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Brutalism is back with a luxury twist

<p dir="ltr">Known for bold lines, stark colours and minimalist designs, brutalism has come back into the fore, this time with some added luxury.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though the hallmarks of the controversial architectural trend remain - think clean lines, a colour scheme featuring grey, and concrete as a material of choice - this new iteration emphases beauty and comfort.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We call this look Brutal Beauty - it celebrates the popular architectural and interior aesthetic of Brutalism, but in a more inviting and appealing way," Heather Nette King, an interior stylist and style ambassador for Carpet Court, explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Designers and architects are putting a contemporary spin on the Brutalist aesthetic by using raw concrete in new and inventive ways – think kitchen islands, furniture, benchtops, cabinetry and even home accessories. And they’re introducing contrasting materials, such as beautiful, textured fabrics and luxurious metallics, to add softness and elegance. </p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-2d627624-7fff-1ab1-b9c5-23ce5303706d"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s a celebration of contrasts, resulting in homes that speak of minimalism, yet feel refined, sophisticated and supremely comfortable."</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/08/brutal-beauty1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>The revived trend of Brutalism, known as Brutal Beauty, features raw concrete, minimalist design, and luxurious accents. Image: Carpet Court</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Using raw concrete as a primary design element has surged in recent years according to King, appearing in new builds and extensions across the country.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It speaks of strength, authenticity and our growing desire to live more simply – the idea of building once and building well," she adds.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As a look, Brutal Beauty works particularly well in new dwellings or contemporary renovations where architectural ornamentation is quite minimal."</p> <p dir="ltr">If you're thinking of incorporating some aspects of Brutal Beauty into your home, Nette King has four top tips to help you out.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Rein in the colours</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to Brutalism and colour, a minimal selection is best. Nette King recommends setting the mood of your home with layers and light and dark greys across your flooring and upholstery, accented with bold black art and accessories.</p> <p dir="ltr">To keep your spaces feeling open and bright, she suggests using white on your walls and ceilings.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Opt for furniture with strong, sculptured lines</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-93a56779-7fff-5bc2-9187-741697291df2"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Brutalism is all about defined lines and minimalism, which you can embrace with minimalist seating and coffee and dining tables with simple, curved lines.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/08/brutal-beauty2.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Bold artworks, a limited colour palette and furniture with simple, curved lines are hallmarks of Brutal Beauty. Image: Carpet Court</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Comfort is key</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Unlike its predecessor, luxury and comfort are key considerations. Nette King suggests furnishing your spaces with deep-seated sofas, upholstered bedheads and tactile bedlinen to emphasise the sense of luxury.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Add warmth with timber</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">With critics of Brutalism describing its limited colour scheme as cold, selecting cabinetry or furniture featuring rich timber tones, such as walnut, can help you avoid this and create some cosiness in your home.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7184a3fb-7fff-abfd-6a92-f9e434229287"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Carpet Court</em></p>

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5 signs you need new towels

<p dir="ltr">Sadly, even if you have taken good care of your towels, there comes a time in every towel's life when they are no longer useful and need to be replaced.  </p> <h3 dir="ltr">5 signs you need new towels</h3> <p dir="ltr">Here are five clear signs it's time to say goodbye to your old faithful bathroom towels.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">1. No longer soft and fluffy</h3> <p dir="ltr">As your towels age, they will lose what you loved about them the most: their fluffy exterior. Once they lose that softness, towels start to feel stiff and scratchy. If this happens to your towels, it might be time for some new ones. </p> <p dir="ltr">Keep your towels softer for longer by following these <a href="https://www.bhg.com.au/how-to-wash-new-towels-the-secret-to-fresh-fluffy-soft-towels">towel washing tips</a>.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">2. Not absorbent</h3> <p dir="ltr">The purpose of a towel is to remove water after your shower. If you find that you have to dry yourself several times before you're actually dry, then it's time to say goodbye. </p> <h3 dir="ltr">3. Rips and holes</h3> <p dir="ltr">A more obvious sign that your towel has seen better days is it's starting to fall apart. Holes, rips and frays mean it is time for new towels.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">4. They smell</h3> <p dir="ltr">A smelly towel is not a good sign. Towels left damp for too long will develop a musty smell. Likewise, if you put them in the wash and forget about them, you will need to rewash them to avoid bacteria growth. If your towel starts to smell after only a few uses, no matter how you wash it, then there's a chance there are bacteria embedded in the fibres, and it's time to toss it out. </p> <h3 dir="ltr">5. They won't stop shedding</h3> <p dir="ltr">New towels will shed to some degree initially. Still, if your towels continue to lose fibres, it could be a sign of poor manufacturing. When searching for a new towel, ensure the cotton is pre-combed.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">How to recycle old towels</h3> <p dir="ltr">Thankfully, there are a few options for your old towels to avoid ending up in landfills. </p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-44898792-7fff-4d30-e9f8-f8b575f23d3e"></span></p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">The recycling program, Upparel will take all of your old towels (and other unsellable clothes), and recycle them into furniture and other bits and pieces. </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Call your local animal shelter and see if they need any old towels or sheets.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Alternatively, your local mechanic might appreciate some old towels and sheets to work with. </p> </li> </ul> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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4 ways to clean your shower screen naturally

<p dir="ltr">Whether your glass shower screen is covered in those irritating hazy grey spots or, in extreme cases, you can no longer see through it, now is the time to take action.</p> <p dir="ltr">Best natural ways to clean shower glass</p> <p dir="ltr">Start by slipping on your gloves, rinse the glass thoroughly with water, wipe it over with a soft sponge, then try one of these popular methods to bring back the shine.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">1. Lemon shower cleaner</h3> <p dir="ltr">Pour straight lemon juice (freshly squeezed or bottled concentrate) onto a soft sponge. Wipe the dampened sponge over all the glass surfaces. Leave the lemon juice to work its magic for a few minutes. Thoroughly rinse away lemon juice with plenty of clean water or white vinegar then water. Dry glass to a shine with paper towel.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">2. Vinegar shower spray</h3> <p dir="ltr">Bringing the shine back to shower screen is easy with cleaning vinegar. Pour white vinegar into a spray bottle. You may wish to dilute the vinegar up to 50/50 with water and add a squeeze of lemon for a fresh scent. Drench the glass surfaces with the vinegar solution. Leave for a few minutes then work over the stains with a soft sponge or soft-bristled brush. Apply more solution if necessary. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. Dry glass to a shine with paper towel.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">3. Baking soda shower scrub</h3> <p dir="ltr">For tougher stains, head to your pantry and pull out baking soda. Make a thick paste by mixing baking soda with a little water. Smear the paste over the glass using a dampened sponge or soft-bristled toothbrush (you should avoid using coarse brushes and scrubbers as they may scratch your glass). Pay more attention to stubborn stains, particularly around door hinges and framework. Rinse with clean water then dry glass to a shine with paper towel.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">4. Toothpaste shower cleaning hack</h3> <p dir="ltr">Swap out the homemade baking soda and water paste for regular white toothpaste. While you can buy the most inexpensive toothpaste for the job, the best type of toothpaste to use is something with a simple ingredient list. Apply the paste to a dampened soft sponge, work it over the glass surfaces, then rinse with plenty of clean water. Repeat this process, if necessary. Dry glass thoroughly with paper towel. Ahh… minty fresh!</p> <h3 dir="ltr">Best and easiest way to clean glass shower doors</h3> <p dir="ltr">If you are looking for something a little tougher, Cerapol Ceramic and Induction Stove Top cleaner to transform her cloudy glass shower screen, which had built-up soap scum.</p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-b3e86dcd-7fff-9715-2ba2-58102412cc3f"></span></p>

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How to live in a double-storey home with two fake knees

