December 18, 2017

What is a Solar Battery and Is it Worth the Money?

With the rising cost of energy today, we have our homes equipped with energy-efficient appliances and products. Even small products like light bulbs are more efficient because we now have LED bulbs that can operate on lower energy settings without compromising functionality. Some households even have energy-saving devices installed.

Many Australian households are considering renewable energy solutions due to the increasing electricity costs. Solar storage is a primary alternative to power from the grid. But this is yet to be proven effective in saving money because every household has different energy requirements. This article shows you some points to consider before installing a solar battery. If you have never used a solar battery, you might not know what to expect. So, here are some things you need to know.

There are a lot of solar storage retailers in Australia that will give you a wide range of products to choose from. Units come in different sizes, price, and efficiency.

How much do they cost?

The biggest hindrance in the growth of the solar storage market is the cost of the units. The prices of these batteries depend on the storage size, which range from $1000 – $2000 per kWh capacity. A solar panel system can cost from $2000 – $12000 depending on the size. A basic solar storage unit of 4kWh is around $6000 – $8000.

Aside from the unit, you will also pay for a compatible inverter, and the installation cost, which will definitely set you back a serious amount of money, not to mention the complexity of the installation. This is why most solar companies give quotations so you can have an idea of what you’ll be spending.

What about the size of the solar battery that I will need?

Solar storage systems come in different sizes to support different needs. Most solar batteries on lower price range may not be enough to suit your electricity demands. Keep in mind that the larger the battery, the more expensive it will be so purchase the system that you think you only need.

Battery efficiency is also a consideration. It refers to how much energy is stored and converted to usable electricity. The technology today hasn’t yet perfected the efficiency of solar batteries. However, some models are more efficient than others.

How long will the storage battery last? 

The lifespan is measured in cycles, which refer to filling and emptying of the battery with electricity. Usually it is one cycle a day, so durability depends on how many cycles a battery can process.

Do you have other ideas on solar battery and energy-saving devices? Share your insights in the comments section.

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Why is It a Good Idea to Install Solar Power System in Your Home?

As time progresses, you’ll notice that your electricity bill will continuously increase. People become more and more reliant on a wide range of devices and appliances. Of course, there are several ways to lower energy consumption on a regular basis.  One of these is to use energy-efficient appliances and smart gadgets. You’ll find a wide selection of energy-efficient products out in the market today, designed not only to save money on utility bills but also to lower human impact to the environment.

Another way to reduce energy consumption is to install a solar power system in your home. If you like the idea of solar energy but is still not convinced that it will work well for you, here are several points that will make you think that installing a solar power system is a good idea:

Lower your electricity bill

The reality is, the cost of power is going up, but with the right solar power system, you can reduce your power bill.

Generate your own electricity

Not only will you be able to get cost savings, a solar power system will enable you to generate your own power. Solar PV panels on your roof can generate electricity even in winter and on overcast days. If there is surplus power, it is returned back into the grid. You’ll also be credited for the power you generate based on your utility.

Make your home more marketable

More and more Australians see the benefits of solar energy, so if you have a solar power system, it increases the value of your home.

It’s a long-term investment

While it may not bring you significant cost savings once it’s installed, you can reap the benefits later on. In most cases, a solar power system pays itself off in less than five years so the longer you have it in your home, the more benefits you can get.

It reduces your carbon footprint

Solar energy is green and renewable energy, reducing your impact on the environment. You’ll get significant cost savings, plus it’s environment-friendly. It’s a win-win situation.

Here are some of the reasons why it is a good idea to install a solar power system. If you’re planning to have one, make sure to do your research. While these pay themselves off after several years, a large upfront cost is usually associated with installing a solar power system.

Got other ideas on energy-efficient appliances and energy-saving devices? Share your tips in the comments section.

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9 Smart Gadgets that Help You Increase Your Productivity

Many people have a lot things to do on a daily basis. From household chores and social events to work-related matters or school activities, the to-do list seems to go on and on. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little help every now and then? In this day and age, help comes in the form of energy-efficient appliances and smart gadgets. There is a wide range of products that are designed to make our lives easier. Here are several smart gadgets that help in getting things done:

1. Variable balans Ergonomic Desk Chair

This enables your body to move like it should. It is designed with slightly curved legs so you can sit and stretch while working at your desk. 

