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It’s only natural to stress out slightly when you open the mailbox to see a new electricity bill inside. This stressing out can easily develops into a full-blown panic in the winter and summer months when electric usage is at its peak. It doesn’t matter what climate you live in, you probably spend quite a bit on heating and cooling your home. Numbers would suggest that up to 40% of total electricity costs come from this necessary task alone. Making matters worse, without proper insulation in your home you’re probably losing around 50% of the heated or cooled air you pay to pump into your home. This can be extremely frustrating, not to mention expensive. What can you do to fight back?

Heating Options To Consider This Winter

There are a few things you might want to take care of before we get started. If your home is losing energy, you first need to find a way to prevent this.

  • Insulation: You can alleviate some of these problems by having new insulation put in. If you’ve got a house benefiting from plenty of sunlight, you should consider insulating the ceilings and floors in addition to the walls
  • Shades: Consider having shades installed to help filter out some of the sunlight that is heating your home
  • Draughts: To draught-proof your home, make sure you seal the draughts around all windows and doors

You might have just accepted that having high electricity bills are unavoidable. It’s far more likely, though, that you have wondered if you have any options to combat this soaring cost. The good news is, there’s plenty you can do. Let’s take a look at some other heating options available to you, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each of these options.

1) Central Heating

A central heating system uses a primary heating appliance like a furnace, boiler or heat pump. Depending on where you live, some heating appliances use gas as fuel, some use oil, and others rely on a hybrid of oil and gas. Your heating appliance uses combustion to create hot gasses, and it passes these gases through a heat exchanger. Air from your home is drawn into the heat exchanger so it can be warmed up, and is then belched out through a system of ducts or pipes with the warmed air forced out through vents into your home. There are many benefits to using central air, but there are also inevitably a few downsides.

Benefits

  • Heating the home quickly and evenly, central heating systems are extremely convenient
  • This type of system is relatively inexpensive to install, and repairs and replacements are also fairly affordable
  • You have plenty of control with a central heating system, as you can determine which rooms receive heat. This can help you spend less on energy bills by not heating unused spaces.
  • Central heating systems can often serve double duty as central cooling systems as well, saving you even more money

Drawbacks

  • While working hard to keep all of the rooms in your home warm, central heating systems burn through a lot of energy. This can increase costs so be aware
  • Central heating systems have a reputation of being quite noisy because you can hear the air blowing throughout the system of ducts
  • Central heating systems allow allergens to travel through and be blown about the house. This is no good for any allergy sufferers in your home

2) Gas Space Heaters

A gas heater utilizes gas to produce heat for your home. In the intake duct of the heater, gas enters and meets the flame.
This flame creates heat that flows through a series of tubes inside the heater. Cool air from the room is drawn into the
heater and flows over the heated tubes where it’s heated. In a portable gas heater, this warm air then passes through a heat
exchanger and a fan then blows this heated air out into the room. If a permanently installed gas heater is used, the heated
air moves through the heat exchanger and is forced out into the home through vents. Gas space heaters can burn different
types of gas, but the most commonly used is natural gas.

Benefits

  • Most gas heaters use natural gas which is quite budget-friendly
  • Natural gas is also clean-burning
  • Great at providing a warm heat, gas space heaters are a smart way to supplement an existing heating system
  • Many options to choose from like radiant or convection, flued or unflued, and portable or fixed

Drawbacks

  • While they provide plenty of warmth, they are often not good at providing enough heat on their own. You really need multiple gas space heaters, or to make sure you can move the one you have around the house if it’s portable
  • Any type of can be combustible which is obviously a fire hazard. This type of heater must be used in a well-ventilated area and shouldn’t be left unsupervised
  • Need to be serviced regularly (every 2 years) by a licensed gas fitter, adding to the cost

3) Electric Heaters

Electrical heaters work by converting electrical current into heat. Electrical energy flows through the wires of the heater and this electrical energy is converted into thermal energy. Air is drawn from your home and flows across these heated elements and is then forced out into your home to warm it. There are 3 main types of wires used in electrical heaters:

  • Open wire
  • Open ribbon
  • Tubular cased wire

All wires must be encased in a material that prevents users from experiencing electric shock. Make sure your electrical heating unit has safeguards such as a wire grill to keep the wires from being touched and an automatic shutoff in case of overheating. Here’s a snapshot of the pros and cons of choosing electric heaters to heat up your home.