<p>After working tirelessly to build her risk management company over the past 30 years, Norine had a very clear vision of the “forever home” she wanted to find to begin her retirement.</p> <p>“For a long time, I lived in high-rise apartment in the Melbourne CBD without a garden of my own,” says the self-confessed green thumb. “And so, in retirement, I wanted to have a small garden, live close to public transport and my family, with a spare room for guests and an office – because, if I’m honest, I couldn’t imagine not doing some work at least for a few years.</p> <p>“Prior to my first knee replacement, the orthopaedic surgeon indicated that replacement knee joints would last 16 to 20 years or longer, depending on how I used them. He said that stairs, particularly going downstairs, wears the knee joint due to the impact of weight on each step and the risk of falling.</p> <p>“I soon found out that to get everything I wanted in my forever home, I would have to buy a double storey home. So, I needed a solution.”</p> <p><img class="alignnone wp-image-21353 size-full" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/07/NEW_O6O_Norine-Lift-from-Front.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p>Norine’s extensive background in risk management and workplace safety meant that she had the tools to undertake a risk assessment approach to living in retirement. “I basically went about researching ‘How to live in a double-storey home with two fake knees’,” she explains. What she discovered immediately seemed to make sense to her professional point of view.</p> <p>“Firstly, it was a no brainer,” says Norine. “I needed a lift functionality on a day-to-day basis. I wanted a lift that was compact, unobtrusive and simple to operate, while transporting anything from a cup of coffee to a heavy plant upstairs.</p> <p>“I also investigated the downside of lifts, particularly doors malfunctioning. That rang true to me since there were so many times in my CBD apartment when the lift doors were out of order. I didn’t want the expense nor inconvenience associated with lift door malfunctions.”</p> <p>In her research, Norine discovered a doorless lift, which meant it was simple and quick to use. “I did a risk assessment on the doorless lift design,” she says. “For me, it was a far safer option – it’s more likely I could be caught out with a non-functioning door than fall from a lift with a safety grip.</p> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21270" src="http://www.wyza.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/WYZA_Norine-Lift-with-Stairs-132259.jpg" alt="" width="880" height="500" /></p> <p>“<a href="https://resilift.com.au/?utm_source=O60&amp;utm_medium=website_article" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RESiLIFT</a> is the only residential lift on the market that is doorless, and it ticked my other safety boxes too,” says Norine. “The lift has a manual override, which means I can lower the lift myself in the unlikely event of a power outage.</p> <p>“The mechanism to operate the lift means you hold down a button to move in any direction. As soon as you remove your finger off the button the lift stops. This makes it pretty foolproof, and I still have one hand free for my coffee cup!”</p> <p>Norine then set about obtaining the dimensions of the various models on offer and used these to determine the practicality of lift installation at every “open for inspection” home she visited.</p> <p>“Once I found the home I hoped to buy, a <a href="https://resilift.com.au/?utm_source=O60&amp;utm_medium=website_article" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RESiLIFT</a> representative came with a template to confirm it was suitable,” Norine recalls. “All of this happened prior to me making an offer on a home.”</p> <p>What happened next only helped confirm to Norine that she was on a winner, in both a practical and stylistic sense. “When I bought the house, I positioned my lift in the corner of the dining room,” she says. “Recently, I had eight friends for dinner, and the next day a friend emailed me to say that she’d forgotten to check out the lift – where was it? I explained that it had been about two feet way from where she had been sitting.</p> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21272" src="http://www.wyza.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/WYZA_Norine-in-Lift-with-Coffee-120159_body.jpg" alt="" width="880" height="500" /></p> <p>“The lift is now quite a point of entertainment with friends given it’s practically invisible yet extremely effective.</p> <p>“I have the <a href="https://resilift.com.au/?utm_source=O60&amp;utm_medium=website_article" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RESiLIFT</a> Miracle, which is large enough for a walker should I need one in the future. The specs say that it is for two people, but you need to be friends!”</p> <p>It’s been almost a year since Norine moved in – and in all that time she has only used the stairs three times in total, “Which is exactly what I wanted,” she says.</p> <p>“I now have my forever home with garden, and everything is set up for perfect and safe retirement living. It wouldn’t be possible without a <a href="https://resilift.com.au/?utm_source=O60&amp;utm_medium=website_article" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RESiLIFT</a>.</p> <p><strong><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with </em></strong><a href="https://resilift.com.au/?utm_source=O60&amp;utm_medium=website_article" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><em>RESiLIFT</em></strong></a><strong><em>.</em></strong></p>

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4 ways to dehumidify your home

<p dir="ltr">Normally welcomed in some parts of the country, the recent rain has brought an influx of another, spottier problem into our homes: mould.</p> <p dir="ltr">Reducing the humidity in the air is one of the best ways to keep mould at bay - which has seen dehumidifiers become a hot commodity and a rare find.</p> <p dir="ltr">But before you start on your quest to find one of those elusive devices, here are some simple DIY options you can try to stave off those pesky black spots.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Silica gel packets</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Instead of throwing away these tiny sachets in your packets of food, new electronics, or bottles of vitamins, keep them in a plastic container and poke some holes in the lid to create your own dehumidifier.</p> <p dir="ltr">The packets contain silicon dioxide in its gel form, which is made up of millions of tiny pores that can absorb and hold moisture.</p> <p dir="ltr">Place the container wherever it’s needed and be sure to keep it out of reach of kids and pets.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Rock salt dehumidifier</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Salt is another easy (and cheap) option for absorbing moisture - and all you’ll need to make your own rock salt dehumidifier is just two buckets and some salt.</p> <p dir="ltr">First, cut some holes in the first bucket and place it inside the second bucket. Then, fill the first bucket with salt and it’s ready to use - though you will need to empty the outer bucket as it fills up with liquid.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Baking soda</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Baking soda is just good for baking, and you can add dehumidifying to its list of handy uses.</p> <p dir="ltr">It works best in small spaces, like the tops of wardrobes or cupboards, and is as simple as filling a small bowl with baking soda and replacing it as needed.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Plants</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">On top of adding some greenery to your spaces, certain kinds of plants can also reduce the amount of moisture in the air.</p> <p dir="ltr">Plants with waxy or hairy leaves, such as cacti, or those with large leaves are your best choice, with top picks including peace lilies, lilacs, spider plants, aloe vera, English ivy, air plants and Boston ferns.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-7c3b500f-7fff-93c2-8390-4a631b1f4e42"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Heat yourself, not your house: how to survive winter with a 15℃ indoor temperature

<p>How high should you put the heating up over winter? If you don’t mind the bills and ecological impact, you have the encouragement of the World Health Organization to keep the house warm. They recommend an indoor temperature of <a href="https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/275839/WHO-CED-PHE-18.03-eng.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">at least 18°</a>, declaring that you face health risks at lower temperatures. This advice is echoed by the <a href="https://www.energy.gov.au/households/household-guides/seasonal-advice/winter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Australian government</a>. The tone of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535294" target="_blank" rel="noopener">some reports</a> is monitory and severe.</p> <p>Based on these instructions, anyone would feel a reflex to bump up the thermostat. But before you brace for the bill-shock amid soaring energy prices, consider a different approach. Some people cope positively with the freeze and others face deep winter with panic. Given the range of psychological responses, I can only imagine there would be a difference in how people’s health would fare. If I’m full of dread at the prospect of feeling chilly, this stress could aggravate existing health issues.</p> <p>It is entirely possible to avoid heating your entire house to 18℃ to stay warm. If you view your cold house as a project, you can take pleasure in the power of staying warm in your modern cave, while remembering that we evolved to withstand the cold with fewer options than we have today.</p> <p><strong>Staying warm in a cold house</strong></p> <p>Over the last couple of winters, I’ve discovered many strategies for comfortable living at lower room temperatures. To add to traditional methods such as multiple layers of clothing and physical activity, there are now excellent appliances to fend off the chill. Personal heating devices have become rightly popular, such as electrical heated throw rugs to <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/90022948" target="_blank" rel="noopener">warm your clothing</a> rather than ambient air.</p> <p>These new devices – think a more flexible electric blanket – are extremely efficient. Canberra energy efficiency enthusiast David Southgate found using these devices rather than heating the air <a href="https://southgateaviation.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/2019-annual-report-v2.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cut his heating bill</a> by 95%.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/472222/original/file-20220704-18-sz6rcn.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="electric throw" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Electric throw rugs and other personal heating devices are gaining popularity.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Personally, I have found adequate clothing makes a temperature of 15℃ acceptable. In fact, dressing warmly poses more risk of overheating with low levels of activity. It’s satisfying to create your own warmth rather than rely on artificially supplied warmth. You start to notice thermodynamic properties of clothing that you’d never appreciate by relying on a thermostat.</p> <p>If you wear a hooded gown, you’ll find not only that your ears are warm from being covered, but your uncovered face becomes flushed. That’s because warmth generated by your body wafts upward to escape through the aperture of the hood. As a result, the air that you breathe is also warm.</p> <p>When it comes to clothing, we can equate warmth simply with insulation. In turn, we assess the insulating qualities of textiles with their thickness or <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/warmest-materials-fabrics-winter-clothing/101155486" target="_blank" rel="noopener">air-trapping abilities</a>. We often tend to overlook the design of the clothing, which plays a key role in funnelling body warmth to exposed skin. The archetype of the hood was known two millennia before thermostats in both Greece (the garments μαφόρτης and κάλυμμα) and Rome (the garments <em>cucullus</em>, <em>lacerna</em> and <em>tunica palliolata</em>). They’re just as effective today.</p> <p>Wearing a cowl won’t warm up your hands; but if the rest of you is warm – especially your feet – your exposed hands will benefit by the circulation. For anyone unconvinced by this assurance, fingerless gloves are a backstop.</p> <p>The way medical science has catastrophised indoor temperatures lower than 18℃ wouldn’t be so bad if it were only incurious and unimaginative. Alas, there are alarming ecological consequences of a population believing that they’ll automatically get sick in the cold.</p> <p>Carbon emissions from domestic heating are significant. You get a picture from gas bills in Queensland, which go up 1.4 times from summer to winter. In colder states, the figure is <a href="https://www.energycouncil.com.au/analysis/winter-energy-bills-avoid-a-shock" target="_blank" rel="noopener">much higher</a>: 3.5 times in Victoria and 5.2 times in nippy Tasmania. We have to scrutinise if we really need our thermostats pegged at 18℃.</p> <p>Before we accept recommendations on indoor temperatures by medical authorities, we need to know if the science has grappled with different experiences of cold.</p> <p>Future research must distinguish between people in a cool room who feel cold and miserable or feel protected against cold by a range of practical measures.</p> <p>Understanding the effect of these variables is urgent, because current authoritative guidance pushes us into heating our houses more than we have to. For most of the world, that means burning fossil fuel.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/185587/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-nelson-1355694" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Robert Nelson</a>, Honorary Principal Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heat-yourself-not-your-house-how-to-survive-winter-with-a-15-indoor-temperature-185587" target="_blank" rel="noopener">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Carbon monoxide: what is it and why is it deadly?