2. Fidget Cube

If you’re the type of person who has restless hands that you’re always looking for something to do, make way for the Fidget Cube. Keep yourself busy with its six sides, each offering a different style and activity. There’s a dial for spinning, buttons to click and other features to keep your hands occupied.

3. Bluetooth Multi-device Keyboard

This new type of keyboard is also compatible with smartphones and tablets. It comes with an Easy-Switch so you can switch typing from one connected Bluetooth wireless device to another. It can be used for Windows, Mac or Chrome computers as well as Android or iOS mobile devices.

4. Altwork Station

Increase productivity and improve posture with this mechanical desk that transitions smoothly in four key positions.

5. Nest Thermostat

You can better manage your heating and cooling system with this smart gadget. It comes with the Farsight which displays the temperature, weather or time. It provides alerts if there’s something wrong with your system.

6. Kevo Smart Lock

It only takes one touch to lock and unlock with Kevo Smart Lock. It is powered by your smartphone or Bluetooth, so don’t have to waste time looking for your bundle of keys every time.

7. NeatDesk

Tired of handling piles of paper? Organise your desk with this high-speed desktop scanner and Smart Organization Software that can organize information, scan receipts and handle business cards and documents.

8. Tabletop Air Purifier

Keep air pollution at bay with this air purifier. It has an ionizer that cleans and freshens the air. It also helps remove common household odors.

9. Equil Smartpen 2

This smart gadget lets you sketch, doodle or draw on paper and transfer your work in digital form through Bluetooth in the pen’s built-in memory.

Do you know other energy-saving devices and smart gadgets? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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Netflix vs Foxtel: Pros and Cons

In this day and age when everything seems digital, there is an onslaught of technological advancements and products that help make our lives easier. From energy-efficient appliances to smart gadgets and smartphones, you’ll find a wide array of innovative products that cater to a wide range of markets.

In the world of entertainment, gone are the days when we rely solely on CD and DVD to watch movies. Nowadays, video streaming is the name of the game. The entertainment subscription market keeps growing, and it shows no signs of stopping. In Australia, two of the biggest players are Netflix and Foxtel. Each has its own share of features and drawbacks. But which one is better? In this article, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each video streaming service:

NETFLIX

The Good Side of Netflix

Netflix is easy to set up, with several streams available, plus a wide selection of original productions. You can access it through a wide range of platforms. Whether you have a smart TV, Chrome Cast, Apple TV, Fetch TV or mobile phone, you can watch Netflix conveniently. How much is a Netflix subscription? With a free one-month trial, you can have Netflix from $9.00 every month. If you want HD, it is available with a lock-in contract from $13.99 per month.

The Bad Side of Netflix

Netflix also comes with disadvantages. For instance, it does not include live TV or live sport. Because of many TV rights, there’s no enough premium content. Also, you need high-speed internet connection if you want uninterrupted video streaming. But then again, some shows on Netflix can be downloaded. If you want to watch shows such as Breaking Bad, Seinfeld or Better Call Saul, you’ll be disappointed with Netflix, as these shows have deals with Stan, another video streaming service provider.

FOXTEL

The Good Side of Foxtel

Foxtel offers a wide range of content, with different channel packs available for your viewing pleasure. Unlike Netflix, Foxtel has live sport and live TV – you don’t even need internet connection. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, Foxtel is the way to go as it has premium content such as GOT and HBO shows. You can choose from their broadband bundles which come with discounts and incentives. For Foxtel Now, you can have on-demand streaming from $10 per month. If you want on-demand live TV and sports streaming, go for Foxtel Go.

The Bad Side of Foxtel

With all of these offerings, it comes as no surprise that Foxtel is more expensive than Netflix. Expect to pay $26 per month on a base pack, while an extra pack costs more. Also, installation is required and HD is not widely available. If you avail the base pack, it does not include live sports, HD, as well as premium content.

