend his right to do so even though we can think the views he expresses are completely wrong and offensive.”