Benefits

  • Electrical installation of electric heaters is generally simple, as no pipework or flues need to be installed. This also allows them to be placed anywhere within a room
  • Because electrical heating uses no fuel to create heat, there are no risks of explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning
  • With no moving parts that can break down or wear out, electrical heating is a reliable method of heating and should last the distance
  • Electrical heating leaves almost no ecological footprint, meaning it’s a very green method of heating your home as well as economical
  • Many types to choose from including permanent electrical installation heaters, portable heaters, radiant electrical heaters, electrical fan heaters, split system heaters and convection heaters
  • Electric heaters tend to heat up quickly, allowing you to be warm and cozy much sooner

Drawbacks

  • As electrical heating systems use electricity to create the heat necessary to warm the home, they can raise your electricity bill
  • Electrical heating systems should really not be used in wet areas due to the risk of electrical shock. This means you shouldn’t use them in a kitchen or bathroom meaning you’ll be freezing when you step out of the shower
  • If the electricity goes out due to a snowstorm, you’ll be left in the cold. With no electricity, your electrical heating system will evidently be unable to function
  • If using a portable electric heater, they really only work well alongside another heating system. They’re too small to heat entire rooms or whole homes, which means you’ll need to move it around the house with you

4) Wood Heaters

The atmosphere created by a fire blazing in the fireplace on a cold winter evening is tough to beat. It’s not just cozy but the flames are entrancing! In addition to fireplaces, there are also wood burning stoves and pellet stoves. It doesn’t much matter which type of wood heating we are discussing, all wood heating methods work by burning wood products in order to create heat. Some of this wood is sources from fallen trees, some comes from the store, and some comes in the form of specially created pellets that are fed into a special stove. All wood heating methods require work on your part to get them operating and to keep them heating your home. There are some benefits and some drawbacks to using this method of heating your home, so let’s double down on those now before we wrap up.

Benefits

  • Many Australian homes already have open fireplaces, so there’s no need to install anything new
  • Wood is a sustainable resource, making burning wood for heat an environmentally friendly option
  • Wood is cheaper than gas or electricity, so you’ll naturally cut your heating costs
  • If the electricity goes out, you still have a way to keep your family warm
  • If necessary (or perhaps just for fun), you can use the fireplace for cooking
  • Ambiance cannot be recreated with any other method of heating

Drawbacks

  • 90% of the heat created in an open fireplace is lost through the chimney
  • Fire is dangerous and must be continually supervised
  • If you use a system that must be replenished outside the home (like some pellet stoves), you have to go out in the cold to feed wood to the fire so your home stays warm
  • The soot from burning wood is messy, gets everywhere and is hard to clean
  • You must have your chimney cleaned and inspected for safety, otherwise you risk poisoning

Final Word

As you can see, there are many different methods of heating your home and staying warm this winter, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. If you need help determining which is best for you and your home, give us a call and we’ll be only too happy to help!

Many things have changed the way businesses operate over the years, but technological advances have brought about by far the biggest of those changes. This technology innovation has streamlined the way businesses reach out and get involved with their base of customers. Technology also gives businesses the opportunity to improve the way they deliver their products, helps them find areas where they can cut costs and increase productivity, and helps them to improve customer service. All of these things are vital to the success of any business, and technology is a great help. Sometimes though, it can be difficult to accept and integrate new technology. Many people struggle with change, even if that change can bring about better services and profits. If you’re here, you are probably at least somewhat interested in integrating new technologies into your business to help you and your employees work better. Today we’ll explore some of the options at your disposal and give you some useful tips on how to integrate them into your workplace.