<p>Many of us are familiar with the typical results of burning fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. The reaction produces heat which we harness to warm our homes, heat water and cook food, power vehicles and generate electricity. </p> <p>Combustion also produces gases, most obviously carbon dioxide. This is produced when the carbon, locked away in the petrol, gas or wood, reacts with oxygen in the air. We can’t see or smell carbon dioxide – it’s non-toxic and is unreactive – so most of the time as it drifts away into the air around us and we don’t give it a moment’s thought. </p> <p>But carbon dioxide isn’t the only gas that results from burning of fuels. Carbon monoxide can also be produced. This too is invisible, tasteless and odourless. Unlike its chemical cousin, though, carbon monoxide is extremely poisonous. </p> <p>The difference between the two gases is small but very significant. </p> <p>Carbon dioxide has a central carbon atom flanked by two oxygens, hence the “di” (meaning two) in the name, and the chemical formula CO₂. It is a very stable molecule because the carbon atom has fully reacted with the oxygens, leaving it with no potential to form bonds with anything else. </p> <p>Carbon monoxide consists of a carbon and a single oxygen (hence the “mono” in the name and the formula CO). As a result the carbon is still able to react with other molecules. This reactivity is the root of its poisonous nature.</p> <h2>Carbon monoxide poisoning</h2> <p>Carbon monoxide poisoning results from the way it interacts with proteins that carry oxygen around your body. Normally haemoglobin in your blood binds oxygen as it passes through your lungs and then releases it where it is needed in the various organs of your body. Carbon monoxide also binds to haemoglobin, and it sticks over 200 times stronger than oxygen. This means it blocks the haemoglobin’s ability to bind oxygen and limits the body’s ability to move oxygen around the body. </p> <p>The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches or dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, tiredness, chest and stomach pains and visual problems. These are quite general and are easily confused with viral infections, food poisoning or just being tired. So low level poisoning is often overlooked. Higher doses result in loss of consciousness, long term heart and brain damage and death. </p> <p>So how can we avoid being poisoned by this gas? Carbon monoxide is produced at high levels when fuels aren’t burnt correctly. This frequently occurs when wood, coal and charcoal fires are left to smoulder, or petrol, gas and kerosene appliances (such as boilers and space heaters) are not maintained properly. This is especially dangerous if generators, charcoal burners or barbecues are used in confined and poorly ventilated spaces such as tents and bars which allow CO to build up in the space with deadly consequences. </p> <p>Early <a href="https://ewn.co.za/2022/06/30/carbon-monoxide-may-have-caused-enyobeni-tavern-deaths-paul-o-sullivan">media</a> reports suggest that carbon monoxide caused the deaths of <a href="https://www.news24.com/citypress/news/enyobeni-tavern-tragedy-what-we-know-so-far-20220627">21 young people</a> at a tavern (club) in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province in June. However, officials are still investigating and are yet to confirm the cause of these tragic deaths. </p> <h2>Keeping safe</h2> <p>Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, but it can also be easily avoided.</p> <p><strong>Maintenance:</strong> Make sure your vehicles, boilers, chimneys, generators and space heaters are inspected and maintained by a qualified technician at least once a year. During the rest of the year, check that gas flames are blue and not yellow or orange. And look out for soot around appliances and pilot lights that go out frequently.</p> <p><strong>Ventilation:</strong> Never use camp stoves, barbecues or charcoal heaters indoors or in tents. Only ever use petrol and diesel generators outdoors and well away from open windows and doors. Never use gas space heaters while you are sleeping, and only ever use them in well ventilated spaces. Never leave a vehicle running in a garage.</p> <p><strong>Monitoring:</strong> Buy carbon monoxide monitors and install them near boilers, fireplaces and anywhere where you might use an indoor space heater.</p> <p><strong>Seek treatment:</strong> If you think you or anyone near you is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning then seek medical treatment.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/carbon-monoxide-what-is-it-and-why-is-it-deadly-186949" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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This common bathroom practice could send germs flying everywhere

<p>No matter how thorough you are with cleaning your bathroom, there's one common mistake you could be making that regularly fills the space with germs.</p> <p>According to home hacks expert Stephanie Booth, that habit is leaving the toilet lid up when you flush. You’ll probably never do it again once you hear what she has to say about it in a TikTok.</p> <blockquote class="tiktok-embed" style="max-width: 605px; min-width: 325px;" cite="https://www.tiktok.com/@stephanieboothrealtor/video/7118543514652331310" data-video-id="7118543514652331310"> <section><a title="@stephanieboothrealtor" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@stephanieboothrealtor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@stephanieboothrealtor</a> Who’s still flushing their toilet with the lid open? Close that lid to stop all the nasty bacteria 💩from coming out of your toilet and landing on all your bathroom surfaces <a title="tiptok" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/tiptok" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#tiptok</a> <a title="germs" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/germs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#germs</a> <a title="hometips" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/hometips" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#hometips</a> <a title="bathroomcleaning" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/bathroomcleaning" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#bathroomcleaning</a> <a title="♬ original sound - Stephanie Booth" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/original-sound-7118543498755885870" target="_blank" rel="noopener">♬ original sound - Stephanie Booth</a></section> </blockquote> <p>"Flushing with the lid open launches all that nasty bacteria from what you just put into the toilet, into the air. And all that bacteria lands on all the nearby surfaces, including your toothbrush," she said.</p> <p>If you're wondering just how true this claim is, it's been backed up by Australia's favourite scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, explaining why it’s such a gross habit in a video of his own.</p> <blockquote class="tiktok-embed" style="max-width: 605px; min-width: 325px;" cite="https://www.tiktok.com/@drkarl/video/7079283645491547394" data-video-id="7079283645491547394"> <section><a title="@drkarl" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@drkarl" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@drkarl</a> Do you need scientific evidence to make your housemates flush with the toilet lid shut? Here you go 😎 <a title="drkarl" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/drkarl" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#drkarl</a> <a title="drkarlkruszelnicki" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/drkarlkruszelnicki" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#drkarlkruszelnicki</a> <a title="science" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/science" target="_blank" rel="noopener">#science</a> <a title="♬ original sound - Dr Karl" href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/original-sound-7079283621965728513" target="_blank" rel="noopener">♬ original sound - Dr Karl</a></section> </blockquote> <p>"If you flush with the toilet lid up a polluted plume of bacteria and water vapour just erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl," he said.</p> <p>"The polluted water particles, they float around for a few hours around your bathroom before they all eventually land, they will land, and some of them could even land on your toothbrush.</p> <p>Putting the lid down before flushing is even more important if your toilet is right next to the bathroom vanity where your toothbrush holder sits.</p> <p>In addition to putting the toilet lid down before flushing, cleaning the toilet on a weekly basis using disinfectant will also help keep the potential for germs spreading down.</p> <p><em>Image: TikTok</em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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Ikea revolutionises second-hand shopping

<p dir="ltr">Furniture giant Ikea has launched a new online shopping platform that gives its unwanted and returned items a new lease on life. </p> <p dir="ltr">Launched by Ikea Australia, the <a href="https://www.ikea.com/au/en/campaigns/a-second-chance-for-our-furniture-pub06dd9d21#/">As-Is Online</a> platform allows customers to browse and reserve second-hand items. </p> <p dir="ltr">After reserving an item online, customers can visit their selected store to complete the purchase and collect their ‘new’ furniture or homewares from the As-Is area, located just before the checkouts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Items that will be available include discontinued products, “gently used” and ex-showroom displays, as well as pre-loved products returned through the Buy Back service.</p> <p dir="ltr">The best part of the As-Is platform is that customers can receive up to 75% off the retail price.</p> <p dir="ltr">“With the cost of living continuously rising, affordability is top of mind for Australians,” Ikea Australia’s product recovery leader Lachlan Mitchell said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As-Is Online could not come at a better time for customers to get a great deal on second-life items, with prices ranging from 20 per cent to 75 per cent off the original product’s price.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The new platform gives our customers an easy way to shop more sustainably and find the perfect home furnishing products to make their life at home better.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Ikea customers in Queensland were the first to test out the new initiative after it was trialled through the month of April. </p> <p dir="ltr">The offering was put in place after research discovered one in five Australians buy second-hand items all or most of the time.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is also part of the brand’s ambition to become climate positive by 2030.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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A “toilet with a view” is the latest popular bathroom trend