Are you a fan of Netflix or Foxtel? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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Everything You Need to Know about Home Battery Storage

Climate change is one of the pressing issues nowadays. It’s such a big environmental concern that countries are called to work together to address it. Energy-saving devices and energy-efficient appliances are being produced to help in lowering energy usage.  In this world where coal and fossil fuels are commonly seen as culprits, renewable energy takes the centre stage, and one of the things related to renewables is home battery storage.

What does it mean? The battery storage technology involves the use of solar energy, a great way to reduce the impact of Australian households to the environment.

Here are some of the benefits of a home battery storage system:

Lower dependency on electricity to lower energy bills

If you’re already using energy-saving devices and smart gadgets, you can reduce your energy bill, but you can further reduce it with home battery storage.  It helps lower your dependency on electricity from the local grid during the night. This increased self-consumption of solar PV, in turn, leads to lower energy bills.

The more renewable energy we use, the better for the environment

Home battery storage is good for the environment because it uses sunlight instead of fossil fuels to generate electricity. The price of solar solutions decreases over time and more and more Australians are being encouraged to consider sustainable energy for their homes. According to the Climate Council, in the next few years, the installation of home battery storage will be cost-effective. Prices of battery storage seem to decrease, so this is good new for those who are planning to have home battery storage.

Home battery storage offers support in case of a blackout

Another benefit of home battery storage is that in case of a blackout, it should be able to keep some of your home’s appliances running for several hours.

Adding home battery storage is only the first step towards lowering your energy bill and minimising the environmental impact – what’s more important is what you do with it, and how. The use of home battery storage, together with energy-efficient appliance and smart gadgets, can greatly lower energy bills. If you’re considering to get home battery storage, do your research to have a better understanding of what it can do for you and the environment. You can also ask friends and the local community if they have experience in using home battery storage.

Got other ideas on home battery storage and energy-efficient products? Share your tips in the comments section.

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How to Choose the Best Value Mobile Phone Plan

Whether you visit a mobile phone store or go online, you’ll find that there is a very wide range of mobile phone plans available in the market nowadays in Australia. Brands keep coming up with new models and features to cater to the ever growing needs of different consumers. With so many kinds to choose from, it’s easy to be indecisive. Just like buying energy-efficient products and smart gadgets, you want to get the best deal, but how can you choose the best value mobile phone plan?

In this article, we’ve rounded up several factors to consider when choosing a mobile phone plan:

Decide what kind of mobile phone user you are

You’re looking for a plan out of necessity, and it is important to figure out what you are going to need it for. Do you need to make a lot of calls regularly? Be online all the time for social media and video streaming? Every model or plan is designed with a specific purpose and knowing what kind of mobile phone user you are can greatly narrow down your selection.

Know how much you can afford

Of course, we want to get the most out of our hard-earned money, but just like when buying any other items such as energy-saving devices and smart gadgets, it is important to take your budget into account. In most cases, it can actually be a game-changer. You may want your mobile phone plan to have all the latest features and functions, but if you cannot afford it, you will look for the range of plans that are within your budget.

Prepaid or postpaid

This is another factor to take into account, which is why it is important to look at the benefits and drawbacks of each. Can you commit to paying a monthly bill for a locked-in period of 12 to 24 months? There may be a penalty fee should you decide to quit a postpaid plan sooner. On the other hand, a prepaid plan enables you to have total control over your mobile phone usage. However, credits may expire at a certain time, so you need to check it regularly to avoid losing unused credits.

These are just some of the factors you can consider to choose the best value mobile phone plan. You can also ask family and friends about their experience with their current plans so you can make a better decision.

Got other tips on how to choose mobile phone plans and smart gadgets in Australia? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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What is Philips Hue Go and How does it Work with Apple?

In this day and age when technological advancements show no signs of stopping, it’s no surprise that the tech industry  in Australia always has something new to offer. Many are energy-efficient appliances and smart gadgets while others are so weird and quirky that the purpose of creating them may not be evident right away.