Adapting To New Technology

If you’re late to the game in adopting new technology, you can quickly fall behind competitors and this can put your business on the line. To avoid this, you need to stay on top of changing trends and technologies for your field of business, and maintain an awareness of programs and solutions for other areas within your business. More than 30% of Australians feel that having access to new technology innovations is an important workplace benefit. When businesses are more technologically advanced, they are more likely to draw in millennials who are looking for work and who will soon be running businesses themselves. If you want to attract new business, you must have tools in place that are wanted by up-and- coming business owners and professionals.
Cloud-Based Programs – How They Can Help Streamline Processes
You’ve likely got several employees in dozens of roles with each one wearing multiple hats. It’s also probable many of these workers are under quite a bit of stress. Running a business in today’s world is unlike any other time in history, and to stay on top you must be willing to adapt and change at the drop of a hat. There are dozens of cloud-based software programs you can use to alleviate stress and streamline processes in your business. Perhaps the most significant benefit of the cloud is the way you can store and share data regardless of what physical platform you use. Beyond this, you’ll be able to sidestep the need for such a heavily populated IT department as you won’t need to concern yourself with servers or constant maintenance.
Outsource all this to a cloud provider and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. There are plenty of accounting programs to help with billing and receiving, as well as tax preparation, and programs to help streamline the process of hiring new employees and onboarding them. There are cloud-based methods to help you achieve your marketing and advertising goals. All of these things can be done using the cloud and can help your employees work in a smarter way, reducing burnout and stress for everyone. Read on to learn more about how these technology innovations can benefit you.

How To Adapt Your Workplace

When changing anything in your workplace, it’s vital not to implement sweeping changes without warning. Make sure all your staff are prepared to adapt to these changes so you and your team reap the maximum benefit.
1) Keep Your Goals In Mind
Make sure your team is aware of the goal of implementing these new technologies. They’re much more likely to come on board without grumbling if they understand the bigger picture.
2) Explain Clearly
Again, employees and staff are much more likely to be receptive to change if they feel everything is transparent. Make surethe whole team understands why these changes are being made, how they are being made and how they will benefit everyone in the business.
3) Train Well
Make sure you train your team well on how to use these programs to their full potential. Show them how they will streamline processes and smooth out workflow. Try to customize the training experience so each team member has some ownership over these changes. Perhaps select a few employees at the outset, and train them beforehand so that they already have an understanding of the programs before you move on to training the whole company.
4) Get Feedback
Make sure you get feedback from your team. If something just isn’t working the way you anticipated, you need to know. Be prepared for negative and positive feedback. Just keep working toward the common goal of better productivity and a streamlined process.

Types of Technologies and Benefits

Cloud-based software is being used by businesses around the globe to improve operations and integrations of other parts of the organization at hand. Cloud technology gives business owners the power to give others within the organization access to all necessary information via cloud-based platforms that can be accessed from anywhere. Organisational partners or employees can access this information through a secure portal on the Internet, or through a cloud-based platform on a mobile device.
Also, owners have the ability to grant or revoke access at any time without needing to get others involved, and this can improve security. Cloud technology has helped businesses and organisations to slash money spent on onsite servers and equipment necessary for running day-to-day operations. Without the need for on-site technology solutions, organisations can also save money on IT staff responsible for operating and maintaining these servers. With the advent of cloud technology, a cloud provider is responsible for the updates, maintenance, security, and backups of information. We know it can be a real headache to gather all documentation for hiring and orienting new clients and employees, keeping track of information for tax credits and the like, tracking authorisations for work, and managing a hundred other behind the scenes administrative tasks. Not only must these tasks be properly carried out but generally a business needs employees in several different departments to ensure these things are done. These employees cost money, and the whole situation is a high-pressure area for managerial staff. Making use of a cloud-based software system can greatly improve the process of compliance automation. If you’re a person who needs to see the numbers to understand the full picture, take a look at this. When compared to organisations that still use traditional hiring methods, organisations that have switched to using cloud-based software to streamline their hiring and onboarding process for new employees enjoy a 9% increase in productivity with these new hires. If you’re looking for help in the accounting department, instead of hiring new employees, consider switching to a cloud-based tax software. Businesses that have done this have slashed 90% of the paperwork used in traditional tax preparation. In addition to tax preparation help, you can also use cloud-based softwares to bill your customers for services provided. Reducing the amount of time managerial staff spends on administrative tasks is crucial for any growing company or organisation. Freeing up this time will allow them to focus on the growth of the business rather than mundane tasks that can be easily automated with the use of cloud technology.
Saving paper not only saves money, but is eco-friendly. If you’re a franchise style business looking for ways to streamline your information, training, compliance and other important goals throughout your company, cloud technology makes sense too. Using a VPN (virtual private network) allows you to share information across a private network. You can allow employees, contractors and others to securely access this network anytime and from anywhere. No longer must your franchisee on the other side of the country wait on your availability, because they can access the information needed right when they need it through the VPN. Along those same lines, you could create an app in the cloud-based software that would allow your mobile workers to be tethered to the home office of the business whenever necessary as well. When working in the field, they can use the app to make appointments, schedule maintenance, order supplies and bill customers in- app. Expanding your business used to be quite an ordeal, but with technology innovation offering new solutions regularly, it is easier than ever before to achieve growth. Technology innovation brings the ability to gather important details from social media, current and former customers and other sources. You can then use this information to help your team develop marketing plans that will target a specific group of people. Let’s say you can tell that the majority of your customers are in Perth, but you wish to extend your reach slightly farther. You can use the information that’s been gathered to build a marketing initiative full of offers and promotions geared directly toward the customers in the specific region you want to expand into. Without using a cloud-based software driven by cloud technology, it would be impractical to build a marketing program like this. There’s just too much data available for people to sift through and find the important bits. Harnessing the power of a cloud-based software is the only way to get the needed insights for a goal such as this. Marketing is vital to the growth and expansion of any business and you should take advantage of these innovations in technology to stay on top.