<p dir="ltr">The bathroom, often considered a sacred and private space, is the subject of a divisive new trend that does away with the one thing ensuring this security: doors.</p> <p dir="ltr">Instead, open plan ensuites are the latest trend that can even include a view to the great outdoors.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Open plan bathrooms are on the rise for a few reasons,” Tim Bennett, the founder, architect and engineer at Tim Bennetton Architects, says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Society has been more exposed to ‘resort-style’ living where spaces feel more generous than they used to be.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have all allowed ourselves that touch more luxury - where the bathroom is not purely functional.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Bennett, one popular layout includes opening up one wall to a view or courtyard to create a space that feels open “while still being private and intimate”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We did this with one of the first houses we designed back in 2008, so it’s certainly a trend that’s been around for a while but is quickly gaining popularity, and it makes sense,” he explains.</p> <p dir="ltr">But when it comes to the key issue - the privacy of using the toilet - Bennett notes that it’s “the only real issue that needs to be discussed”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Some people are quite uncomfortable with an open plan toilet. But others are fine with it,” he says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You could argue that a toilet with a view adds to ‘the experience’, but on the other hand, many people like the extra level of privacy and separation that a separate compartment provides to the toilet.”</p> <p dir="ltr">If you are considering this trend but find that privacy is a top priority, there are a few things you can do to achieve both.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-8a8098de-7fff-998b-6302-86fdcf13172a"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“Flexibility is the key - allow sliding doors so that the ensuite or bathroom can be separated off if desired, or decorate screens or blinds,” Tim says.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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Clever mum shares the ultimate laundry hack for clean sheets

<p>Aussie mum Dina Santos has been sharing handy home hints and tricks over on her popular Instagram page.</p> <p>Her latest is a little-known hack of adding salt and baking soda to each load of white sheets or clothes to help them keep their bright white colour. The home stylist also recommends not overloading the drum and putting whites on a warm-wash so they come out as fresh and clean as ever.</p> <p>"Put all your whites in the washing compartment making sure you never overload," she wrote in the clip.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cfa1sdZARC_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cfa1sdZARC_/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Home styling with dina (@dina.sweethome.style_)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Dina said to make sure to put washing liquids or powder in the right compartment in the detergent drawer as per the machine's instructions.</p> <p>She used a laundry pod and scent boosters that go straight into the drum along with her bed linen.</p> <p>“Add two full teaspoons of baking soda and two of salt flakes (I swear ladies, this work miracles and your whites come out beautifully),” the mum-of-two suggested.</p> <p>Dina's clip racked up thousands of views and hundreds of comments from many of her followers thankful for the sharing the clever hacks.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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Fennel looking a bit feeble? Growing enough veggies to feed yourself depends on these 3 things

<div class="copy"> <p>Farming inside city boundaries is <a href="https://www.fao.org/urban-agriculture/en/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">on the rise</a> as countries become more urbanised and people seek to connect with the source of their food and improve their sustainability.</p> <p>But despite the productivity potential of home food gardens and the like, they are rarely analysed as serious farming systems. There’s little data, for example, on how much can be grown on an average suburban property.</p> <p>As climate change <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0217148" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">threatens</a> global food supplies, however, building sustainable urban food systems will be crucial.</p> <p>Our research has examined how productive the average home vegetable garden really is, and how to get the most from your patch.</p> <h2>Lawn with a side of salad?</h2> <p>Urban agriculture refers to growing produce and raising livestock inside a city’s boundary. In Australian cities, it might involve a home vegetable patch, community garden, backyard beehives, an edible rooftop garden on an apartment block, indoor hydroponics, a communal orchard and more.</p> <p>Sometimes, especially in developing countries, urban farming can help address issues such as poverty, unemployment and food insecurity.</p> <p>More broadly, it can increase access to healthy, fresh produce and lead to more sustainable food production. It can also help us save money and improve our well-being.</p> <p>Societies have traditionally lent on urban farming during times of stress. So it’s no surprise the practice resurged during the COVID pandemic. In Australia, keeping edible gardens significantly helped people maintain mental health during lowdown, <a href="https://sustain.org.au/projects/pandemic-gardening-survey-report/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">particularly</a> those on low incomes.</p> <p>But to what extent can we rely on our backyard gardens to meet all our fresh produce needs? Our research shows these three factors are key.</p> <h2>1. Give up some lawn</h2> <p>We <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2021.102770" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">looked at</a> the potential for food production at about 40,000 residential properties in suburban Adelaide – mostly free-standing homes.</p> <p>We calculated the amount of land required for a household of 2.5 people to grow the recommended five servings of vegetables per person each day. Then, using high-resolution aerial imagery to get a birds eye view of properties, we identified those with enough lawn area to make that happen.</p> <p>Some 21m² of lawn is needed to produce the recommended vegetable intake. In a scenario where a garden is high-yielding, this would require converting 23% of lawn area on a typical block into a vegetable patch. Of the properties modelled, 93% had the room to a create 21m² garden from the total lawn space.</p> <p>In a medium-yield garden, 72% of lawn on a typical block would need converting to produce enough vegetables to feed a household – equating to 67m².</p> <p>We limited the research to in-ground veggie production and didn’t include fruit trees. So a property’s potential to grow food would be even higher if food gardens or fruit trees already exist, or other garden beds or paved areas could be converted.</p> <h2>2. Up your gardening game</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0230232" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Research</a> out of Adelaide, which surveyed about 30 home gardeners, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2021.102770" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">found</a> yields per square metre ranged from 0.24kg to 16.07kg per year. This suggests a high rate of variability in home garden productivity – notwithstanding the fact people grow different crops.</p> <p>Not all of us have green thumbs and in some cases, your veggie patch might not yield as much as you hoped.</p> <p>Perhaps you gave it too much or too little water. Maybe you didn’t have time to pull out weeds or harvest produce. Pests and fungus might have struck down your crop. You may have planted the wrong seeds at the wrong time or just have poor soil.</p> <p>Our research suggests low-yield gardens would need 1,407m² of converted lawn to meet the vegetable needs of a household. However, less than 0.5% of properties in the analysed Adelaide sites had so much land. So to reach self-sufficiency in urban agriculture environments, medium to high yields are preferred.</p> <p>Skilled gardeners with high yields will need much less land. Given the space constraints in cities, upskilling gardeners is important to maximising production.</p> <h2>3. Know what’s in your soil</h2> <p>Good soil <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.130808" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">is a key factor</a> in productive gardens. It needs a good structure (one that allows water and air to enter and drain easily, while retaining enough moisture) an ample supply of plant nutrients and a rich microbial community.</p> <p>In city areas, heavy metal contamination and pollution of soils can be a concern. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.122900" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">We examined</a> soils at 12 urban agricultural sites in Adelaide, and found in all cases that metal concentrations did not exceed health guidelines for residential areas – even at sites with an industrial history.</p> <p>But this might not always be the case. An <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0045653518302467?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">analysis</a> of residential and community gardens in Melbourne, for example, showed some soils were contaminated at levels which could pose a human health hazard. This highlights the importance of testing urban soils before planting.</p> <p>Proper management of inputs – particularly fertiliser – is also key. Our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.122900" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">research</a> has found urban gardeners can choose from a variety of organic waste-based fertilisers such as spent coffee grounds, food scraps or lawn clippings. But this abundance can lead to imbalances.</p> <p>In Adelaide, for example, the widespread use of freely available horse manure led to excessive phosphorous levels in almost all of the 12 tested sites. This imbalance can depress plant growth and damage the broader environment.</p> <h2>Helping city gardens flourish</h2> <p>Urban agriculture has been <a href="https://www.fial.com.au/urban-agriculture" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">identified</a> as a A$4 billion economic growth opportunity for Australia. However, suburban blocks are trending towards smaller yards with less growing space.</p> <p>Given the many benefits of urban farming, it’s time to think more seriously about maximising efficiency and scale.</p> <p>Community gardens are well placed for knowledge-sharing. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1809707115" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Research</a> on 13 community gardens in Sydney revealed they were very high-yield – around twice as productive than the typical Australian commercial vegetable farm.</p> <p>Funding for more community gardens, and other education opportunities for urban gardeners, would be a valuable investment in improving public health and sustainability.</p> <p>This should be coupled with policy and planning decisions designed to increase the amount of urban farming space in our cities.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=194567&amp;title=Fennel+looking+a+bit+feeble%3F+Growing+enough+veggies+to+feed+yourself+depends+on+these+3%26nbsp%3Bthings" width="1" height="1" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/sustainability/global-food-crisis-garden/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by The Conversation. </em></p> </div>

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Keen to retrofit your home to lower its carbon footprint and save energy? Consider these 3 things

<p>If you’re anything like me, you’re increasingly <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-16/work-from-home-productivity-commission-study/100465258" target="_blank" rel="noopener">working from home</a>, one that was built before energy efficiency measures were introduced in Australia.</p> <p>With temperatures along the east coast plunging and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-did-gas-prices-go-from-10-a-gigajoule-to-800-a-gigajoule-an-expert-on-the-energy-crisis-engulfing-australia-184304" target="_blank" rel="noopener">power bills skyrocketing</a>, heating (and cooling) our homes is an energy intensive, expensive affair.</p> <p>Almost <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-04/energy-efficiency-carbon-offset-homes-sharehouse-rentals/100590596" target="_blank" rel="noopener">8 million homes</a> across Australia lack sufficient insulation, use sub-par heating and cooling equipment, or are badly designed.</p> <p>Indeed, these 8 million pre-energy rated homes <a href="http://www.powerhousingaustralia.com.au/resources/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">account for 18% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions</a>. And <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-youre-renting-chances-are-your-home-is-cold-with-power-prices-soaring-heres-what-you-can-do-to-keep-warm-184472" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research finds</a> 26% of Australians across all housing types can’t stay warm at least half of the time during winter.</p> <p>Retrofitting this housing stock to be more energy efficient is essential to successfully meet Australia’s target of cutting emissions 43% by 2030, while finding comfort in our future of intensifying climate extremes.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">A take-away from the current energy supply squeeze: energy efficiency pays. Whether retrofit or new build, do it to high standards and reap the benefits. Also, we need proper minimum standards in buildings and fleet wide emissions standards for vehicles.</p> <p>— Frank Jotzo (@frankjotzo) <a href="https://twitter.com/frankjotzo/status/1536988473495736320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 15, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p>My <a href="https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/79914" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research into net-zero emissions retrofitting</a> identifies three broad categories that must be considered when retrofitting existing homes to be more climate friendly:</p> <ol> <li> <p><a href="https://multicomfort.saint-gobain.co.uk/recommended-level-of-light-into-a-building/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">visual comfort</a>: the sufficient quality, quantity and distribution of light</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/green-building-program-sub/learn-about-green-building/1239-thermal-comfort.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">thermal comfort</a>: determined by the temperature, humidity, air flow and a person’s physical condition</p> </li> <li> <p>energy consumption: the amount of energy we use, and the <a href="https://www.yourhome.gov.au/materials/embodied-energy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">energy used</a> in manufacturing, transporting, constructing, maintaining, and removal of materials to build our homes.</p> </li> </ol> <p><strong>1. Visual comfort</strong></p> <p>It’s vital to understand how much sunlight the outside and interior of your home is exposed to. One can, accordingly, re-organise interior functions based on the demand for lighting, heating or cooling needs.</p> <p>During summer, spaces used often during the day, such as your home office, could benefit from being in places that receive less direct sunlight, so are cooler. In winter, consider moving your home office set up to a room with higher levels of direct sunlight, where it’s warmer.</p> <p>This will naturally reduce the amount of energy needed to cool or heat these rooms while allowing for comfortable working conditions.</p> <p>Other ways we can find more visual comfort include modifying the size of windows and skylights to let in more sunlight. To diffuse harsh lighting, consider <a href="https://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/common/public/documents/8d37431053e9065-Imap%202-1%20Sunshading.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">adding screens, sun baffles, overhangs, or pergolas</a> over windows.</p> <p>You can also replace your lights with LEDs equipped with linear controllers and motion sensors in places where lights tend to be left on. <a href="https://www.energy.gov.au/households/lighting#:%7E:text=LEDs%20are%20better%20value%20for,bulbs%20ending%20up%20in%20landfill." target="_blank" rel="noopener">LEDs use around 75% less energy than halogen light bulbs</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><em><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469149/original/file-20220616-11-lzxmcp.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a></em><figcaption><em><span class="caption">Moving your home office to rooms with more sunshine can help you save energy in winter.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Unsplash</span>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">CC BY</a></span></em></figcaption></figure> <p><strong>2. Thermal comfort</strong></p> <p>Older Australian homes are <a href="https://blog.csiro.au/draught-proof-house/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">incredibly draughty</a>, and a lot of the energy we spend cooling or heating our homes escapes outside due to poor insulation. Retrofitting to improve your home’s natural ventilation can reduce the number of times you need to switch on the heater or air conditioner.</p> <p><a href="https://www.greenbuilding.org.au/Articles/Sealing-Building-Envelope.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Sealing outside and internal surfaces</a> until they’re airtight is crucial. <a href="https://build.com.au/how-improve-your-homes-insulation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Different surfaces</a> – whether walls, floors or ceilings – require different methods, types and thicknesses of insulation.</p> <p>Walls, for instance, require a “blow-in” method. This can involve installing cellulose foam or <a href="https://build.com.au/glass-wool-insulation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">glasswool</a> (made from fibreglass) into the wall, via a <a href="https://build.com.au/wall-insulation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">small hole through the wall cavities</a> (for cellulose foam) or laying glasswool batts in wall cavities. Floors, on the other hand, can require insulation panels fitted between timber or steel supports or foam boards.</p> <p><a href="https://zeroenergyproject.org/build/twelve-steps-affordable-zero-energy-home-construction-design/super-insulate-net-zero-building-envelope/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Also important</a> is to choose materials and methods that maximise insulation while minimising thermal bridging. A <a href="https://blog.passivehouse-international.org/what-is-a-thermal-bridge/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">thermal bridge</a> is a weak point where heat is lost, such as wall intersections, connecting points of mounting brackets, and even penetration points of electric cables.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469147/original/file-20220616-21-adexyd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><em><span class="caption">Insulating the walls is crucial to stabilise temperatures inside.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></figcaption></figure> <p>Between <a href="https://blog.csiro.au/renovating-or-retrofitting/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ten and 35%</a> of the energy we spend cooling or heating our homes escapes through single glazed windows and doors. Installing double or triple glazed windows and doors will go a long way to keep temperatures more stable inside.</p> <p>It’s worth noting the <a href="https://build.com.au/window-energy-rating-scheme" target="_blank" rel="noopener">energy performance rating systems</a> on measurement labels, which are often attached to window and door units you can buy in stores.</p> <p>Ultimately, a combination of improved natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation (such as air conditioners as fans) can result in considerable energy savings – <a href="https://thefifthestate.com.au/articles/making-the-building-do-the-work-natural-ventilation-design/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">up to 79%</a> in some instances.</p> <p><strong>3. Energy consumption</strong></p> <p>While the above strategies will result in significant energy savings, it’s also vital to consider the energy required to produce and manufacture <a href="https://www.pembina.org/pub/embodied-carbon-retrofits" target="_blank" rel="noopener">retrofitting materials</a>. Consider using salvaged or recycled materials where possible, or choosing locally made products which avoid emissions associated with transport.</p> <p>Effectively installing solar panels can offset this “hidden” carbon. Let’s say you’ve done all you can to lower your home’s carbon footprint – you’ve rolled out insulation, installed double glazed windows and made the most of sunshine.</p> <p>You can then calculate the energy you still use to heat or cool your home. This number will determine how many rooftop solar panels you should install to break even, rather than simply installing as many panels that can fit.</p> <p>This will not only save you money, but also minimise waste. Researchers estimate that by 2047, Australia will accumulate <a href="https://theconversation.com/stop-removing-your-solar-panels-early-please-its-creating-a-huge-waste-problem-for-australia-160546" target="_blank" rel="noopener">1 million tonnes</a> of solar panel waste.</p> <p>It’s worth opting for solar panels with micro-inverters, which capture optimal energy performance per panel while allowing you to add more panels in future if needed.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><em><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/469146/original/file-20220616-11210-4f8kun.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a></em><figcaption><em><span class="caption">Solar panels can offset some of the carbon associated with manufacturing the materials you’ve purchased.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></em></figcaption></figure> <p>Another option is to use <a href="https://www.radiantheatingandcooling.com.au/geothermal-or-air-source-heat-pumps/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">air-source heat pumps</a>, which absorb heat from outside and bring it inside (like a reverse air conditioner). These can take the form of mini-split heat pumps for individual rooms, or multi-zone installations.</p> <p>They can sense indoor temperature, and operate at variable speeds and heating or cooling intensity, which means their energy performance is very efficient. My <a href="https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/79914" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research</a> finds well-planned use of such systems can reduce the energy used for heating by 69% and cooling by 38%.</p> <p><strong>It’s well worth the effort</strong></p> <p>These retrofitting ideas might seem expensive, or take too much time. However, they’ll often save you money in the long run as energy prices become increasingly uncertain.</p> <p>You can look to <a href="https://www.everybuildingcounts.com.au/?__hstc=213300875.d01baaf20feef1321eed69f68f6b9ce7.1644286749265.1644286749265.1644286749265.1&amp;__hssc=213300875.1.1644286749266&amp;__hsfp=475898586" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Every Building Counts</a>, an initiative by the <a href="https://new.gbca.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Green Building Council</a> and the <a href="https://www.propertycouncil.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Property Council of Australia</a>, which provides practical plans for emission reduction.</p> <p>Australia can also learn from ongoing efforts by the <a href="https://energiesprong.org/?country=the-netherlands" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Energiesprong network</a> in the Netherlands. This network is industrialising energy efficiency with <a href="https://energiesprong.org/this-dutch-construction-innovation-shows-its-possible-to-quickly-retrofit-every-building/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">prefabricated retrofitting building elements</a>.</p> <p>Some initiatives include lightweight insulated panels that can simply be placed in front of existing walls of homes. These panels are precisely fitted after carefully laser scanning a facade and robotically cutting openings to match existing homes. Harnessing contemporary technology is vital for a speedy net-zero transition.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/175921/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nimish-biloria-772399" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nimish Biloria</a>, Associate Professor of Architecture, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936" target="_blank" rel="noopener">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/keen-to-retrofit-your-home-to-lower-its-carbon-footprint-and-save-energy-consider-these-3-things-175921" target="_blank" rel="noopener">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Support the environment. Don’t mow your lawn

<div> <div class="copy"> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Mowing urban lawns less often or less severely increases biodiversity, saves money and reduces pests, according to research from the British Ecological Society.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">A meta-analysis of data from North America and Europe found strong evidence, the researchers say, that greater mowing intensity at home, in parks and on roundabouts and road verges has negative effects, particularly on invertebrate and plant diversity. Pest species thrive, however.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">“Even a modest reduction in lawn mowing frequency can bring a host of environmental benefits: increased pollinators, increased plant diversity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” says Chris Watson from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, Canada, lead author of a <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.13542" target="_blank" rel="noopener">paper</a> in the <em>Journal of Applied Ecology</em>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">“At the same time, a longer, healthier lawn makes it more resistant to pests, weeds, and drought events.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">The reason, Watson says, is that regular mowing favours grasses, which grow from the base of the plant, and low growing species such as dandelion and clover. Other species that have their growing tips or flowering stems regularly removed by mowing can’t compete. {%recommended 6627%}</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">“These findings support a lot of research done by the turfgrass industry that shows that the more disturbance a lawn gets, the higher the likelihood of pest and weed invasion,” he adds. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">For their meta-analysis, the researchers identified 14 studies undertaken in urban areas between 2004 and 2019 that measured mowing intensity (either height or frequency) as an experimental factor. They also included three unpublished studies of their own. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">A separate case study was used to estimate the economic costs of high-intensity lawn management – which are known to be considerable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Previous studies have shown, for example, that the cost of allergies to ragweed, which is common in North America and Europe, is around CAD$155 million per year in Quebec and €133 million a year in Austria and Bavaria. </span></p> <p>As it has a more rapid reproduction than other species, the researchers say, ragweed is able to colonise disturbances caused by intense mowing.</p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">You can also save money more directly. In their case study, Watson and colleagues analysed mowing contractor data from the city of Trois-Rivières. They estimated a 36% reduction in public maintenance costs when mowing frequency was reduced from 15 to 10 times per year in high use lawn areas and from three times to once a year in low use areas.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Watson acknowledges that people worry that leaving grass long attracts ticks and rodents but says there is little evidence to support this. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: inherit;">“The presence of ticks are more strongly related to host populations, like deer, than type of vegetation,” he says. “With respect to small mammals, some species prefer longer grass, whereas others do not.”</span></p> <p>The plan now is to expand the research and begin applying the findings to improve lawns.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> </div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em>This article was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/earth/sustainability/support-the-environment-dont-mow-your-lawn/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Nick Carne. </em></p> </div> </div>

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Top tips to find the perfect flooring

<p dir="ltr">From wood or floating floors to tiles or carpet, choosing flooring that is both functional and builds on the feel and liveability of your entire home can be a tricky task.</p> <p dir="ltr">For interior design enthusiast and Carpet Court Style Collaborator, Emily Osmond, the task of finding the perfect flooring is a familiar one that she says was one of the biggest decisions she had to make while building her first home .</p> <p dir="ltr">“Hard or soft, flooring is one of the most important design selections you will make for your new build - it plays a huge role in creating mood, texture, colour and flow throughout the home,” she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When it came to designing the interior, we started from the ground and worked our way up, knowing that whatever material and colourway we decided to include on the floors would form the foundation of our entire interior style.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-cb0288f3-7fff-9ecc-1922-5fac5b1ab145"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">But you don’t just have to consider flooring if you’re starting from scratch. Whether you’re planning some major renovations or just want to update the flooring in key spaces, Emily says the best option will come down to three key factors: material, lifestyle, and the space’s functionality.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CckYQaEPYKu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CckYQaEPYKu/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by EMILY OSMOND | Business Coach &amp; Speaker (@emilyosmond)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“I wanted our bedrooms and retreat to feel cosy and like a place to unwind, so the softness of carpet was perfect for these spaces,” Emily says.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When it came to our entrance, knowing this would be a high traffic area meant that engineered timber was the best option. To emphasise how large and open the area is, we continued with this flooring seamlessly from the entrance to the kitchen, living and dining space, drawing the eye down the hallway.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Flooring, Emily stresses, acts as the basis for your entire home, and choosing an option that suits the space and that you’re happy with will save you the work of changing it later.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Paint can be easily updated, or cabinetry colours tweaked, but flooring is the base on which your whole home’s style is built upon and shouldn’t be overlooked,” she says.</p> <p dir="ltr">To help you pick the flooring that suits your needs, Emily has shared these three tips.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Budget</strong> - Building or renovating your home often sees you work within quite a tight budget, but flooring and carpet is a worthwhile item to invest in. Since it will be walked on every day, avoid skimping so you can pick high quality options.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Realise your vision</strong> - Making a mood board for her project helped Emily capture the overall aesthetic and feel of the home. Plus, having a physical version of your plan - whether as a mood board or model - can serve as a reference point you can come back to as you need.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Be confident</strong> - Though everyone’s taste differs, be confident in the decisions you make since only you known the vision you have for your home (and you will be the person living there every day).</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-7cf373e2-7fff-0da8-ef90-9dae0e3e95ef"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: @emilyosmond (Instagram)</em></p>

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Household appliances that use the most energy

<p dir="ltr">As the colder months are well and truly settling in, a lot of us are relying on our various devices and appliances to make winter a little easier. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, as energy bills continue to rise, it’s worth being aware of things in our home that leech more electricity than others and therefore drive our electricity bills even higher. </p> <p dir="ltr">With general household appliances being responsible for more than 30% of your energy consumption, it's reflecting on your daily usage habits of appliances, and making any substitutes where you can.</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the main energy drains in most households are <strong>tumble dryers</strong>. </p> <p dir="ltr">While they are certainly a convenient purchase, dryers can drastically increase your electricity bill, as regularly using your clothes dryer can cost you anywhere from $100-$650 a year.</p> <p dir="ltr">To cut down the costs of your dryer, only tumble dry your clothes when absolutely necessary, which is admittedly a lot easier said than done in winter. </p> <p dir="ltr">If you can hang out your clothes to dry them, take advantage of this option. </p> <p dir="ltr">Also, make sure you turn off your tumble dryer at the powerpoint when it’s not in use, as some dryers can still use energy even when they’re not being used. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another huge power drain is <strong>fridges</strong>, as they are in use 24 hours a day.</p> <p dir="ltr">As we can’t go without a fridge, and can’t unplug it when it’s not in use (because it's always in use), it's important to pick the right fridge for your needs. </p> <p dir="ltr">Choosing a smaller fridge can help cut some electricity costs, as bigger units use more power to keep on. </p> <p dir="ltr">Also, look for the energy efficient stickers on fridges when making your purchase and decide accordingly. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Air conditioning units</strong> and <strong>heaters</strong> can also contribute to almost 40% of your total energy bill, especially in times of extreme weather. </p> <p dir="ltr">For the sake of your electricity bill, it's best to limit the use of these appliances where you can and stay warm in other ways. Think electric blankets, cups of tea and only the cosiest slippers. </p> <p dir="ltr">And again, looking out for energy efficient stickers on these appliances when you’re buying them will help you save big bucks on your bills. </p> <p dir="ltr">Other smaller appliances such as <strong>TVs</strong>, <strong>computer monitors</strong> and even <strong>kettles</strong> are notorious for passively draining the electricity when they’re not being used. </p> <p dir="ltr">In order to prevent this accumulative energy drain, be sure to switch off these appliances at the powerpoint when you’re not using them, and your next electricity bill will thank you. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Yet again, the census shows women are doing more housework. Now is the time to invest in interventions

<p>The Australian Census numbers have been released, showing women typically do <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data/community-profiles/2021/AUS/download/GCP_AUS.xlsx">many more hours of unpaid housework</a> per week compared to men.</p> <p>It’s not a new development. In <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/home/2016+Census+National">2016</a>, the “typical” Australian man spent less than five hours a week on domestic work, while the “typical” Australian woman spent between five and 14 hours a week on domestic work. Before that, the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/7d12b0f6763c78caca257061001cc588/c0e6e1069c8d24e9ca257306000d5b04!OpenDocument">2006 census</a>showed, again, that more of the domestic workload is shouldered by women.</p> <p>So, in the 15 years since the Australian Census <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/census-to-count-unpaid-work-20060226-ge1ty0.html">started collecting</a> unpaid housework time, women are shown to do more than men. Every. Single. Time.</p> <p>What is unique about these latest census numbers is Australians filled out their surveys during one of the greatest disruptors to work and home life – the COVID pandemic.</p> <h2>Pandemic pressures</h2> <p>We have a breadth of <a href="https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?hl=en&amp;user=EHPbrxgAAAAJ&amp;view_op=list_works&amp;sortby=pubdate">research</a> showing the pandemic disrupted women’s – especially mothers’ – work and family lives, in catastrophic ways. </p> <p>Economic closures knocked women out of employment at <a href="https://arts.unimelb.edu.au/the-policy-lab/projects/projects/worsening">higher rates to men</a>, forcing them to rely more heavily on their savings and stimulus payments to make ends meet. All this while managing intensified housework, childcare and homeschooling.</p> <p>The <a href="https://read.dukeupress.edu/demography/article/59/1/1/286878/Research-Note-School-Reopenings-During-the-COVID">transition</a> to remote and hybrid learning meant mothers, not fathers, reduced their workloads to meet these newfound demands. </p> <p>Fathers picked up the slack in the home – doing <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-forced-australian-fathers-to-do-more-at-home-but-at-the-same-cost-mothers-have-long-endured-154834">more housework</a> at the start of the pandemic and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1097184X21990737">holding it</a> over time.</p> <p>Yet, as my colleagues Brendan Churchill and Lyn Craig <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gwao.12497">show</a>, fathers increased their housework but so did mothers, meaning the gender gap in that time remained. </p> <p>So, while men should be applauded for doing more during the unique strains of the pandemic, we <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gwao.12727">show</a> mothers were the true heroes of the pandemic, stepping into added labour at the expense of their health and well-being.</p> <p>Quite simply, the pandemic placed unparalleled pressures on Australian families. So it is perhaps no surprise our surveys are showing <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/the-juggle-is-real-parents-want-greater-flexibility-in-return-to-office-20220325-p5a820.html">Australians are burnt out</a>.</p> <p>(As discussed in <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-give-mum-chocolates-for-mothers-day-take-on-more-housework-share-the-mental-load-and-advocate-for-equality-instead-182330">previous articles</a>, the chore divide in same-sex relationships is generally found to be more equal. But some critiques suggests even then, equality may suffer <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/upshot/same-sex-couples-divide-chores-much-more-evenly-until-they-become-parents.html">once kids are involved</a>.)</p> <h2>Time for action</h2> <p>So, where to now? </p> <p>We pay upwards of <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyReleaseDate/1B9C46E8DBFC05FFCA25847D0080F9A2?OpenDocument">$640 million dollars</a> every five years to document Australia through the census. </p> <p>And, in each of these surveys we find the same result – women are doing more housework than men. </p> <p>This <a href="https://theconversation.com/sorry-men-theres-no-such-thing-as-dirt-blindness-you-just-need-to-do-more-housework-100883">parallels decades of research</a> showing women do more housework, even when they are employed full-time, earn more money and especially <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00479.x">once kids hit</a>the scene.</p> <p>Men have increased their <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-21635-5_2">housework</a> and <a href="https://aifs.gov.au/aifs-conference/fathers-and-work">childcare contributions</a> over time and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00113921211012737?journalCode=csia&amp;fbclid=IwAR0Vgrre91fTarMY_EFLmDl1iJk7hPms6p3FhfM0E0y52Bbe9bZqmJ7Gs1A">younger men want</a> to be more present, active and attentive in the home.</p> <p>Simply put: men want to step into greater care giving and women are suffering from “doing it all”.</p> <p>We have documented these trends for decades – enough. Now it is time for action.</p> <h2>Creating a fair future</h2> <p>These are the critical questions we are asking through <a href="https://www.unimelb.edu.au/futureofwork">The Future of Work Lab</a> at the University of Melbourne – how do we create a future that is fair to everyone, including women and mothers? </p> <p>A few key projects illuminate some of the next steps towards clear interventions. The first is to provide Australian families with a comprehensive safety net to support their care-giving lives.</p> <p>All of us will be, at some point, called upon to care for a loved one, friend, family member or colleague. At these moments, work becomes difficult and housework demands soar. </p> <p>So, providing <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-were-serious-about-supporting-working-families-here-are-three-policies-we-need-to-enact-now-105490">care-giving resources</a> beyond just paid time off is critical. This underscores the need for </p> <ul> <li>universal free high-quality childcare</li> <li>paid caregiver leave, and/or </li> <li>better and longer term cash payments for caregivers.</li> </ul> <p>Second, we need comprehensive policies that allow <a href="https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/flexible-families-workplace-equality">men to step</a> into care-giving roles without fear of retribution and penalty at work.</p> <p>Australians work more <a href="https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=AVE_HRS">annual hours</a>, on average, than their Canadian and United Kingdom counterparts, working hours more similar to the overwork culture of the United States. And, only <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/may/28/only-one-in-20-fathers-take-primary-parental-leave-in-australia">one in 20 Australian fathers</a> take paid parental leave following childbirth, an abysmal rate relative to other high-income countries. </p> <p>We can do better. </p> <p>The pandemic created the space for many men to step into larger care-giving roles with great pleasure and showed workplaces that flexible work is feasible.</p> <p>Next, the Australian workplace must become more supportive of men’s right to care.</p> <h2>Unpaid domestic work and the mental load</h2> <p>Finally, we must redress the challenges of unpaid domestic work and the <a href="https://theconversation.com/planning-stress-and-worry-put-the-mental-load-on-mothers-will-2022-be-the-year-they-share-the-burden-172599">mental load</a> on women’s physical, mental and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13668803.2021.2002813">economic health and well-being</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps tech holds some solutions. </p> <p>The demand is clearly there with some super impressive women building out concrete tech solutions to reduce the mental load and unpaid domestic work - like <a href="https://getmelo.app/">Melo’s mental load app</a> or <a href="https://www.yohana.com/">Yohana’s virtual concierges</a>. </p> <p>Others are using old tech solutions – like <a href="https://www.fairplaylife.com/the-cards">Eve Rodsky’s Fair Play</a> cards – to help couples equalise the often unseen, and undervalued household chores. We are working on a research project to understand the impact of these different resources on families’ unpaid domestic loads and lives more broadly. </p> <p>The census is valuable in showing us we remain unchanged. </p> <p>But, now, is a time to invest in intervention and innovation to make us better versions of ourselves into the future.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/yet-again-the-census-shows-women-are-doing-more-housework-now-is-the-time-to-invest-in-interventions-185488" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Update your home interior with these stylish tips

<p dir="ltr"> If your home needs a revamp, it’s reasonable to think a major change is needed to see any difference - but you might be surprised to find that even the smallest of changes can add some new life into your home’s interiors.</p> <p dir="ltr">Andrea Lucena-Orr, Dulux’s Colour and Communications Manager, says making your home reflect your unique style that just a couple cans of paint could be all you need.</p> <p dir="ltr">“People often underestimate the power of paint as a cost-effective and impactful way to jazz up your space,” she says. “Additionally, colour can be introduced in a number of ways to help tailor and refresh interiors, all whilst keeping the structure and integrity of the home intact!”</p> <p dir="ltr">Paint can be a particularly helpful tool in revitalising your space if you’re renting and can’t knock down walls to your heart’s content, or if you’re looking for change that won’t cost an arm and a leg.</p> <p dir="ltr">To prove just how effective painting can be at revitalising your space, Dulux Trend Forecaster and Stylist, Bree Leech, took to her own rental home with a paintbrush or two.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-2fce05c2-7fff-1636-6c0d-fffb27457698"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“Our dining room had a feature that didn’t work for us and I’d wanted to fix it for some time!” Bree explains. “It was a neutral space that had a cut-out in the wall so you could look through the adjoining room. The cut-out feature was serving no real purpose and the dining area just felt a bit flat.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/home-interiors1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Before and after Bree Leech revamped her dining room with a lick of paint and some simple changes. </em></p> <p dir="ltr">She solved this problem with fluted wall panels that covered the cut-out feature, which she then painted with bright colours that were fun, joyful, and reflected her personal style.</p> <p dir="ltr">Those wanting to achieve something similar won’t have to work it all out on their own either, thanks to these tips from Bree herself.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Colour isn’t just for walls</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Bree says: “Painting dining chairs or a table is also a great way to achieve this look whilst renting. Add artwork that references your colour scheme to bring it all together.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But, Bree adds that having an overall mood or style is critical for selecting colours.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When selecting colours, always have an overall mood or style in mind and select colours that help bring this idea to life. It’s helpful to have a visual you can refer to like a mood board, materials board or a Pinterest board,” she explains. “This helps keep your colour scheme cohesive and gives you a reference point to work out your proportions as this can dramatically change the mood of the space.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Small changes work just as well as going bold</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a17f3c09-7fff-5f3c-5231-ab6c37bc7f85"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“When it comes to scheming, going bold with colour can really pay off but equally, small changes can make a big difference,” Bree says. “If you want to introduce smaller pops of colour, choose furniture items or highlight small areas of a wall, door or even your ceiling.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/06/home-interiors2.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Work with what you have</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">If you’re renting or following a strict budget, you may need to work with the existing fittings and features - but that doesn’t mean you’ll need to compromise on your style.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Working with existing fittings and fixtures can often mean a clash in colourways,” Bree adds. “While you may not be able to pull up the carpet or replace the kitchen benchtop, you can always add rugs for a tonal effect to get you closer to your desired palette. Dulux also offers a wet room coatings range (Renovation Range) which allows you to paint over existing benchtops, cabinetry and tiles for a bespoke, premium look.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Test your colours with this simple trick</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Since the colours you see in-store might look different in your home (or even at different parts of the day), it’s worth testing how the colour will look before you decide using this hack from Bree.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Paint a cardboard slip or piece of paper and leave the painted swatch up on the walls for a few days,” she says. “Move it around the room at different times of the day to ensure you love the colours(s) under different lighting conditions – both natural and artificial.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-fcffa6b1-7fff-aa38-0e20-fc649c1624fa"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: </em><em>Dulux Colour Forecast 2022 - Wonder Palette, Bree Leech (Dulux Colour Forecaster &amp; Stylist), Mike Baker (Photography), Wall Panel: Colour -</em><em>DULUX Harmonious, Product - DULUX Wash&amp;Wear, Supplied by Surround by Laminex; Chairs: Colour - DULUX Plunder, Product -</em><em> DULUX Aquanamel; </em><em>Rug supplied by Halcyon Lake </em><em>(</em><em>Supplied)</em></p>

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Unlikely hack makes ironing a thing of the past

<p>Wishing you could find a way to make ironing a thing of the past?</p> <p>Well, you’re in luck. This clever grandma has come up with a genius hack for crease-free clothing – and best of all, there is no iron in sight.</p> <p>The savvy nan called Babs, also known as brunchwithbabs on Instagram, shared the hack on her page and she’s gone viral.</p> <p>The US-based grandmother who calls herself the “internet mom/grandma you didn’t know you needed” shares all kinds of advice on her page gaining her quite the following.</p> <p>Captioning the video showing how to remove creases from clothes without an iron, Babs writes:</p> <p>“Babs Hack *tip: high heat, works great on cotton and another option is throwing in a damp rag which also works like a charm.”</p> <p>In the footage, Babs asks viewers, ”Do you like to iron on a beautiful sunny day? Me neither.</p> <p>”Try ice cubes instead.”</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cdalnisloi4/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cdalnisloi4/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Babs (@brunchwithbabs)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“Four to five ice cubes right in,” she revealed, before adding that you should let the ice cubes do their magic for 10 to 15 minutes.</p> <p>At the end of the video, Babs can be seen removing the dresses and showing they are wrinkle-free.</p> <p>The video has been viewed more than 50,000 times and her fans are impressed. Let us know if you've tried this genius hack.</p>

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A simpler life begins at home – key tips from people who’ve done it

<p>Voluntary simplicity focuses on doing more with less. People who choose this way of life seek other riches, like personal fulfilment, free time, community and environmental benefits. They see limiting their consumption as a way to improve their quality of life and flourish. </p> <p>We wanted to learn about people who choose this path. What lessons do they have to share? In particular, how can housing be designed to support simplicity?</p> <p>We talked in depth to 14 householders and 25 housing industry professionals. As well as the householders, 11 of the professionals had made housing changes to simplify their own lives. Our conversations focused on life stories and beliefs, thoughts on voluntary simplicity, and ways to overcome the challenges they faced.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02673037.2020.1720614">recently published research</a> shows it is possible, with a bit of work and planning, to live a simple and fulfilling life. We focused on housing, because housing choices are at the heart of such a life. Our social connections, incomes, transport needs and energy and water usage all link to where and how we live. </p> <p>Despite <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/6496B4739650C270CA2581F3000E3B4D?OpenDocument">continuing increases</a>, house and land prices are lower in Tasmania than on mainland Australia, but so are incomes. Just as elsewhere, housing practices here can lock householders into complicated consumption practices with negative consequences for society and the environment. Needing to work more to pay off bigger mortgages is one aspect of this.</p> <h2>Compromises are inevitable</h2> <p>Some participants wanted housing that encompassed environmental best practice and closeness to nature. Some wanted to connect with like-minded people. Some wanted smaller or no mortgages.</p> <p>But “you can’t have it all”, we were told. Compromises are inherent in striving for voluntary simplicity in housing. </p> <p>For example, you might want an off-grid eco-haven, but that’s unlikely in the inner city. You might need public transport, but that could rule out retrofitting a bush block home. </p> <p>The ethically sourced building materials you select from interstate or overseas might involve supply chains using multiple transport modes and all the fossil fuel these use. Locally sourced materials might not meet your ethical standards. And are you happy to buy your solar panels using credit from a Big Four bank that invests in fossil fuels?</p> <p>So, know your deal-breakers and accept that you cannot be “a model of simplicity” in every way all the time. “Do what you can for the context you’re in.”</p> <p>A resounding piece of advice from the professionals was “smaller is better”.</p> <h2>Do your homework</h2> <p>To find palatable compromises you must do your homework. For example, many people wanted to save money or have meaningful experiences of creating house and home. </p> <p>That level of engagement takes a lot of work, which surprised several participants. It requires project-management skills and familiarity with regulations beforehand.</p> <p>You might need specialist professionals on board from the start. A building designer told us, "You’re doing something different from the norm, so your standard industry professional might not be experienced with the regulations for composting toilets, on-site greywater systems, or even smaller-than-average houses."</p> <p>Situations might change mid-project. Participants emphasised how important it is to be prepared for regulatory reforms, technological change and unexpected costs. Communication is crucial – with family, professionals and tradespeople, councils and suppliers.</p> <p>One owner-builder told us, "It’s like a little treasure hunt. Ask lots of questions but gather them all together because professionals charge per hour or part thereof. Find people who have experience with a similar build or project. We asked friends for basic info, then asked the experts once we had some background."</p> <p>Options and requirements might not be obvious. Finding professionals with similar values who have a talent for project administration, regulations and time management can be hugely helpful. Another building designer told us, "It’s becoming increasingly hard to build a home without professional help. If you don’t know the order in which to do things, and how one influences the other, it can become very stressful and costly and time-consuming."</p> <p>Confidence and patience are useful attributes. Another owner-builder said, "You’ll be talking with people who know their stuff (or think they do) and are used to working with other professionals. It’s hard to call someone about a product not knowing what you’re talking about, but do it anyway and don’t be scared. At the end of the day, we were responsible for every aspect of our place, so why not take control? It gets easier once you start doing it."</p> <h2>Be patient and know your limitations</h2> <p>Since everything seems to “take so much longer than planned”, remember you are there for the long haul. </p> <p>If you want to move faster, you often have to pay experts for the privilege. As one owner-builder said: “We could have gotten away without the loan if time weren’t a factor.”</p> <p>The more you do yourself as a non-expert the more you learn. But even if you are careful, you might make mistakes that cost time and money. So “be guided by your emotions and values but don’t let them get the best of you”.</p> <h2>The project of a lifetime</h2> <p>The voluntary simplicity housing journey also affects professionals. One building designer told us, "I hope to see myself as an interpreter of what people want. It might be the project of a lifetime for someone who has spent their life savings on it, so I feel a responsibility to provide some sort of pastoral care. For owner-builders, the house becomes a part of the family in some ways."</p> <p>That means being friendly, patient, communicative and paying attention to how clients experience the whole system from planning regulations to the philosophies of sustainability.</p> <p>In practice, simple living is a huge journey. But with thought, planning and hard work, it can be extremely satisfying and rewarding. </p> <p>Committing to voluntary simplicity in housing (or anything else) is never a complete response. But, as part of a suite of positive responses to contemporary challenges, from climate change to community cohesion, it’s worth working for as individuals and as professionals.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article was originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-simpler-life-begins-at-home-key-tips-from-people-whove-done-it-132081" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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