One of the energy-efficient products available in the market nowadays is the Philips Hue Go. This energy-saving device for your home offers a lot of benefits. It is versatile and enables you to choose from a wide range of colors and tones to set the desired ambiance for your home. Whether you opt for warm white light or cool energizing daylight, Philips Hue Go has something for your every mood.

One of the great things about Philips Hue Go is that it works with a range of apps, products, and platforms from certain brands. It works well with an iOS device through the Philips Hue app, or even any third-party app as long as it was developed for Hue. It works not only with Apple HomeKit but also Amazon Alexa, Bosch, Nest, and Samsung SmartThings. It also works effectively with other smart gadgets and home devices.

But wait, there’s more! Philips Hue Go comes with 300 lumen light output, on-product control so you can change the light effect, app control, white light and 16 million colours, as well as integrated natural dynamic effects.

This smart gadget is portable light that has a rechargeable battery, enabling you to move it anywhere you want to set the mood lighting. The light can be in synced with your entertainment system, and you can control it with a smartphone so you can conveniently set colour and brightness of a particular space very easily.

Where can you use Philips Hue Go? Thanks to its portability, you can take it in any room at your house to set the mood lighting. For instance, its white ambiance can create white light effects on an open plan kitchen and living room space. You can slightly change the white ambiance to suit other areas of your home.

Here’s another example of where you can use this energy-saving device. The Philips Hue app offers a Routines feature wherein the smart gadget can gently increase the brightness of your room to imitate sunrise so you can wake up in the morning naturally. At night, there’s a Go to Sleep feature that gently dims the light until it is turned off so you can fall asleep easily.

Got other insights on energy-efficient appliances and smart gadgets in Australia? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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How to Save Money on Energy by Investing in Energy Efficient Appliances in Australia

Energy efficient appliances can save you money on your energy consumption in Australia. It’s sometimes hard to imagine just how much money is lost on appliances, because we often forget to keep track. They are just there in the background. But appliances can actually account for up to 30 per cent of your home energy consumption! When thinking about it that way, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade to energy efficient products.

Buying the products is a big part of making the switch, but how you use those products also makes a difference. Turning off appliances and washing with cold water instead of warm are just two examples. Let’s look at all the things you should think about when it comes to energy saving devices.

Are energy efficient products really cheaper than grandma’s old fridge?

Many of us have old electrical appliances that we inherited from family members, and which still work just fine. If your twenty year old oven still has a special place in the kitchen, it can be hard to let go. It may even seem more expensive getting a new one rather than making the old one last a while longer. Why would you cash out for something new and expensive when your fifteen year old tumble dryer is holding up just fine?

A new product will always be more expensive than the appliance you already have, at least when it comes to the cash you will have to initially give out. But buying new energy efficient products isn’t just better for the environment. It will also cost you less in energy in the long run.

If you buy your appliance from new and have to choose between energy saving devices or devices with a higher consumption of energy, it’s usually better to go for the energy saving product. Most of them are a bit more expensive to buy, but you will get that money back eventually in electricity bills.
Less energy consumption also reduces greenhouses gasses which helps reverse climate change.

There is no definite answer to whether or not you should ditch your old machine and go for a new energy efficient device. If you can pay out the cash, the energy consumption will be better and save you money down the road. However, buying new isn’t always an option. So ask yourself what is viable for you.

If you do want to invest in energy saving devices, here are a few tips to get you started.

How to buy energy efficient appliances

It can be a good idea to look for a few different things when investing in an energy efficient device. That way, you will make sure that you get the most out of it as well as cut back on your energy consumption as much as possible. Here are a few things to think about when purchasing energy efficient products.

Look for the Energy Rating Label

Energy efficient devices have come a long way recently. Many appliances sold in Australia have a label called the Energy Rating Label that shows you how much electricity the device uses. The label makes it easier for consumers to choose and also incentivises manufacturers to make appliances that are less energy consuming.

Buy only what you need

A big part of acquiring energy efficient appliances is to only buy what you need. Buy a product that fits the size of your kitchen and provides enough space for what you need it for. A smaller device will take up less energy, so if you don’t need the extra space of a large oven or refrigerator for example, it will pay off to get a smaller size.

There are dishwashers, ovens, fridges and so on in every possible size. It’s entirely possible to customize your choice, so you pick no more and no less than what you need. Get a dishwasher that is small enough to hold only what you need in one wash. Make sure you won’t have perpetual empty shelves in your fridge, and that your oven doesn’t need to heat up a large space if you know you are only going to cook for two people. You get the idea.

How to save money on your devices after bringing them home

Buying your device is of course a big part of the money you are going to spend on it. That is why it’s so important to buy the right thing. However, there is still more money to be saved after you bring it home. How you use it and where you put it also matters.

Position your energy saving device in the right place

Positioning your device in the right spot sometimes makes a difference to how much energy it consumes. What’s better than making an already energy consuming product even more efficient? Use common sense when deciding where to put your appliances. The refrigerator shouldn’t go next to the oven for example, as the heat will make it have to work harder to keep your food cool.
You should also keep fridges and freezer separated by 5-8 cm if you want to save energy. This ensures good air circulation. If you don’t do this you could add up to 15 per cent of the energy price.

Follow the manufacturer’s care instruction

The better your machine works, the better it will run and the longer it will last. It saves you energy over time and of course also prevents expensive repair bills.

Keep your fridge and freezer at the right temperature

There is no need for your fridge or freezer to be colder than it has to be. You pay about 5 per cent more energy every time you set your appliance to a lower temperature. So even if you only have your fridge or freezer a little colder than you have to, you still get to pay a more expensive energy bill. The recommended temperature for the fridge is 3 to 4 degrees Celcius while it’s -15 to -18 for your freezer.

Can smart gadgets save you energy and money?

Smart gadgets are devices that make your home and life smarter. It could be anything from vacuum cleaners that clean your house on their own to water bottles that let you know if you are hydrated enough. While many of these are fun and entertaining at most, a few of them could help you decrease your energy bill.

One of the most innovative smart gadgets on the market today is the smart bulb. You can find different varieties of these, but the concept is always the same. The smart bulb allows you to customize your light settings, and turn it on and off with an app. You can set in advance when you want the light to turn on or off, and you can control the intensity of the light. The bulb can also be used as an alarm clock, by gradually increasing the light in the morning. Or you can set it to turn on when you come home. Usually these lights will be LEDs that last longer than normal lights. So except from the money you can save on having only the lights on you want at a given time, with the intensity you need, you often also get a bulb with a longer life time and lower energy consumption.

There are also many other energy saving gadgets on the market. Other examples are smart radiators that allow you to control the heat in your room, and smart faucets that are designed to avoid wasting water. Thermal leak detectors can help you find where your house is poorly insulated, so you can do something about it. You can also get a shower meter that gets charged by the water running in your shower. It runs completely without electricity, and gives you real life information on how hot your water is, and how much you have used.
Even solar panel garden lights are considered a smart gadget. It practically consumes zero energy and can last for a long time.

The smart gadget market is huge at the moment, so you can find anything from smart fridges to smart cleaners. Many of these won’t make a big difference to your energy bill – but some of them might.

How can you save money on your energy bill?

There are many different ways of saving money on your energy bill. Most people use a mix of these different strategies. Your choice depends on what works best for you.

One thing you can do is to buy an energy saving appliance that has a good Energy Rating Label, and that isn’t too big for your needs. The next step is to maintain it right, so you make sure to utilize all the energy saving properties and extend its lifetime. Smart gadgets are also an option. Some smart gadgets are designed not only to help you simplify your life but also to be more enduring and energy efficient.

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Do Rechargeable Batteries Really Save You Money?

A lot of people in Australia perceive that rechargeable batteries are more cost-effective than the regular alkaline ones. But can you really save money on rechargeable batteries?

For environmental reasons, throwing alkaline batteries are incredibly hazardous. Rechargeable batteries are a great alternative that can reduce toxic waste costs by disposable alkaline. But if you consider the price and the usage of your battery needs, rechargeable batteries may not be financially sensible at all.

Here are some factors you should take into consideration before you switch from disposable batteries to rechargeable batteries.

What are your battery needs?

Look at things in your house that needs batteries. Your wall clocks, TV remotes, flashlights, smoke detectors, and etc. These devices don’t use much energy and they don’t demand battery change regularly. It would take you years to overcome the payback period if you decide to use rechargeable batteries. But if you have devices, or smart gadgets that needs a battery change every 30 to 60 days, then you might want to opt for rechargeable batteries.

How much is the cost of normal batteries vs rechargeable batteries?

The average cost of a 4 pack rechargeable batteries ranges from $15 to $20 depending on the brand, and type (NiMH, NiCad, rechargeable alkaline, or lithium ion). For a battery charger, you will need to shell out $22 for it. On the other hand, disposable alkaline costs only $5 per 4 pack. So if you do the math, you will manage to save about $15 with a disposable one, and save $22 from a charger and electricity bill that the charger will consume.

When to use rechargeable batteries?

Most of the time children’s electronic toys in Australia consumes the most batteries since they don’t often come with an AC adapter. It’s impossible to power them without batteries! For a more energy-efficient choice, rechargeable batteries are a great alternative. Just invest in a good charger to lengthen the life of your rechargeable batteries. They should manage to hold a charge up to 500-800 charge cycles.

How much money will you save on rechargeable batteries?

Your savings on rechargeable batteries may vary for each household. But here’s an example: You use 12 batteries each month, which adds up to 144 batteries a year. For a traditional battery you can spend about $114 to $240 per year (depends whether you buy in bulk or not). With a rechargeable battery you will spend $53 for 12 rechargeable batteries and $22 on the charger with 4 batteries already included, amounting to a total of $75. Your investment will return after a year, and you can save at least $39 to $165.

Conclusion

If you have appliances or devices at home that drains batteries very quickly, rechargeable batteries are highly recommended to save money. But if you only have basic needs for batteries, this may not be cost-effective as your investment will not return very fast as you expected to.

What kind of batteries do you use at home? Comment down below, we’d love to hear your energy-saving strategy.

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3 Weird Smart Gadgets for Your Home

Technology is continuously growing, and it shows no signs of stopping. What comes with it is the ever growing industry of smart gadgets. Energy-efficient products that make our life easier and sometimes, help save us time and money. Innovations emerge so quickly that you’d think an app-controlled device would soon to be a thing of the past.

There are so many smart gadgets out in the market today. Some look so promising, while others seem a bit weird. In fact, you may end up asking yourself if these products are actually necessary for our day-to-day activities. Here are three weird smart gadgets in Australia that you may want to consider for your home:

Sunflower

Ever heard of a patio umbrella that runs on solar power and can do a lot of things other than keeping you out of sun’s harmful rays? Get ready for Sunflower. This energy-efficient product has two security cameras and can be connected to WiFi and via Bluetooth.

Parrot Pot

Fond of plants but never seem to make them grow or keep them alive even for a short period of time? Say hello to Parrot Pot, an auto-watering plant pot that keeps track of your plant. It can even send you essential information to your smartphone. With a Parrot Pot, you may be able to keep your plant from withering.

Luna

Smart gadgets can be useful even while you sleep. In fact, you can sleep on one of them. Luna is a mattress cover that adjusts the temperature of your bed so you can sleep better every time. What’s more, this smart gadget can monitor heart rate and breathing rate as well as your sleeping patterns. Another great thing about Luna is that it can be connected to your other smart gadgets at home. For instance, while you’re sleeping, it can check the temperature and ensure that your door is locked. And when you wake up, there’s coffee waiting for you since it can be connected to your coffee machine through WiFi.

In this day and age when we’re all busy with school, work, and other things, the emergence of new energy-efficient products is always good news. Some of these devices may be quirky and weird, but each has its own benefits. In general, these smart and energy-saving devices can help save you time and money, and make everyday tasks a lot more convenient to do.

Do you know other weird and energy-efficient products in Australia? Share details about other smart gadgets in the comment section.

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