Final Word

Change can cause apprehension for anyone, especially people who are used to doing things in one specific way. Making sure your team is engaged and understands the purpose of this change can go a long way in ensuring the transition to a business rooted in cloud technology works thrives.

Without electricity, modern life comes to a grinding halt. When the power goes out, you can’t light, heat or cool your house properly. Many people can’t even prepare a simple meal without power. With lines of communication down and even the TV dead, everything seems in meltdown. So much of our day-to-day is dependent upon electricity, and when the power fades it can bring about a huge headache. There’s a big difference between a storm tripping a breaker and a potentially dangerous electrical accident at home, though. You can’t completely avoid the storm, but there are plenty of sensible precautions you can take to prevent electrical accidents. Today, we’ve got 7 simple tips showing you how to avoid electrical accidents at home.

1) Never Overload Your Sockets

Perhaps the easiest rule to follow, and unfortunately one of the most frequently ignored, is that you should never load your sockets with too many appliances. Using extension cords is fine, provided you use one with protective safety features. Some extension cables have a special fuse that will shut off the power if the fuse becomes overloaded. Also, pay attention to how the cord is rated. If it’s only rated for indoor use, don’t use it outside because it won’t cope with exposure to the elements. If you find yourself continually using extension cords in a specific part of your home, consider hiring a licensed electrician to install additional sockets in this spot instead. When plugging  things into your sockets, use only one plug per socket. We understand that many homes simply don’t have enough outlets and that dual plugs can extend the usefulness of specific outlets. However, you can’t safely attach several dual plugs in each socket and then run extension cords from these. Doing this is just asking for trouble.

2) Safety Of Your Sockets

Being aware of socket safety is another important rule of thumb when it comes to electrical hazards. To avoid any electrical accidents at home, there are a few things you can do differently. When you are tempted to jerk the cord out of the wall instead of walking over and unplugging it gently, think again. This jerking motion can be dangerous and is highly likely to cause damage to the outlet, the plug or the appliance the cord is attached to. If you’ve got small children at home, you need to be especially aware of your sockets and if they pose any threats. Children are curious, and many a child has come to grief when exploring sockets. To prevent your youngster from being burned, zapped, or electrocuted, you need to purchase safety caps for your outlets and place them on any that are not in use.

3) Maintain Your Sockets

Just like everything else in your home, your electrical sockets need proper maintenance. Set a schedule to regularly examine the appearance of your electrical areas. Look at the sockets, the plugs and the cords to check for any defects. In your cords, you do not want to see any exposed wiring and if there are any twists or kinks you need to undo them sharpish. Pay attention to any other flaws you notice. Check for plugs that are bent out of shape and fix them. If there are any indications of burning on the plugs, you need to call a licensed electrician. As for your sockets, check to make sure they are not loose from the wall and that there are no burn marks around them at all. If either of these issues is a problem in your home, call a licensedelectrician to fix it properly.

4) Exposed Wires

As mentioned above, you want to be sure there are no visible wires in your appliance cords. If you can see through the coating down to bare electrical wires in places, this is highly dangerous and needs to be handled immediately. You should also avoid hiding cords. Yes, the cord might be unsightly running across the rug and it might be a trip hazard but this is a whole lot better than a house fire. When cords are hidden under rugs or behind furniture, you can’t see them or the condition they’re in. You won’t be able to tell if they’ve overheated or frayed so make sure they remain in plain sight. If you plug something into an outlet, do not push furniture in front of this spot. Doing so could cause the cord to bend. A cord that remains bent could easily start arcing electricity. With furniture in close proximity, this could quickly start a dangerous fire. You must do all you can to maintain visible wires and cords in your home, even if they look like an eyesore. Electricity creates heat and cords need to be able to stay as cool as possible. When cords are covered up, they are unable to properly cool down which can result in overheating leading to electrical accidents at home.

5) Keep Liquids Away

Everyone knows liquids and electricity do not mix well together. Not only can the water suck any life from your electrical appliances if they come into contact, but the shock of electricity and water can give you quite a zap, perhaps even fatally. You must be extremely vigilant when it comes to electricity and liquids. You should do everything you can to keep electrical cords, plugs and appliances away from any liquids. There are many electrical appliances habitually used in rooms prone to getting wet, like the kitchen or the bathroom. When using your electric hair tools or small cooking appliances, you need to make certain you keep them away from liquids. Be sure you’ve got dry hands when you’re handling these tools and appliances as well. If your cord or plug are wet, allow them to fully dry before using the appliance attached to them. Make sure you’re not standing in water while drying your hair or filling your electric kettle, and do not use anything electronic while you’re in the tub or shower. If your plugged-in appliance does somehow get wet, do not try to unplug it from the socket. Instead, go to the electrical box in your home and find what controls the power in the room where the wet plug is and shut it off.

6) Power Off Your Appliances

Another thing you can do to prevent electrical accidents at home is to turn all appliances off when they are not being used. When your appliances and cords are plugged in, electricity is flowing through them. It can be easy to get zapped by these things if they are not turned off. When you’re finished up with any electrical appliance, get into the habit of unplugging it or turn off the appliances at the switch. Once your water is boiled, unplug the kettle. When your mobile phone is charged and no longer needs to be plugged in, unplug it. Turning off appliances is especially important when it comes to anything that generates heat. You don’t necessarily need to heat vacant rooms so when you leave a room, unplug or turn off the heater.

When you’re getting ready to leave home for the day, go through and make sure your appliances are all unplugged and your lights are turned off at the switch. Doing this can not only help to prevent electrical accidents, it can also help to lower your electricity bill since fewer things will be drawing power when not in use.

7) Keep Wires Cool

Electricity generates heat, and this heat causes wires and cords to become hot. Over time this can weaken the protective layer that holds in the wiring and results in defects to the cords. It is vital that cords are allowed to remain as cool as possible so this doesn’t happen in a hurry. Wire heat can swiftly become problematic. Also, many electrical appliances are in use in the kitchen, and many of the most popular appliances are pretty small. Cords can easily get strung about and before you realize what’s happening there might be a cord melting where you were just making your morning muesli. To avoid this, pay attention to the position of cords and wires, and make sure they are not being exposed unnecessarily to heat. Also, when you are finished up with any appliance, allow it ample time to cool off before placing it back into its storage cupboard.

This is especially important when it comes to appliances like toasters that produce heat themselves. Not only will the wire heat cause problems, but hot appliances in closed-off cupboards can quickly become a fire hazard.

Final Word

There are many dangers lurking when it comes to electricity, but there are also plenty of steps you can take to help prevent electrical accidents at home. Think about these simple tips and you can remove potential hazards and make your home safer. If you have any questions or you’re in any way concerned electrics in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch.