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Doctor shares her holy grail tips for overcoming eye sensitivity

<p>As the chill of winter sets in, many people find that their eyes become more sensitive and prone to dryness. This can be particularly challenging for those who already suffer from dry eye syndrome. </p> <p>Dr. Jacqueline Beltz is a leading Australian Ophthalmologist and the founder of <a href="https://www.okkiyo.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">OKKIYO</a>, a beauty brand that makes PRIORITEYES mascara for people with sensitive eyes.</p> <p>Dr Beltz has shared her insights into dry eye syndrome and how winter can exacerbate symptoms, also sharing her top tips for managing eye sensitivity during the colder months.</p> <p><strong>Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome</strong></p> <p>The surface of the eye is covered by a delicate layer of tears, essential for comfort, vision, protection, and nutrition. The tear film comprises two main layers: an outer lipid (oily) layer and an inner aqueous (watery) layer. The lipid layer, produced by oil glands in the eyelids, prevents tears from evaporating too quickly, while the aqueous layer, consisting of water, electrolytes, and proteins, spreads tears evenly across the eye and helps them adhere to the surface.</p> <p>When the balance of tear production, evaporation, absorption, and drainage is disrupted, it can lead to dry eye syndrome. Symptoms may include redness, irritation, a gritty sensation, tired eyes, itching, excessive watering, and fluctuating vision. In severe cases, dry eye can be painful and significantly impact daily life.</p> <p><strong>How common is dry eye syndrome?</strong></p> <p>Dry eye syndrome is a widespread issue, particularly among older adults. According to the Blue Mountains Eye Study, 57% of adults over the age of 50 experience some degree of dry eye. This condition is notably more prevalent in women, with higher rates observed compared to their male counterparts. The increased prevalence in women is often attributed to hormonal changes, particularly during and after menopause. </p> <p>A more recent study, Optometry Australia’s 2022 Vision index found that over 85% of Australians are estimated to have experienced dry eyes at some point in their lives.  Of those affected, 55% say they only developed the condition following the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.  They reported that almost 1 in 5 (18%) of people experience dry eye symptoms frequently.  </p> <p>These statistics highlight the importance of understanding and managing dry eye, especially as we age.</p> <p><strong>DEWS II Study and Treatment Approaches</strong></p> <p>The DEWS II (Dry Eye Workshop II) study provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and treating dry eye syndrome. According to the study, dry eye is a multifactorial disease characterised by a loss of homeostasis (or balance) in the tear film, accompanied by eye symptoms. Factors such as tear film instability, hyperosmolarity (increased saltiness), inflammation, and neurosensory (altered feelings or sensations) abnormalities play significant roles.</p> <p>There are two primary types of dry eye: aqueous deficient and evaporative. Most individuals have a combination of both. Aqueous deficient dry eye occurs when there is insufficient production of the watery layer of tears, often due to aging, hormonal changes, or certain medications. Evaporative dry eye is typically caused by environmental factors or conditions affecting the lipid layer, such as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).</p> <p><strong>Winter's Impact on Dry Eyes</strong></p> <p>Winter poses unique challenges for dry eye sufferers. Cold, dry air, indoor heating, and wind can all exacerbate symptoms. Here's how to combat these winter-specific issues:</p> <p><em><strong>1. Humidify Your Environment</strong></em></p> <p>Indoor heating reduces humidity levels, leading to increased tear evaporation. Consider using a humidifier to maintain moisture in the air, especially in bedrooms and living spaces. This helps keep your eyes hydrated.</p> <p><em><strong>2. Protect Your Eyes Outdoors</strong></em></p> <p>Cold winds can strip away the tear film. When outside, wear wraparound sunglasses to shield your eyes from the elements. This not only protects your eyes from the wind but also from UV rays, which can be strong even in winter.</p> <p><em><strong>3. Stay Hydrated</strong></em></p> <p>Dehydration can worsen dry eye symptoms. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain overall hydration, which supports healthy tear production.</p> <p><em><strong>4. Optimise Your Diet</strong></em></p> <p>Certain foods can promote eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help manage dry eye symptoms. Incorporate these into your diet for added benefits.</p> <p><em><strong>5. Use a Warm Compress</strong></em></p> <p>A warm compress can help improve the function of the meibomian glands, which produce the oily layer of the tear film. This is particularly helpful for those with meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD. Gently apply a warm, damp cloth to your closed eyelids for 10-15 minutes, followed by a gentle massage of the eyelids to encourage oil secretion. It is important to avoid rubbing or compressing the eyeballs.</p> <p><em><strong>6. Use Over-the-Counter Lubricant Eye Drops</strong></em></p> <p>Artificial tears can provide temporary relief by supplementing the natural tear film. Choose preservative-free options to avoid further irritation, and use them frequently.</p> <p><em><strong>7.  Remember to have regular eye checks</strong></em></p> <p>In Australia, Optometrists provide our primary eye health check ups. Dr Beltz recommends adults over the age of 40 see their optometrist once a year, but if you’re struggling with symptoms of dry eye in winter, an extra check up might help and your optometrist will be able to help you to come up with an individualised treatment plan.</p> <p><em><strong>8. Invest in Quality Eye Products</strong></em></p> <p>For those who wear makeup, using products designed for sensitive eyes is crucial. <a href="https://www.okkiyo.com/products/protect-and-preserve-mascara" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PRIORITEYES</a> mascara by OKKIYO has been specifically formulated to be gentle on sensitive eyes, avoiding common irritants while providing excellent performance.</p> <p><strong>Managing Dry Eye in Winter: A Recap</strong></p> <p>Winter can be tough on our eyes, but with the right strategies, you can manage dry eye symptoms effectively. Maintain a humid environment, protect your eyes from cold winds, stay hydrated, and incorporate eye-healthy foods into your diet. Regularly use warm compresses and opt for gentle, high-quality eye products like PRIORITEYES mascara.  </p> <p>Dry eye syndrome may be a common condition, but it doesn't have to dominate your life, especially during the harsh winter months. With these tips, you can keep your eyes comfortable and healthy all season long. For personalised advice and treatment, always consult with your eye care professional.</p> <p>Stay warm, stay hydrated and take care of your eyes this winter!</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Body

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Why do dogs have different coats? Experts explain – and give grooming tips for different types

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-hazel-402495">Susan Hazel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cobb-15211">Mia Cobb</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>Dog hair comes in many varieties, from shaggy to short, curly to straight. If you live with a dog, you live with their hair – on your couch, in your clothes, it’s everywhere!</p> <p>Beyond colour, have you ever wondered what’s behind the differences in coat type?</p> <p>We actually know quite a lot about why dogs have different coats, and it comes down to their genes.</p> <h2>What are the main coat types in dogs?</h2> <p>The three main features of dog coats are how long the hairs are, whether they are curly or straight, and whether they have extra flourishes. The flourishes are called “furnishings”, and can include a hairy moustache and shaggy eyebrows.</p> <p>Combinations of these three features result in seven different coat types in dogs: short, wire, wire and curly, long, long with furnishings, curly, and curly with furnishings.</p> <p>We know from a <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1177808">study of more than 1,000 dogs with varying coats</a> that differences in only three genes are responsible for this variety.</p> <p>The gene responsible for long hair (called FGF5) is <a href="https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/patterns">recessive</a>, meaning dogs must have two copies of the mutated gene to have long hair. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1402862111">In humans</a>, the same gene has been identified in families with excessively long eyelashes.</p> <p>Curly coats in dogs are related to a gene called <a href="https://www.pawprintgenetics.com/products/tests/details/173/">KRT71</a>, which affects keratin, a protein involved in hair formation. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2974189/">Mutations in this gene</a> in cats result in hairless (Sphynx) or curly-haired (Devon Rex) breeds.</p> <p>The gene responsible for furnishings (<a href="https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/rspo2/">RSPO2</a>) is involved in establishing hair follicles. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/hair-follicle">Hair follicles</a> are small pockets in the skin that grow hair.</p> <p>Variations in these three genes could explain the coat type in most (but not all!) of the dogs tested. For example, the long coat of the Afghan hound is not explained by these three genes. Further study is needed to identify less common mutations and genes controlling the coat in these dogs.</p> <p>The earliest dog breeds would have been short-haired, as a result of the “wild-type” genes. Later changes would have arisen through mutation and deliberate selection <a href="https://theconversation.com/managing-mutations-of-a-species-the-evolution-of-dog-breeding-96635">through modern breeding practices</a>.</p> <p>If all three mutations are present, the dog has a long, curly coat with furnishings. An example is the Bichon Frisé.</p> <h2>What else varies in dog coats?</h2> <p>Dog coat types can also be single or double. In a double-coated breed such as a Labrador, there is a longer coarse layer of hairs and a softer and shorter undercoat. Wolves and ancestral dogs are single-coated, and the double coat is a result of a <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4425/10/5/323">mutation in chromosome 28</a>.</p> <p>In the Labrador, the mutation was probably selected for as they were bred to <a href="https://www.gov.nl.ca/releases/2023/exec/0525n07/">retrieve fishing nets in Canada</a>. The double coat is a great insulator and helps them to stay warm, even in icy water.</p> <h2>Why does it matter what kind of coat a dog has?</h2> <p>We know with climate change our world is going to get hotter. Dogs with a double coat are less able to tolerate heat stress, as their hair prevents heat loss.</p> <p>In a study of dogs <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/avj.13296">suffering heat-related illness</a>, most of the 15 breeds at higher risk had double coats. The death rate in these dogs was 23%. We can only imagine how it must feel going out on a 40 degree day wearing a thick fur coat.</p> <p>Dogs with a double coat shed more hair than dogs with a single coat. This means even short-haired breeds, like the Labrador retriever, can shed an astonishing amount of hair. If you can’t tolerate dog hair, then a dog with a double-coat may not suit you.</p> <p>When we think of wool we think of sheep, but in the past <a href="https://www.si.edu/stories/woolly-dog-mystery-unlocked">woolly dogs were kept for their wool</a> that was <a href="https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adi6549">woven by Indigenous groups</a> and used to make blankets.</p> <p>A dog’s coat also affects how much time and effort is needed for grooming. Dogs with long or curly hair with furnishings are likely to need more time invested in their care, or visits to a professional groomer.</p> <p>Designer dogs (cross-bred dogs often crossed with a poodle, such as groodles), are likely to be curly with furnishings. In a US study, people with designer dogs reported meeting their dogs’ maintenance and grooming requirements was <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/23/3247">much harder than they expected</a>.</p> <p>It’s not just bank balances and the time needed that can suffer. If people are unable to cope with the demands of grooming long-haired dogs, lack of grooming can cause welfare problems. A study of animal cruelty cases in New York found <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2022.827348/full">13% involved hair matting</a>, with some hair mats causing strangulation wounds and 93% of affected dogs having long hair.</p> <h2>How can you prevent problems?</h2> <p>If you have a curly- or long-haired breed of dog, it will help to train them to like being brushed from an early age. You can do this by counter-conditioning so they have a positive emotional response to being groomed, rather than feeling anxious. First show the brush or lightly brush them, then give them a treat. They learn to associate being brushed with something positive.</p> <p>If you take your dog to the groomer, it’s very important their first experience is positive. A scary or painful incident will make it much more difficult for future grooming.</p> <p>Is your dog difficult to groom or hard to get out of the car at the groomers? It’s likely grooming is scary for them. Consulting a dog trainer or animal behaviourist who focuses on positive training methods can help a lot.</p> <p>Keeping your dog well groomed, no matter their hair type, will keep them comfortable. More important than looking great, feeling good is an essential part of dogs living their best lives with us.<!-- 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/232480/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/susan-hazel-402495">Susan Hazel</a>, Associate Professor, School of Animal and Veterinary Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mia-cobb-15211">Mia Cobb</a>, Research Fellow, Animal Welfare Science Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-dogs-have-different-coats-experts-explain-and-give-grooming-tips-for-different-types-232480">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Family & Pets

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‘Sleep tourism’ promises the trip of your dreams. Beyond the hype plus 5 tips for a holiday at home

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charlotte-gupta-347235">Charlotte Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dean-j-miller-808724">Dean J. Miller</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Imagine arriving at your hotel after a long flight and being greeted by your own personal sleep butler. They present you with a pillow menu and invite you to a sleep meditation session later that day.</p> <p>You unpack in a room kitted with an AI-powered smart bed, blackout shades, blue light-blocking glasses and weighted blankets.</p> <p>Holidays are traditionally for activities or sightseeing – eating Parisian pastry under the Eiffel tower, ice skating at New York City’s Rockefeller Centre, lying by the pool in Bali or sipping limoncello in Sicily. But “<a href="https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/inspiration/pillow-menus-and-sleep-gummies-the-new-hotel-trend-that-s-putting-guests-to-sleep-20230823-p5dyu5.html">sleep tourism</a>” offers vacations for the sole purpose of getting good sleep.</p> <p>The emerging trend extends out of the global wellness tourism industry – reportedly worth more than <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogersands/2023/11/17/the-global-wellness-tourism-sector-surpasses-814-billion-market-share/">US$800 billion globally</a> (A$1.2 trillion) and <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/1018497/global-market-size-of-the-wellness-tourism-industry/">expected to boom</a>.</p> <p>Luxurious sleep retreats and sleep suites at hotels are popping up <a href="https://www.countryandtownhouse.com/style/health-and-beauty/sleep-retreats/">all over the world</a> for tourists to get some much-needed rest, relaxation and recovery. But do you really need to leave home for some shuteye?</p> <h2>Not getting enough</h2> <p>The rise of sleep tourism may be a sign of just how chronically sleep deprived we all are.</p> <p>In Australia more than one-third of adults are not achieving the recommended <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352721816301292?via%3Dihub">7–9 hours</a> of sleep per night, and the estimated cost of this inadequate sleep is <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/41/8/zsy083/5025924">A$45 billion</a> each year.</p> <p>Inadequate sleep is linked to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2147/NSS.S134864">long-term health problems</a> including poor mental health, heart disease, metabolic disease and deaths from any cause.</p> <h2>Can a fancy hotel give you a better sleep?</h2> <p>Many of the sleep services available in the sleep tourism industry aim to optimise the bedroom for sleep. This is a core component of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4400203/?ref=askdoctorjad.com">sleep hygiene</a> – a series of healthy sleep practices that facilitate good sleep including sleeping in a comfortable bedroom with a good mattress and pillow, sleeping in a quiet environment and relaxing before bed.</p> <p>The more people follow sleep hygiene practices, the better their <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08964280209596396">sleep quality and quantity</a>.</p> <p>When we are staying in a hotel we are also likely away from any stressors we encounter in everyday life (such as work pressure or caring responsibilities). And we’re away from potential nighttime disruptions to sleep we might experience at home (the construction work next door, restless pets, unsettled children). So regardless of the sleep features hotels offer, it is likely we will experience improved sleep when we are away.</p> <h2>What the science says about catching up on sleep</h2> <p>In the short-term, <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-it-possible-to-catch-up-on-sleep-we-asked-five-experts-98699#:%7E:text=We%20can%20catch%20up%20on,and%20we%20cannot%20resist%20sleep.">we can catch up on sleep</a>. This can happen, for example, after a short night of sleep when our brain accumulates “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07420528.2012.675256">sleep pressure</a>”. This term describes how strong the biological drive for sleep is. More sleep pressure makes it easier to sleep the next night and to sleep for longer.</p> <p>But while a longer sleep the next night can relieve the sleep pressure, it does not reverse the <a href="https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/pdf/10.5664/jcsm.26918">effects of the short sleep on our brain and body</a>. Every night’s sleep is important for our body to recover and for our brain to process the events of that day. Spending a holiday “catching up” on sleep could help you feel more rested, but it is not a substitute for prioritising regular healthy sleep at home.</p> <p>All good things, including holidays, must come to an end. Unfortunately the perks of sleep tourism may end too.</p> <p>Our bodies do not like variability in the time of day that we sleep. The most common example of this is called “<a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/12/4543">social jet lag</a>”, where weekday sleep (getting up early to get to work or school) is vastly different to weekend sleep (late nights and sleep ins). This can result in a sleepy, grouchy start to the week on Monday. Sleep tourism may be similar, if you do not come back home with the intention to prioritise sleep.</p> <p>So we should be mindful that as well as sleeping well on holiday, it is important to optimise conditions at home to get consistent, adequate sleep every night.</p> <h2>5 tips for having a sleep holiday at home</h2> <p>An AI-powered mattress and a sleep butler at home might be the dream. But these features are not the only way we can optimise our sleep environment and give ourselves the best chance to get a good night’s sleep. Here are five ideas to start the night right:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> avoid bright artificial light in the evening (such as bright overhead lights, phones, laptops)</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> make your bed as comfortable as possible with fresh pillows and a supportive mattress</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> use black-out window coverings and maintain a cool room temperature for the ideal sleeping environment</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> establish an evening wind-down routine, such as a warm shower and reading a book before bed or even a “<a href="https://theconversation.com/turns-out-the-viral-sleepy-girl-mocktail-is-backed-by-science-should-you-try-it-222151">sleepy girl mocktail</a>”</p> <p><strong>5.</strong> use consistency as the key to a good sleep routine. Aim for a similar bedtime and wake time – even on weekends.<!-- 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/231718/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/charlotte-gupta-347235">Charlotte Gupta</a>, Senior postdoctoral research fellow, Appleton Institute, HealthWise research group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dean-j-miller-808724">Dean J. Miller</a>, Adjunct Research Fellow, Appleton Institute of Behavioural Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/sleep-tourism-promises-the-trip-of-your-dreams-beyond-the-hype-plus-5-tips-for-a-holiday-at-home-231718">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

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How to buy a home: 7 tips for negotiating like a pro

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/park-thaichon-175182">Park Thaichon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p>The main purpose of negotiation is to find a mutually acceptable solution for buyers and sellers. Good negotiations greatly improve relationships between buyers, sellers and agents. They also help avoid future problems and conflicts.</p> <p>Negotiating skills become even more important for home buyers in a “seller’s market”, where demand from buyers exceeds supply from sellers. That’s <a href="https://propertyupdate.com.au/australian-property-market-predictions/">currently the case</a> in all Australian capital cities and major regional cities such as Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and others.</p> <p>Many home buyers mistakenly believe negotiation only occurs during the signing of the sale contract. However, it involves distinct stages: <em>pre-negotiation</em> and <em>during negotiation</em>.</p> <p>So how can people maximise their chances of successfully negotiating a purchase in a seller’s market? I offer the following tips.</p> <h2>Be someone the seller’s agent wants to do business with</h2> <p>Buyers often communicate solely with the seller’s agent, rather than directly with the seller. It’s crucial to ensure the agent views the buyer positively. Ultimately, it’s the agent who presents offers to the seller for their decision.</p> <p>It’s important, then, to understand what might motivate the seller’s agent to choose your offer. The key performance indicator for the agent often revolves around closing a property sale at a reasonable price within a certain time.</p> <p>This means price is a crucial factor. However, other factors can influence the seller’s agent and seller.</p> <p>For example, having pre-approved finance can increase the agent’s confidence in the buyer. If the buyer appears serious, can make quick decisions and makes a good impression, the agent may be more motivated to push for them, even if their offer is slightly lower than others without pre-approved finance.</p> <h2>Be a big fish (for the seller’s agent)</h2> <p>The next strategy is to give the seller’s agent extra incentive to favour you and your offer. <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/MIP-09-2019-0489/full/html">Our research</a> in customer behaviour suggests businesses value customers who make frequent purchases or engage them for long-term services.</p> <p>For example, the agent would be pleased to learn that the buyer might be interested in buying another property in the near future or in using their rental service for the new property. You have an advantage if you can position yourself as someone who could provide them with extra business.</p> <h2>Point to competing options</h2> <p>In a positive manner, let the seller’s agent know you are considering two or three properties, and this specific property is among those you are inclined to make an offer on.</p> <p>In certain situations, it may stimulate competitive pricing when multiple properties of similar quality are available in the same area. Make it clear to the agent you will choose the property that offers you the best overall value.</p> <p>While this strategy might not necessarily lower the price in a seller’s market, it can prompt the agent to have a fuller discussion with you.</p> <h2>Think beyond price</h2> <p>The next set of tips focuses on the <em>during negotiation</em> stages. It can be challenging for buyers to negotiate a lower price in a market with low supply and high demand. You might have to “think outside the price box”.</p> <p>Buyers often have a specific price range or fixed budget in mind when they start discussions with a seller. However, other factors besides price can influence a property’s overall value.</p> <p>So if a seller won’t adjust the price, consider negotiating for other concessions that could reduce your expenses.</p> <p>These may include:</p> <p><strong>Settlement period</strong></p> <p>Consider the expenses associated with the settlement period. A shorter settlement period could enable buyers to move into the property sooner and save on rent. For example, if a buyer is paying $600 per week in rent, an early settlement could save them around $2,400 per month.</p> <p><strong>Insurance costs after contract signing</strong></p> <p>In many states, buyers’ <a href="https://www.finder.com.au/home-insurance/home-insurance-cost">home insurance cover</a> is required to begin from the date of contract signing. It’s reasonable for buyers to include a special condition requesting the seller to bear the insurance costs until settlement. On average, home insurance may amount to about $140 per month.</p> <p><strong>Cleaning expenses</strong></p> <p>Consider negotiating a condition stipulating that the seller must ensure the property is professionally cleaned by settlement. Failure to do so could result in a $500 adjustment in the buyer’s favour at settlement.</p> <p>In some states, like Queensland, sellers are not obligated to deliver a clean property. Based on typical end-of-lease cleaning charges, internal cleaning of a four-bedroom property could cost <a href="https://firstcallhomeservices.com.au/service-menu/bond-exit-end-lease-cleaning/">$455 to $590</a>.</p> <p><strong>Building and pest inspection costs</strong></p> <p>Buyers should always include a 14-day pre-purchase inspection clause for <a href="https://www.topdogpestcontrol.com.au/building-pest-inspections-gold-coast/">building and pest inspections</a> in their offer. Although they may cost $300 to $600, these inspections provide a clear report that could lead to negotiations after contract signing if they find any issues with the property.</p> <h2>Be careful with your first offer</h2> <p>Don’t present the first offer in writing. It can be challenging to negotiate down the price once it has been written in an offer document.</p> <p>Instead, the buyer should begin by testing the expected price of the property. As well as obtaining property reports from multiple banks, the buyer could talk with the seller’s agent in person about a price range that would be agreeable to the seller.</p> <p>You could include phrases like “a price that will make the seller happy” or “a price that will make the seller accept the offer”. While the agent might not provide a specific price, this talk can provide a guideline for the buyer. All properties up for auction or private sale should have an expected price set, which may or may not be discussed with potential buyers.</p> <p>It’s also advisable to consult a solicitor before submitting an offer or signing a contract. They can offer valuable suggestions to smooth the purchase process and identify any issues.</p> <h2>Use the power of 900</h2> <p>Buyers often submit offers with round numbers, such as $700,000 or $750,000. In a competitive seller’s market, aim to submit an offer with a number that stands out from the rest, yet remains within your budget.</p> <p>An example of such a number is $900. For instance, comparing $700,000 to $700,900, the extra $900 makes the offer feel closer to $710,000.</p> <h2>Write a personalised letter</h2> <p>It’s true the most important point of selling a house for many sellers is price. But they are human and have emotions. Finishing a purchasing offer with a personal letter to the seller can make a difference.</p> <p>Often that $3,000 to $20,000 could be a lot of money for a buyer, but it may not be as much for someone selling a house for $700,000 or $1,000,000. Write the letter to express your feelings about the property in a way that makes it clear you will care for it. Most people selling their home would prefer to have someone look after it well.<!-- 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/226237/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/park-thaichon-175182">Park Thaichon</a>, Associate Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-buy-a-home-7-tips-for-negotiating-like-a-pro-226237">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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Five tips to help you start new hobbies in retirement

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-bishop-1522973">Alison Bishop</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-east-london-924">University of East London</a></em></p> <p>Retirement can be an exciting but also scary prospect for many. How you fill your time is totally up to you, but with so many choices it can be a bit daunting. But it’s important to make sure you keep active, physically and mentally.</p> <p>Hobbies can <a href="https://www.careuk.com/help-advice/why-are-long-lost-hobbies-important-for-older-people">increase wellbeing</a> by boosting brain function, enhancing social skills and improving fine motor skills. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/366160647_Psychological_benefits_of_hobby_engagement_in_older_age_a_longitudinal_cross-country_analysis_of_93263_older_adults_in_16_countries">A study carried out in 2022</a> found that spending time on hobbies was associated with lower symptoms of depression and a perceived increase in a person’s sense of health, happiness and overall life satisfaction.</p> <p>However, many older people don’t take up hobbies for all sorts of reasons. This might include fears that they are not as good at something in their older age as they were when they were younger. This fear of trying new things can lead to increased feelings of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338142/">loneliness and isolation</a>.</p> <p>Here are five tips using <a href="https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/ppintroarticle.pdf">positive psychology</a> that could help you or someone in your life if they are scared or nervous about picking up a hobby.</p> <h2>1. Broaden your strengths</h2> <p>Our idea of what we are good at is formed at a very young age and often reflects subjects that we were good at in our school days. Positive psychology’s “<a href="https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths-and-virtues">theory of strengths</a>” encourages us to think more broadly about what constitutes a strength. For instance, it considers curiosity, kindness and bravery as strengths. When applied to choosing a hobby, it means that if you believe one of your strengths is kindness, you could consider working in outreach or charity as a hobby or spending time speaking with people who are housebound.</p> <h2>2. Find activities you already enjoy</h2> <p>The “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693418/pdf/15347528.pdf?inf_contact_key=9944754ba1372fa9ce5ee1421d8427bc">broaden and build theory”</a> suggests that when we feel positive emotions such joy or love, we are more likely to engage in new activities, thoughts and behaviours. It follows then, that if you look at times in your life when you experience these emotions this could help you start a new hobby. So, if you enjoy walking in the countryside, then the theory suggests that those feelings would enable you to join a rambling club.</p> <h2>3. Remember moments you’ve lost track of time</h2> <p>Another way to identify an activity that would be good to do is by using “<a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/flow-state#what-it-is">flow theory”</a>. This suggests that when we are doing something that we become completely absorbed in, that our brainwave patterns change and we can lose track of time. For this to happen, we need an activity that is meaningful to us to complete, with just the right amount of challenge so that it is not too easy or too hard.</p> <p>An exercise that reveals your personal flow template involves looking back on your life to find as many times as possible when you’ve been doing something and completely lost track of time. Write these down and see if these moments have anything in common. For example, are they all creative activities or all outdoors and physical? This will reveal something about yourself and the type of activity that is aligned with who you are, and could suggest new hobbies.</p> <h2>4. Be kind to yourself</h2> <p>“<a href="https://self-compassion.org/">Self-compassion theory</a>” teaches us the importance of being as kind to ourselves as we would be to a friend. When we are thinking about what we are good at, we can be unkind to ourselves by comparing ourselves unfavourably to others or to an imagined high standard.</p> <p>Self-compassion theory states that our imperfections make us human, and it is our shared knowledge of this that connects us to others. Where a goal in an activity is kindness with ourselves and those doing the activity with us rather than performance, we can access a new more meaningful reason to take part in something.</p> <h2>5. Imagine your perfect day</h2> <p>The last tip from positive psychology involves creating <a href="https://www.thepositivepsychologypeople.com/reflections-on-a-beautiful-day/">a story of the perfect average day</a> and then planning to actually live it. How do your hobbies fit into this? How does this day tap into your broadened idea of your strengths? How does it include kindness to yourself and others?</p> <p>It also helps to identify goals either for retirement more generally or for participating in a hobby. By picturing the perfect average day you can create more meaning and purpose in life by seeing how all the parts of your life fit together. It also reveals short term goals for example, if you plan to go to an art club but can’t get there, then a goal could be asking for a lift from another club member. When these pieces are in place, hope is ignited, and a vision created of how life can go forward so that you really can live your best retired life.<!-- 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/alison-bishop-1522973">Alison Bishop</a>, Lecturer in Positive Psychology Coaching, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-east-london-924">University of East London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-tips-to-help-you-start-new-hobbies-in-retirement-226764">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Retirement Life

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Everything you need to know about tipping in the US

<p>There are few social customs in the US more confusing to travellers than tipping.</p> <p>To most Americans, gratuities are normal, like adding sales tax at the register. To foreign visitors, though, the very idea can induce anxiety or panic.</p> <p>We're notoriously poor tippers. Partly this is accidental ignorance, but partly it is self-righteous rejection of an institution many of us see as unfair. I once had a meal in New York with a woman from Brisbane who refused to tip "on principle." I nodded in agreement ... and then tipped for both of us.</p> <p>The truth is, federal minimum wage for adults in the US is just US$7.25 an hour. In industries where tipping is routine, employers are legally allowed to pay wages as low as US$2.13 an hour.</p> <p>So while travellers may stage a quiet rebellion, refusing to tip, the bereaved party is never going to be the restaurant owners (who earns their profit through the itemised bill), but the poor waiters.</p> <p>Until the US government raises minimum wages to Australian levels (something that will probably never happen), tipping is here to stay. Which means travellers need to accept it, then learn the rules.</p> <p>First rule: After clearing immigration get your hands on a stack of "singles" (US$1 bills). You're going to need them.</p> <p><strong>Getting around</strong></p> <p>In theory, tips should only go to people who are helpful; the more helpful, the more bountiful their reward. In reality, tips are par for the course, and to "stiff" somebody is tantamount to slapping them in the face.</p> <p>If a airport porter helps you with your bags, give them US$1-2 per bag. If they meet you at the gate with a wheelchair, give them US$3-5. </p> <p>For most travellers, the first real test comes with transports away from the airport. If you're lucky enough to have a hotel worker collect you from Arrivals, give them US$10-15 for the effort.</p> <p>If you take a taxi, a little more thought will be required. Many taxis now have seat-back displays that offer "default tipping" amounts at the end of a journey: in New York, 20, 25, and 30 per cent. You should only really tip 30 per cent if the taxi turns out to be the Batmobile, getting you to your destination in record time. Even 20 per cent can sometimes feels a little high. Tipping is subjective: I often manually override the default, leaving 15-20 per cent, or a few extra dollars if I'm paying in cash.</p> <p>If you hire a car and take advantage of valet (all but mandatory in Los Angeles), be prepared to tip the worker US$3-5 upon pick-up, depending on how ritzy the establishment is. A quick rule of thumb: more ritz equals more tip. </p> <p><strong>Hotels</strong></p> <p>If you arrive at the hotel and somebody opens the door for you, that's on the house. If they carry your bags, that is not on the house. Give them US$2-3 a bag.</p> <p>If the hotel has a concierge, their friendliness isn't contingent on your generosity. But if they perform a service for you - book a trip, hire a car, charter a private jet to the Bahamas - acknowledge this effort with US$10-20 at the end of your stay, presented with a handshake.</p> <p>One case where tipping can have a direct impact on the quality of service you receive is housekeeping. Each morning, leave US$2-5 on your pillow with a thank you note. This ensures different cleaners get their due, and it also means cleaners will be extra diligent for the rest of your stay. If you think this is a little rich, keep in mind that these people are picking up your dirty towels, so spare change for a cup of coffee is the least you can do.  </p> <p>One point of confusion with hotel tipping is the in-room dining. Some hotels include a default tip on their dining bills; some include a "service charge," which goes to the hotel, and should not be treated as a tip. If there's no obvious tip included on the bill, slip the server 15-20 per cent when they knock on your door.</p> <p><strong>Dining and drinking</strong></p> <p>Nobody can force you to tip in a restaurant, though they can try to counteract your miserliness by stating on the menu that tips are automatically added to the final charge. This is increasingly common in areas catering to large numbers of foreign travellers; it's also pretty standard when your table has more than six people. </p> <p>If tips have been added by the time you come to hand over your card, no further gratuity is needed. If no tip has been included, you might need to leave some money on the table. How much exactly depends on what kind of table it is.</p> <p>If it is a fast food table, no tip. If it is a table at a restaurant ranging from modest diner to upmarket eatery, 15-20 per cent for the waiter is standard (err on the high side in major cities like New York and San Francisco). If you leave less than 15 per cent, staff will assume you weren't happy with their service.</p> <p>If you leave two pennies on top of the bill - a code - they will know you were very unhappy, and feel bad even as they silently loathe you for being a Scrooge. It is almost never okay to withhold a tip; if you're considering doing that, you should also be considering complaining to the manager.  </p> <p>If it is a very fancy restaurant, perhaps one with Michelin stars, prepare to hand over 25 per cent of the bill (before tax) to the waiter, who will divide it up among his or her support staff. You should also tip the sommelier if they suggest wine, and perhaps the maitre'd, if they gave you a fabulous table.     </p> <p>Always, without exception, tip a bartender a dollar for every drink; bigger tips can mean stronger second cocktails in my experience.</p> <p>As for coffee shops, despite the increasing prevalence of tip jars, and "suggested tips" when paying with a card, this is cheekiness and should only be taken seriously if the barista goes out of their way, like the man who once drew Darth Vader in my cappuccino crema.</p> <p><strong>Everything else</strong></p> <p>This guide covers the most common situations a traveller will have to contend when in the US, though the list is not exhaustive.</p> <p>For example, do you tip a massage therapist? Yes, 10-20 per cent. A hairdresser? Same. Tour guide or hiking leader? 15-20 per cent of the total charge, depending on their performance.</p> <p>That Elvis impersonator who officiated your wedding in a Las Vegas chapel? Same.</p> <p>Tip anyone, in fact, that provides you with a service: 15 per cent is a good default to keep in mind.</p> <p>Just remember, nobody is affronted by the offer of a gratuity, so you shouldn't feel bashful about giving one.</p> <p><em>Written by Lance Richardson. First appeared on <a href="http://Stuff.co.nz" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz</span></strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

International Travel

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10 tips for a better night’s sleep in a hotel room

<p>From noisy neighbours to unbearable bedding, a good night’s sleep in a hotel room can be hard to come by. Here are 10 tips to help you get decent shut eye.</p> <p><strong>1. Book a room midway down a hallway</strong></p> <p>This is generally the quietest part of the floor, way from ice and wending machines, laundry facilities, exits, closets and any other places where sudden noises might occur.</p> <p><strong>2. Try to avoid rooms facing a pool</strong></p> <p>While the view is something to admire, pools can also be the sight of noise generating late-night gathering and any sounds generally echo loudly off the water.</p> <p><strong>3. Inquire at the front desk about pillow options</strong></p> <p>If the wrong pillow gives you back or neck pain have a chat to the front desk when checking in. Most hotels stock pillows of varying firmness, and can offer a better fit.</p> <p><strong>4. Pack earplugs and eyeshades</strong></p> <p>When you’re struggling to get to sleep the tiniest noise or ray of light can end up being a huge distraction. Nip this in the bud by packing earplugs and eyeshades.</p> <p><strong>5. Turn your mobile phone off</strong></p> <p>Mobile notifications can be a huge distraction (particularly when they’re coming from friends and family in different time zones). Turn your phone off, and enjoy the bliss. </p> <p><strong>6. Make use of your ‘do not disturb’ sign</strong></p> <p>If you’re planning to sleep in make sure you put your ‘do not disturb’ sign on the outside doorknob, otherwise you might get a rude awakening from a housekeeper.</p> <p><strong>7. Report any noises immediately</strong></p> <p>Sometimes a quick pound of the wall will quiet down a noisy neighbour, but this doesn’t always work. If the people in the room next to you won’t keep quiet, make sure you let the front desk know and they can take the necessary actions.</p> <p><strong>8. Adjust the room temperature</strong></p> <p>Most people sleep better in a cooler room, so make sure you adjust the temperature to whatever is the best fit for you to get sleep. Even just opening the window a tiny little crack can make a big difference in terms of your overall comfort levels.</p> <p><strong>9. Ask the front desk about blackout shades</strong></p> <p>Particularly if you’re staying in a city that’s full of lights, noises and distractions, blackout shades can provide you with a level of peace and comfort that will help you sleep.</p> <p><strong>10. Consider bringing your own sheets</strong></p> <p>Particularly if you’ve got skin sensitives, it’s generally a good idea to bring your own sheets (if you’ve got enough space). The familiar scent and feel will really help you sleep.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Julie Goodwin shares her top tips for perfect potatoes every time

<p dir="ltr">Who doesn't love a good, hearty, delicious serving of fluffy and decadent potatoes?</p> <p dir="ltr">Original <em>MasterChef Australia</em> champion Julie Goodwin has shared her ultimate hacks for cooking the perfect potatoes every time, whether they’re mashed, roasted or baked.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Julie, there are three key things every home cook needs to keep in mind the next time potatoes are on the menu. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Make sure you have the right potatoes </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Depending on whether you want baked, mashed, roasted, or any other way you want to prepare your potatoes, it all starts in the supermarket. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I find that for things like mashed potatoes and gnocchi and rostis you want a floury potato, so the general rule is dirty potatoes for those things," Julie told <em><a href="https://kitchen.nine.com.au/latest/julie-goodwin-top-three-tips-to-cook-potatoes-robertson-potato-festival/4d16ba12-bf14-4af2-990e-dcf0e89c30ee">9Honey</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"And then for stuff like potato salads, boiled baby potatoes, and potato bake, it's better to have a waxy potato because they hold their substance better. And those are the ones that are sold clean, so things like the Pontiac and Desiree with the pink skin or the washed potatoes with the white skin."</p> <p dir="ltr">"If you want to use them in an Irish stew to break down and thicken the sauce you've got to use a floury potato," she says. "So tend to your dirty ones."</p> <p dir="ltr">She says that if you're buying a clean, waxy potato, you won't have to peel them since the skin is supposed to be edible.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, if you're buying a dirty, floury potato, then you're going to want to peel the dirt off first and then wash off the residue.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Get those crispy edges </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">As every home cook knows, the key to the perfect roasted potato is for the inside to be soft and fluffy while the outside stays crispy. </p> <p dir="ltr">It can be a tricky balance to master, but Goodwin says there's a simple way to get it right every time.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I like to par boil them before I roast them. Just so that they go a bit fluffy around the edges," she explains. "What happens is those bits go really crispy and lovely."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Let the flavour flow </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to seasoning your potatoes, it's hard to know what flavours will suit your dish best. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Goodwin, more is less when you season potatoes, so it's best to close the spice cabinet.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Salt is absolutely the number one, pepper's beautiful [but] it depends on what the meal is," she says. "So if you're doing a bit of a Portuguese or Spanish inspired meal you might put some paprika on there.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"But I really love rosemary and that's beautiful if you pound that up with your salt and put it on the potatoes that makes it really nice."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Aussie cruising fanatics share their top cruise tips

<p dir="ltr">An Aussie couple who are dedicated to cruising have shared their top tips to keep in mind before setting sail. </p> <p dir="ltr">Marty and Jessica Ansen are about to set off on their 130th cruise and have made headlines around the world for their devotion to spending most of their lives at sea.</p> <p dir="ltr">Together they have sailed roughly 770,000 nautical miles over more than 2,300 days on board, which equates to more than six years spent at sea.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Brisbane grandparents, both 77, have just headed off on their tenth trip around the globe, which is also their 52nd consecutive cruise adventure. </p> <p dir="ltr">During all their time spent at seas, the Ansens have learned a thing or two about life onboard, and have shared their top ten tips to make time on a cruise ship as smooth sailing as possible.</p> <p dir="ltr">Their number one tip for cruise travellers is to take a backup credit or debit card, as Marty told<em> <a href="https://travel.nine.com.au/cruising/cruise-tips-couple-princess-cruises-marty-and-jessica-ansen-australia/c61281dd-c47a-41bf-b166-608b581eccdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9Travel</a></em>, "Replacing a lost or stolen card while overseas is not for the fainthearted."</p> <p dir="ltr">The Ansens recommend making a clear and legible copy of your passport, as consulates find it a lot easier if you can provide a copy ready to go when you disembark.</p> <p dir="ltr">After all their years at sea, Marty and Jessica are pro-packers, and recommend wearing all your heaviest clothing when you check in to better adhere to a strict weight limit. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Jessica and I have one piece of luggage, usually under 20kg," Marty said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We also each have one bag of hand luggage. Going on board, regardless of weather, I wear my heaviest clothing."</p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to packing, they also advise leaving your toiletries at home. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Leave consumables like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and any creams and potions at home as Princess (cruise line) provides basic toiletries and anything you do need can be bought at the first port," Marty said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Marty and Jessica also recommend packing all your essentials in your hand luggage, as it can often take a while for your checked bags to arrive in your cruise ship cabin. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Place all jewellery, passports, visas, medication money and credit/debit cards in your hand luggage for easy retrieval," Marty said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Marty said one thing every traveller must check before setting sail is what electrical connection is used onboard. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Check what electrical connection is used onboard and have the right adapter ready to charge your devices,' Marty said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many ships have American and European plug points, while newer ones may have USB connections too.</p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to bringing medications, the Ansens said you should always bring extras, as well as the required paperwork.</p> <p dir="ltr">"As an extra precaution carry copies of scripts so that if you do run out or lose your medications it will be easier to prove what you need to overseas pharmacies or doctors," Marty said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lastly, like any overseas adventure, the Ansens said it is important to always have travel insurance, and to make copies of your policy. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: X (Twitter)</em></p>

Cruising

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Battling to make ends meet? Financial planning expert offers 5 tips on how to build your budget

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bomikazi-zeka-680577">Bomikazi Zeka</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p>Every day seems to bring new headlines about rising costs. <a href="https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/nigerias-big-unions-call-indefinite-strike-over-fuel-prices-and-the-cost-of-living-20230926">In Nigeria</a>, unions are threatening to strike amid soaring fuel prices; the country’s inflation rate <a href="https://www.cbn.gov.ng/rates/inflrates.asp">hit 25%</a> in August. The amount it costs to fill a food basket in South Africa <a href="https://pmbejd.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/PMBEJD_Key-Data_September-2023_27092023.pdf">keeps climbing</a>. Ghanaians <a href="https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/multi-day-protests-over-economic-crisis-grip-ghanas-capital-2023-09-23/">took to the streets</a> of Accra in late September to protest about the cost of living.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/retail-distribution/consumer-behavior-trends-state-of-the-consumer-tracker.html">recent study by the audit and consulting firm Deloitte</a> found that 75% of South Africans were concerned that the prices for everyday purchases would continue to increase, while 80% of consumers across all income groups expected the prices of groceries, household utilities and fuel to rise.</p> <p>This stark reality means budgeting may be more necessary than ever.</p> <p>If you don’t know how to create a budget, then you shouldn’t feel bad – most adults aren’t taught how to create one. And most people don’t budget, because they see it as restrictive or unsustainable. But it need not be: once you appreciate that a budget can work for you, it can be a financially empowering exercise. It’s a cornerstone of financial planning because it ensures you are living within your means and helps you remain in financial control.</p> <p>As a financial planning academic, I focus in <a href="https://researchprofiles.canberra.edu.au/en/persons/bomikazi-zeka/publications/">my research</a> on improving financial wellbeing and promoting savings behaviours through interventions such as budgeting. Here are five guidelines for creating a budget.</p> <h2>1. Apps vs spreadsheet</h2> <p>A good place to start is to choose the format of how you’re going to budget. There are several <a href="https://www.sanlamreality.co.za/wealth-sense/setting-up-a-family-budget-that-works/">online templates</a> and apps you can use for budgeting. For instance, <a href="https://www.22seven.com/">22Seven</a> has gained popularity in South Africa due to its compatibility with several financial institutions, including the country’s big five banks. Similarly, <a href="https://www.the-star.co.ke/business/kenya/2021-01-25-budgeting-using-mint-app/">Mint</a> is a popular budgeting tool that is used in Kenya and Nigeria.</p> <p>If you prefer to put pen to paper, some online templates come with <a href="https://www.wonga.co.za/blog/free-budget-template">free printable budgets</a>. Creating your own <a href="https://create.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/articles/how-to-make-excel-budget">Excel spreadsheet</a> is an equally good approach.</p> <p>What matters most is using a tool that you can commit to.</p> <h2>2. Itemising your income and expenses</h2> <p>A budget essentially shows how much you’re spending in relation to how much you’re earning. So once you have selected your budgeting tool, you need to fill in your income and itemise how much you’re spending on each expense in a month. A budget can be considered a cashflow statement because it allows you to track money coming in (income) and money going out (expenses).</p> <p>If you are living within your means, your budget should indicate a surplus – more cash inflows than cash outflows. So budgeting provides an accurate account of your short-term financial position.</p> <h2>3. A realistic account of expenses</h2> <p>When you look at your financial statements, fill your expenses into your budget honestly and accurately. Don’t cheat! Since everyone’s financial situation is different, your budget will also be unique.</p> <p>Even though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to budgeting, it should still consider all of your expenses (both regular and intermittent). A general rule of thumb is that if it’s deducted from your account then you should treat it as an expense. This includes payments for housing, medical insurance, fuel, dining out, credit card repayments and even bank fees.</p> <h2>4. Save first, spend later</h2> <p>Now you’ve seen how much you’re spending. Either it’s too much – and you can plan where to cut back – or you have savings at the end of the month.</p> <p>When compiling your budget it’s important to demarcate how much will be in the form of savings. What’s more important is getting into the habit of saving before you spend instead of saving after spending. If you spend first then you’ve deprived yourself of the opportunity to save for a rainy day.</p> <p>Furthermore, <a href="https://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/10231/1/Microsoft_Word_-_submitted_version_3rd_June_201.pdf">research</a> has shown that getting into the habit of saving has a transgenerational effect: it can be considered a cultural value that is passed on from one generation to another. So think of saving as paying yourself first. Once you have done so, you won’t feel guilty for treating yourself because you’ve already done the financially responsible thing by putting your savings aside.</p> <h2>5. Considering assets and liabilities</h2> <p>Once you’ve become comfortable with consistently budgeting, you can take it up a notch by including your assets (everything you own with an economic value) and liabilities (everything you owe) to determine your overall financial position.</p> <p>You can get a clearer picture of your overall financial wellbeing by compiling a list of all your assets, for example your savings and <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/home_equity.asp">home equity</a>, in relation to liabilities (such as bank loans). Knowing your long-term financial position can indicate how financially resilient or vulnerable you are. In the event of a financial emergency, you will know which resources you can draw upon to meet an unexpected expense.</p> <p>By creating a budget (and sticking to it), you can protect yourself and your household from financial shocks. Consider the alternative. Imagine you haven’t budgeted and set savings aside. If a financial emergency were to arise, your next best bet would be to borrow the funds you need. You’d have to come up with a plan to repay what you’d borrowed while also building your savings.</p> <h2>A healthy habit</h2> <p>Getting into the habit of budgeting isn’t easy, especially if you haven’t done it before or you’re intimidated by the process. But, as the expression goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Think of budgeting as taking a small but important step towards reclaiming control over your finances and improving your financial well-being.<!-- 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/214861/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/bomikazi-zeka-680577">Bomikazi Zeka</a>, Assistant Professor in Finance and Financial Planning, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/battling-to-make-ends-meet-financial-planning-expert-offers-5-tips-on-how-to-build-your-budget-214861">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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5 tips to keep your dog happy when indoors

<p>The cooler months are well and truly here and the dreary weather is enough to make anyone a little sad, including our furry friends. According to a study by veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, one in three dogs experience a downturn in mood during winter months. If the rain is preventing you getting out and about, here are five tips to keep your pooch happy and healthy when indoors.</p> <p><strong>1. Stair work/treadmill/indoor pool</strong></p> <p>Use what you have in your home. If you live in a multi-storey place, playing fetch up or down the stairs is a fun way for your pooch to get a workout. Alternatively, if you have a treadmill at home, use it to walk your dog on a rainy day. Swimming is also a great physical activity, particularly if dogs have joint problems.</p> <p><strong>2. Obedience training</strong></p> <p>Dust off the training books and work with your pooch to improve their obedience skills. It will keep your furry friend mentally active and dispel any boredom.</p> <p><strong>3. Hide and seek</strong></p> <p>Dogs need their senses stimulated – it’s why when they’re outside they will listen, sniff and dig out anything that’s out of the ordinary. Keep your furry friend entertained with a game of hide and seek. Place healthy treats around the house to get your pooch curious and exploring old surrounds.</p> <p><strong>4. Rotation diet</strong></p> <p>Rotating proteins (meats, fish, and poultry) and mixing in different forms of food (wet, dry and raw) will keep your dog interested in food and eating. Consult your vet about the type of diet your dog should be on for optimal health.</p> <p><strong>5. Play time</strong></p> <p>Interactive toys are a great way to pass time, stimulate and entertain your pooch inside. Puzzle toys, Kong balls with treats stuffed inside or just some one-on-one indoor play time will keep your four-legged friend happy.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Days are getting shorter and colder. 6 tips for sticking to your fitness goal

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/juliana-s-oliveira-709434">Juliana S. Oliveira</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-tiedemann-409380">Anne Tiedemann</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathie-sherrington-561141">Cathie Sherrington</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leanne-hassett-1497197">Leanne Hassett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Daylight saving ends this weekend. The days are shorter and getting colder. It’s less appealing to cycle to work, walk after dinner, or wake up early to hit the gym. But we all know daily physical activity is essential for our health and wellbeing.</p> <p>Physical activity releases feel-good neurotransmitters in our brains, which help to alleviate <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/57/18/1203">stress, anxiety, and depression</a>. It also helps <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/physical-activity.htm#:%7E:text=Regular%20physical%20activity%20helps%20improve,depression%20and%20anxiety%2C%20and%20dementia.">prevent diseases</a> such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Regular physical activity can prolong life and improve overall quality of life.</p> <p>However, many of us find it difficult to achieve the <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/24/1451">recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity</a> each week. In fact, three out of ten Australians and half of Australians aged 65 and over are <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/physical-activity/physical-activity">inactive</a>.</p> <p>So, what can you do to stay motivated and keep moving regularly through the darker months? Here are some tips.</p> <h2>1. Nail those goals</h2> <p>Goals can provide us with a sense of purpose, meaning and direction. But just aiming to “get fit” is less likely to cut it than goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.</p> <p><strong>Specific</strong> goals are based on an observable behaviour or activity, such as step count, yoga, or competing in an event.</p> <p><strong>Measurable</strong> goals can be tracked, so you can easily tell whether you have ticked them off.</p> <p><strong>Achievable</strong> goals are realistic and based on your current fitness and abilities. But they can and should still be challenging. If you’ve only ever run 5 kilometres, it won’t be realistic to aim for a half marathon in the next month. But you could aim for 10 kilometres.</p> <p><strong>Relevant</strong> goals hold personal meaning for you. Articulating why it’s important will help motivate you to do it.</p> <p><strong>Time-bound</strong> goals include a target date for achieving them. You can always revisit your deadline if you’re ahead of schedule or if it’s too unrealistic.</p> <p>An example of a SMART goal could be: “I will walk 10,000 steps every weekday within a month.” Then you can break it down into short-term goals to make it more achievable. If you currently walk 6,000 steps each day, you can increase steps by 1,000 every week to reach 10,000 by the end of the month.</p> <h2>2. Keep track</h2> <p>More than <a href="https://www.deloitte.com/au/en/Industries/tmt/blogs/digital-consumer-trends-who-is-purchasing-what-now.html">90% of Australians own a smartphone</a> and more than <a href="https://www.deloitte.com/au/en/Industries/telecom-media-entertainment/blogs/digital-consumer-trends-touch-less-healthier-wiser.html">two in ten own a fitness tracker or a smartwatch</a>. These devices can help you track your goals and activity, keep you accountable and increase your motivation.</p> <p>A 2021 systematic review suggests fitness trackers and smartphone apps <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/55/8/422">can assist people</a> to increase their step count by up to 2,000 steps per day. <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/54/20/1188">Our research</a> demonstrated fitness trackers can also be helpful in increasing physical activity among older people. If you don’t have a fitness tracker, you can buy low-cost pedometers or track your activity times using paper and pen.</p> <h2>3. Plan for success but prepare for barriers</h2> <p>Take some time to think about the potential barriers that could prevent you from being active and plan solutions to overcome them.</p> <p>For example, if the cost of physical activity is too high for you, try to find options that are free, such as walking or running. You can also consider free online programs or streaming videos.</p> <p>If you find it difficult to fit exercise into your busy schedule, try exercising early in the morning before you start your day and laying out your workout clothes the night before. You could consider joining a gym with flexible timetables. A good strategy is to try to fit physical activity into your daily routine, such as walking or cycling to work.</p> <p>If you are living with a chronic health condition or disability, consider seeking guidance from a health professional such as an <a href="https://www.essa.org.au/Public/SearchAEP.aspx?WebsiteKey=44cfee74-3fc3-444e-bb5f-77729c390872">exercise physiologist</a> or <a href="https://choose.physio/find-a-physio">physiotherapist</a>. Start slow and gradually increase your activity and find something you enjoy so you are more likely to keep doing it.</p> <h2>4. Team up with a workout friend</h2> <p>Physical activity can be more fun when you do it with someone else. Studies show <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167494322002953?via%253Dihub&amp;sa=D&amp;source=docs&amp;ust=1712015093947627&amp;usg=AOvVaw1XGQBMDMFspL5YrQtKo3h">working out with friends can be more motivating and enjoyable</a>. It can also help with accountability, as some people are more likely to show up when they have a workout partner. So, <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)60407-9/fulltext">find a friend</a> who supports your goal of being more active or maintaining your current activity levels.</p> <h2>5. Plan yourself a little treat</h2> <p>Make an appointment with yourself in your diary to exercise. Approach it as just as important as meeting a friend or colleague. One idea is to delay something you’d rather do and make it a reward for sticking to your activity appointment. If you really want to go out for coffee, do a hobby, or watch something, go for a walk first.</p> <p>Research shows <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-019-0164-3">incentives can dramatically increase physical activity levels</a>.</p> <h2>6. Find a coach</h2> <p>If you want more support, <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/19/1425">health coaching</a> might be an option.</p> <p>Trained professionals work one-on-one with people, sometimes via telehealth, to find out what’s reducing their motivation to make healthier choices, such as exercise. Then they employ behaviour change techniques to help them meet their health goals.</p> <p>Our recent research suggests health coaching can improve physical activity in <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/58/7/382">older people</a> and those with <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S183695532400002X">chronic pain</a>. In <a href="https://www.gethealthynsw.com.au/#:%7E:text=About%20the%20Get%20Healthy%20Service&amp;text=Delivered%20by%20NSW%20Health%2C%20the,and%20achieve%20your%20health%20goals">New South Wales</a>, <a href="https://lifeprogram.org.au/">Victoria</a> and <a href="https://www.myhealthforlife.com.au/">Queensland</a>, these sessions are government-subsidised or free.<!-- 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/226619/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/juliana-s-oliveira-709434">Juliana S. Oliveira</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Physical Activity, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/anne-tiedemann-409380">Anne Tiedemann</a>, Professor of Physical Activity and Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cathie-sherrington-561141">Cathie Sherrington</a>, Professor, Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, School of Public Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leanne-hassett-1497197">Leanne Hassett</a>, Associate Professor in Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/days-are-getting-shorter-and-colder-6-tips-for-sticking-to-your-fitness-goals-226619">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Here’s why having chocolate can make you feel great or a bit sick – plus 4 tips for better eating

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Australians are <a href="https://www.retail.org.au/media/sweet-spending-boon-predicted-for-easter-retail">predicted</a> to spend around A$1.7 billion on chocolates, hot cross buns and other special foods this Easter season.</p> <p>Chocolate has a long history of production and consumption. It is made from cacao beans that go through processes including fermentation, drying, roasting and grounding. What is left is a rich and fatty liquor that is pressed to remove the fat (cocoa butter) and the cacao (or “cocoa”) powder which will then be mixed with different ingredients to produce dark, milk, white and other types of chocolates.</p> <p>There are several health benefits and potential problems that come in these sweet chocolatey packages.</p> <h2>The good news</h2> <p>Cacao beans contain <a href="https://foodstruct.com/food/cocoa-bean">minerals</a> like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus and some vitamins. They are also rich in beneficial chemicals called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23150750/">polyphenols</a>.</p> <p>These are great antioxidants, with the potential to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">improve heart health</a>, increase <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25164923/">nitric oxide</a> (which dilates blood vessels) and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488419/">reduce blood pressure</a>, provide food for gut microbiota and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1908">promote gut health</a>, boost the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">immune system</a> and reduce inflammation.</p> <p>However, the concentration of polyphenols in the chocolate we eat depends largely on the cocoa solid amounts used in the final product.</p> <p>In general terms, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids, minerals and polyphenols it has. For example, dark chocolates may have around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">seven times more polyphenols</a> compared to white chocolates and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">three times more polyphenols</a> compared to milk chocolates.</p> <h2>But also some bad news</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treat-or-treatment-chocolate-is-good-but-cocoa-is-better-for-your-heart-3084">health benefits of cocoa solids</a> are easily offset by the high sugar and fat content of modern-day chocolates. For example, milk and white chocolate eggs are on average 50% sugar, 40% fat (mostly saturated fats) – which means a lot of added kilojoules (calories).</p> <p>Also, there may be some side effects that come with ingesting chocolate.</p> <p>Cocoa beans include a compound called theobromine. While it has the anti-inflammatory properties responsible for some of the health benefits of chocolate, it is also a mild brain stimulant that acts in a similar way to caffeine. The mood boost it offers may also be partly responsible for how much we <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2015.00030/full?crsi=662496658&amp;cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&amp;cicada_org_mdm=direct">like chocolate</a>. Dark chocolate has higher theobromine compared to milk and white chocolate.</p> <p>But accordingly, overindulging in chocolate (and therefore theobromine) may lead to feeling restless, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">headaches</a> and nausea.</p> <h2>What else is in your chocolate?</h2> <p>Milk and dairy-based chocolates may also cause stomach upset, abdominal pain and bloating in people with <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/health-advice/lactose-intolerance">lactose intolerance</a>. This happens when we don’t produce enough lactase enzymes to digest milk sugar (lactose).</p> <p>People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate up to 6 grams of lactose without showing symptoms. Milk chocolate can have around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310258/">3 grams of lactose</a> per 40 grams (the size of a standard chocolate bar). So two chocolate bars (or the equivalent in milk chocolate eggs or bunnies) may be enough to cause symptoms.</p> <p>It’s worth noting that lactase enzyme activity dramatically declines as we age, with the highest activity in newborns and children. So lactose sensitivity or intolerance may not be such an issue for your kids and your symptoms may increase over time. Genetics also plays a major role in how sensitive people are to lactose.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6815241/">Allergic reactions</a> to chocolate are usually due to the added ingredients or cross-contamination with potential allergens such as nuts, milk, soy, and some sweeteners used in the production of chocolate.</p> <p>Symptoms can be mild (acne, rashes and stomach pain) or more severe (swelling of the throat and tongue and shortness of breath).</p> <p>If you or your family members have known allergic reactions, make sure you read the label before indulging – especially in a whole block or basket of the stuff. And if you or your family members do experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating chocolate, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergic-reactions-emergency-first-aid">seek medical attention</a> immediately.</p> <h2>4 take home tips</h2> <p>So, if you are like me and have a weakness for chocolate there are a few things you can do to make the experience a good one.<!-- 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/202848/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> <ol> <li>keep an eye out for the darker chocolate varieties with higher cocoa solids. You may notice a percentage on labelling, which refers to how much of its weight is from cocoa beans. In general, the higher this percentage, the lower the sugar. White chocolate has almost no cocoa solid, and mostly cocoa butter, sugar and other ingredients. Dark chocolate has 50–100% cocoa beans, and less sugar. Aim for at least 70% cocoa</li> <li>read the fine print for additives and possible cross-contamination, especially if allergies might be an issue</li> <li>the ingredients list and nutrition information panel should tell you all about the chocolate you choosing. Go for varieties with lower sugar and less saturated fat. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are better ingredients to have in your chocolate than sugar, creme, syrup, and caramel</li> <li>finally, treat yourself – but keep the amount you have within sensible limits!</li> </ol> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Heart Foundation &amp; Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-having-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-great-or-a-bit-sick-plus-4-tips-for-better-eating-202848">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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How long does menopause last? 5 tips for navigating uncertain times

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yvonne-middlewick-1395795">Yvonne Middlewick</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>Around half of the world’s population are women or people who menstruate – yet the way their body works can be a mystery, even to them.</p> <p>Most women will experience periods roughly every month, many will go through childbirth and those who live into midlife will experience menopause.</p> <p>While menopause is a significant time of change, it isn’t talked about much, other than as a punchline. This may contribute to keeping it a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2019/sep/21/breaking-the-menopause-taboo-there-are-vital-stories-we-should-continue-to-pursue">taboo topic</a>.</p> <p>So, what happens during menopause? How do you know when it is happening to you? And – the thing most women want to know – how long will it last?</p> <h2>What is menopause?</h2> <p>Menopause is <a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause">defined</a> as the permanent cessation of menstruation, which is medically determined to be one year after the final menstrual period. After this time women are considered to be postmenopausal.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26598775/">average age</a> of “natural menopause” (that is not caused by a medical condition, treatment or surgery) is considered to be around 51 years.</p> <p>However, natural menopause does not occur suddenly. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Riitta-Luoto/publication/46425690_Prevalence_of_menopause_symptoms_and_their_association_with_lifestyle_among_Finnish_middle-aged_women/links/5c5704ac458515a4c7553c7b/Prevalence-of-menopause-symptoms-and-their-association-with-lifestyle-among-Finnish-middle-aged-women.pdf">Changes can begin</a> a number of years before periods stop and most often occur in a woman’s 40s but they can be earlier. Changes <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25686030/">can continue</a> for 10 years or more after periods have stopped.</p> <p>Using hormones such as the oral contraceptive pill or hormone intrauterine devices may make it more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31934948/">difficult to determine</a> when changes start.</p> <p>Menopause that occurs <a href="https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause#:%7E:text=Menopause%20that%20happens%20before%20age,to%20come%20earlier%20than%20usual.">before 45</a> is called “early menopause”, while menopause before 40 is called “premature menopause”.</p> <h2>What about perimenopause?</h2> <p>Various <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/hp/information-sheets/glossary-of-terms">terms</a> are used to describe this period of change, including “menopause” or “the menopause”, “menopausal transition”, “perimenopause” or “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12188398/">climacteric</a>”.</p> <p>These terms tend to refer to the period before and after the final menstrual period, when changes are considered to be related to menopause.</p> <p>The difficulty with the definition of menopause is it can only be decided retrospectively. Yet women can experience changes many years before their periods stop (a lead up usually called “perimenopause”). Also, any <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/sdfe/pdf/download/eid/1-s2.0-S0889854518300627/first-page-pdf">changes noticed</a> may not be associated with menopause (because people might not be aware of what to expect) or changes may be associated with a combination of factors such as stress, being busy or other health issues.</p> <h2>So, what is going on?</h2> <p>Through a feminist lens, menopause can be seen as a <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354652248_The_volcano_within_a_study_of_women's_lived_experience_of_the_journey_through_natural_menopause">complex and diverse experience</a>, influenced by biological, psychological, social and cultural aspects of women’s lives.</p> <p>However, it is usually viewed from the biomedical perspective. This sees it as a biological event, marked by the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">decline</a> in ovarian hormone levels leading to a reduction in reproductive function.</p> <p>The female reproductive system operates because of a finely tuned balance of hormones managed by the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466056/#:%7E:text=The%20hypothalamic%2Dpituitary%2Dovarian%20(HPO)%20axis%20must%20be,priming%20the%20endometrium%20for%20implantation.">hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis</a>. International <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3340903/">experts</a> have developed a staging system for female reproductive ageing, with seven stages from “early reproductive” years to “late postmenopause”.</p> <p>However, female reproductive hormones do not just affect the reproductive system but <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">other aspects</a> of the body’s function. These include the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26007613/">neurological system</a>, which is linked to hot flushes and night sweats and disrupted sleep. Hormones may also affect the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp20154">heart and body’s blood circulation</a>, bone health and potentially the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302220300418">immune system</a>.</p> <p>Menopausal hormone changes may <a href="https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/menopause-information/menopause-symptoms/">cause</a> hot flushes, night/cold sweats, mood swings, sleep disruption and tiredness, vaginal dryness.</p> <p>Medical confirmation of menopausal changes in women over 45 years is based on two biological indicators: vasomotor symptoms (those hot flushes and night sweats again) and an <a href="https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause#:%7E:text=Menopause%20that%20happens%20before%20age,to%20come%20earlier%20than%20usual.">irregular menstrual cycle</a>.</p> <p>In early perimenopause the changes to the menstrual cycle may be subtle. Women may not recognise early indicators, unless they keep a record and know what to watch for.</p> <h2>How long does it last?</h2> <p>The body demonstrates an amazing ability to change over a lifetime. In a similar way to adolescence where long-lasting changes occur, the outcome of menopause is also change.</p> <p>Research suggests it is difficult to give an exact time frame for how long menopausal changes occur – the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085137/">average</a> is between four and eight years.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085137/">Penn Ovarian Ageing Study</a> found 79% of the 259 participants experienced hot flushes starting before the age of 50, most commonly between 45 and 49 years of age.</p> <p>A later report on the same study found one third of women studied experienced <a href="https://womensmidlifehealthjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40695-016-0014-2">moderate to severe hot flushes</a> more than ten years after their periods had stopped. A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2017/03000/Cultural_issues_in_menopause__an_exploratory.11.aspx">2017 study</a> found a small number of women continued to experience hot flushes and other symptoms into their 70s.</p> <p>So overall, the research cannot offer a specific window for perimenopause, and menopause does not appear to mark the end of changes for everyone.</p> <h2>5 tips for uncertain times</h2> <p>Shifts and changes can be recognised early by developing knowledge, paying attention to changes to our bodies and talking about menopause and perimenopause more openly.</p> <p>Here are five tips for moving from uncertainty to certainty:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> talk to people and find out as much information as you can. The experiences of mothers and sisters may help, for some women there are familial similarities</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> notice any changes to your body and make a note of them, this will help you recognise changes earlier. There are <a href="https://www.redonline.co.uk/wellbeing/a36980118/menopause-apps/">menopause tracking apps</a> available</p> <p><strong>3.</strong> keep a note of your menstrual cycle: start date, duration, flow and note any changes. Again, an app might help</p> <p><strong>4.</strong> if you are worried, seek advice from a GP or nurse that specialises in women’s health. They may suggest ways to help with symptoms or refer to a specialist</p> <p><strong>5.</strong> remember changes are the indicator to pay attention to, not time or your age.</p> <p>Menopause is a natural process and although we have focused here on the time frame and “symptoms”, it can also be a time of freedom (particularly from periods!), reflection and a time to focus on yourself.<!-- 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/195211/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> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lhosPUwWhfI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Women speak about their experiences of menopause.</span></figcaption></figure> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/yvonne-middlewick-1395795">Yvonne Middlewick</a>, Nurse &amp; Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-long-does-menopause-last-5-tips-for-navigating-uncertain-times-195211">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Five tips for developing and managing your budget – even in tough economic times

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo University</a></em></p> <p>There’s nothing quite like a new year to prompt us to take stock of our lives, our health, our goals – and our finances. Many people will start a new year by contemplating how best to budget, plan and save. This is always a good set of aims, but it’s especially important in the inflation-prone and unpredictable economies we’re seeing <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/268225/countries-with-the-highest-inflation-rate/">all over Africa and the world</a>.</p> <p>Budgeting is especially key. It is the most effective method to <a href="https://www.thebalancemoney.com/how-to-make-a-budget-1289587">monitor income and expenditure</a>. <a href="https://www.uslendingcompany.com/blog/key-differences-in-writing-a-household-budget-vs-a-personal-budget/">Personal budgets</a> can help you to monitor your resources in pursuit of larger financial goals. Budgeting also offers <a href="https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/v46/acr_vol46_2411998.pdf">more opportunities</a> to save money, reduce your debts and live a comfortable life. It can even <a href="https://prucomm.ac.uk/assets/uploads/blog/2013/04/Personal-Budgets-review-of-evidence_FINAL-REPORT.pdf">improve your mental health</a>.</p> <p>But where should you start? What questions do you need to answer in creating a budget? Here are some tips that I’ve learned – not just as an economist, but as a research cost analyst and someone who keeps a budget too.</p> <h2>1. Understand the broader economic conditions</h2> <p>It is imperative that individuals keep themselves aware and up-to-date on the realities of their country’s economic landscape. You don’t have to be a professional economist, but keep an eye on new developments like free business registration, small business development funds and printing of new money notes. What is the current exchange rate? What’s the political landscape and what international factors, like the price of crude oil, are at play? You should also watch the inflation rate and have a sense of unemployment trends.</p> <p>This economic awareness will prepare you to draft your own budget and you’ll have a sense of when external factors mean it’s time to revisit your plans.</p> <h2>2. Review your income sources</h2> <p>The ability to earn income is critical to sustaining livelihoods. Having a definite source of income is the bedrock of budgeting.</p> <p>Some important questions you should ask about your income – and how you might budget with it – include:</p> <ul> <li>What is my current income?</li> <li>What do I use my income for?</li> <li>Am I able to save, given my current income?</li> <li>What proportion of my income do I save and what proportion do I spend?</li> <li>Do I have the capacity to earn more than this?</li> <li>How can I improve my income?</li> </ul> <p>Your answers can help you to identify gaps or untapped potential. Those with irregular or unpredictable income should factor in the element of time-gap in their income, for effective budgeting. Time gap is when they are not earning income. And everyone should make allowance in their budgets for uncertainties like health issues, social engagements, inflation, unemployment, recession and price shocks.</p> <h2>3. Appraise your expenses</h2> <p>Expenses can be broadly categorised into “variable” and “fixed”.</p> <p>Fixed expenses recur within a short period: housing, food, transport, medical costs, electricity, utilities, toiletries and clothing. Variable expenses are more long-term and irregular, such as investment in property or interest-yielding assets, and the purchase of machinery.</p> <p>The main essence of revising our expenses is to analyse and possibly improve our spending habits. In reviewing our expenses, we can consider issues such as:</p> <ul> <li>What is the proportion of consumption-savings ratio from my income? This is how much do I spend compared to how much I save.</li> <li>What are my regular expenses?</li> <li>What are my fixed, capital or investment expenses?</li> <li>What are my extraordinary expenses that need modification?</li> <li>Have there been emergency or extraordinary expenses?</li> </ul> <p>A careful response to the issues raised above offers an occasion to re-evaluate the pattern and direction of our expenses. For instance, overspending, unplanned or extraordinary expenses can be identified. This can lead to an optimal, efficient reallocation of available resources.</p> <h2>4. Stabilise your finances through savings</h2> <p>Savings have been <a href="https://klinglercpa.com/bedrock-principles-for-saving-money/">described</a> as a financial stabiliser, given their potential to cater for urgent needs and create opportunities for investments.</p> <p>Of course, savings have more value when they grow faster than the rate of inflation. Inflation erodes the value of savings. For instance, an amount of 300,000 naira (US$676) saved to purchase an autorickshaw today may be impossible in two months’ time with an inflation rate of 10% when the tricycle price rises to 330,000 naira (US$744). The reverse is the case when there is deflation.</p> <p>Therefore, it is advisable to improve the value of savings through investments in interest-yielding assets such as stocks, shares, bonds, microfinance and production.</p> <p>That’s not to say it’s always easy to save. Many income earners spend as they go, not seeing savings as part of their budgets. Harsh economic realities can also make it difficult – sometimes seemingly impossible – to save. But it’s not impossible: savings can be made in small amounts, through a daily, weekly or monthly contribution to collections, cooperative schemes or microfinance affiliations. For instance, a point of sale business in Nigeria can permit a daily contribution of 500 naira (US$1.13) over 25 work days, giving an average saving of 12,500 naira (US$28.18) per month.</p> <p>The Point-of-Sale business started in Nigeria in 2013 when the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the agent banking system. A POS agent operates and processes transactions through a POS service provider. Providers of such services include banks, microfinance banks and fintech companies.</p> <h2>5. Run a flexible budget</h2> <p>Once your budget is created, remember that it’s not set in stone. It should be flexible if anything changes in your life. For instance, an amount saved to buy a car can be invested in a promising venture buying shares through public offerings or private placements in multinational organisations like Nestle or Unilever.</p> <p>Also, health emergencies or career advancement programmes can require taking some money out of our savings.</p> <p>In all, budgeting should be flexible enough to incorporate exigencies, especially when catering for the current situation will culminate into a greater good.<!-- 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/195590/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/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, Lecturer/Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-tips-for-developing-and-managing-your-budget-even-in-tough-economic-times-195590">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Top tips for happy and healthy eyes this Autumn

<p dir="ltr">As the season changes, so do our healthcare needs as many people struggle with irritating allergies. </p> <p dir="ltr">With cooler temperatures, dry air and an increase in pollen often being synonymous with autumn and spring, for many people, leaving the house means having irritated eyes. </p> <p dir="ltr">Luckily, leading Ophthalmologist, Dr. Jacqueline Beltz has shared her essential tips for eye care during autumn with OverSixty, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the change of seasons without jeopardising your vision. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. Keep your sunglasses handy</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While the sun is usually not as intense in autumn as it is during summer, Dr Beltz says that using sunglasses can benefit your eyes in many ways. </p> <p dir="ltr">“ Not only do they shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, but they also guard against wind and debris,” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Increase your lubricant eye drops</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Dr Beltz said, “The drop in temperature and the dryer air can contribute to discomfort and dryness in your eyes, so consider increasing the use of lubricant eye drops to keep your eyes moist and comfortable.”</p> <p dir="ltr">By keeping up your eye drops in autumn, you can prevent further damage to your eyes in the long run. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Clean your eyelashes daily</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">According to Dr Beltz, keeping up with good health and hygiene along the eyelid margins is essential, especially during the autumn months. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Cleanse your lashes daily and use a warm compress to optimise the quality of your tear film. This helps in preventing irritation and supports overall eye health.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Consider a humidifier</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">To ensure a more comfortable environment for your eyes, Dr Beltz recommends adding moisture to the air can help alleviate dry eyes.</p> <p dir="ltr">She said, “Combat the dry indoor air by using a humidifier in your room, especially while you sleep.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Be proactive with allergies</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">If you are prone to allergies, Dr Beltz said it's best to always be prepared ahead of time. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Autumn allergies are a reality, with triggers like pollen, mould, and dust prevalent during this season,” she said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“If you experience red, itchy, or swollen eyes, consider antihistamine eye drops. Keep your hands clean and avoid rubbing your eyes.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>6. Revitalise your eye makeup</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While replacing your eye makeup is important all year around, the addition of allergens makes it even more important to Change mascara and non-cleanable products like liquid eyeliner at least every three months. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Especially if you have sensitive eyes, makeup products can harbour bacteria, leading to increased eye irritation.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Refreshing your eye makeup products to options that are designed to be better suited for dry eyes or eye sensitivity.”</p> <p dir="ltr">If you are <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/beauty-style/embracing-the-art-of-beauty-without-compromise">prone to sensitive eyes</a>, consider trying the OKKIYO <a href="https://www.okkiyo.com/products/protect-and-preserve-mascara#xd_co_f=NzdiNzdlNTctNTA1MS00NTBkLWE1MGEtNjRkMGE2OTI1N2Vj~">Prioriteyes Mascara</a>, which was developed by Dr Beltz to prioritise both style and eye health.</p> <p dir="ltr">While these tips for eye health can seem simple and seemingly unimportant, Dr Beltz assures that by following these tips, you will make a world of difference for your eye health overall. </p> <p dir="ltr">She said, “Implementing these simple tips can make a significant difference in keeping your eyes comfortable and vibrant throughout the season.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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14 personal finance tips you were never taught – but need to know

<p><strong>Take a day to think about large purchases to avoid impulse buys</strong></p> <p>“Delaying your purchases for a day gives you time to think about whether or not you really need the items, and it curbs regrettable impulse buys,” advises Marc Diana, CEO of MoneyTips.</p> <p>“Sale items may be an exception to this rule, but even then, question how badly you need the item compared to saving or investing the money you would use to purchase it. When times are tough, and you’re cutting expenses, would you rather have a rarely worn $300 pair of shoes or $300 cash?”</p> <p><strong>Budgets are freeing, not constricting</strong></p> <p>Says financial educator Tiffany Aliche, “Keeping a budget allows you to say yes to your goals in a strategic way. If you have a budget, you can save for the holiday, house or car you want to get. You can look at it as ‘No dining out,’ but I see it as ‘Yes to a trip to Paris.’ A budget is not a NO plan, but a YES plan with actual steps towards achieving your goals.”</p> <p><strong>Budget with the 50/20/30 rule</strong></p> <p>Lynn Toomey, co-founder of Your Retirement Advisor, suggests following this easy budgeting rule:</p> <p>Use 50 per cent of your income for non-discretionary necessities like food, rent/house payment, utilities, and transportation.</p> <p>Put aside 20 per cent of your income for an emergency fund (three to six months’ salary is a good target), retirement, savings, and to pay off any debts.</p> <p>Use 30 per cent of your income for discretionary (non-essential) spending such as entertainment, holidays and gifts.</p> <p><strong>Penny-pinching is not the road to wealth</strong></p> <p>Spending less doesn’t mean you’ll have more. Saving is a good way to stabilise your finances, but you still need to invest. “Pretend there are two islands,” advises Aliche, who is also known as The Budgetnista: “Financially Stuck Island and Wealthy Island.”</p> <p>She says that your savings can be like a car – you can’t drive off Financially Stuck Island without a bridge. Investing is the bridge to financial success. “To get from one island to another, you need to get in your savings car and drive it over your investment bridge.”</p> <p><strong>It’s OK to put yourself before your kids</strong></p> <p>Many people want their kids to go to university, says Aliche, “but it’s more important for you to save enough for retirement. Because the best gift you can give your child is not a free ride to school, but rather not to be a financial burden on them when it’s time to start their own family. Kids can get student loans; no one is going to lend you money without collateral when you’re retired.”</p> <p><strong>Financial advisors aren’t only for wealthy people</strong></p> <p>Millions of people have trillions invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other stock exchange investments, but just because you can easily make trades yourself doesn’t mean you should. “Why not do what you do best to earn money and let a trained professional invest it for you?” asks Brian Saranovitz, president of Your Retirement Advisor. “A recent Vanguard Investments study indicated that integrating proper retirement strategies can add as much as 3 per cent efficient return to a retirement portfolio.”</p> <p>Adds Aliche, “You need to purposefully seek out knowledge. If you break a leg, you know that you need to go to a doctor. With personal finance, people have got the notion that they could just fix it themselves. When it comes to investing, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.”</p> <p><strong>Get a clear picture of yourself at 80</strong></p> <p>Barring tragedy, you will live to a ripe, old age. Aliche recommends naming your 80-year-old image of yourself. “Mine is Wanda. I imagine Wanda sitting on the front steps in her yard. People feel disconnected from their older self. The more you can picture her, the better. I don’t want to see her mopping floors at 80. When I’m making a decision, I think, ‘How will this affect Wanda?’ If I dip into my retirement funds to buy an expensive car, that’s going to hurt Wanda.”</p> <p>If it’s easier, pretend you’re living with your grandfather or grandmother. “You’re not going to tell Granny, ‘You have to go to work. We need the money,’” she says.</p> <p><strong>You can never have too much retirement savings</strong></p> <p>Says Lynn Toomey, co-founder of Your Retirement Advisor, “Life is good. Retirement is better, if you are prepared.” She points out that retirement is laden with potential costs, such as healthcare, longevity, market volatility and inflation.</p> <p>“Even if you think you’re saving enough and have assets, it still may not be enough. The earlier you start saving and investing, the longer compound interest can work its magic to help you achieve a successful retirement.”</p> <p><strong>Don’t blow your tax refund</strong></p> <p>“What are you planning on doing with your tax refund?” asks financial advisor Mike Zaino. “If you’re like most people, the world of instant gratification is beckoning. It could be extremely damaging to your retirement account, however, especially given the time value of money and what Albert Einstein called ‘The eighth wonder of the world” – compound interest.”</p> <p><strong>Ask current lenders for a better rate</strong></p> <p>“Banks, credit unions and other lenders are keenly aware of their competition,” says Diana of MoneyTips.com. “If your credit score qualifies you for a better rate from another credit card issuer or lender, ask them to match the rate. There’s no downside to asking; the worst they could do is refuse.”</p> <p><strong>Asking for your credit limit to be raised can improve your credit score</strong></p> <p>Keep your credit utilisation – the amount of credit you use compared to your credit limit – low to boost your all-important credit, advises Diana. “You can borrow less, or you can ask for a raise in your credit limit.”</p> <p>A recent study from CreditCards.com found that only 28 per cent of respondents have never asked for an increase in their credit limit. However, a whopping 89 per cent of those who asked for a credit limit increase received one.</p> <p><strong>Unless they have a high annual fee, don’t close your old credit cards</strong></p> <p>“The longer your stable credit history, the better it reflects on your credit score,” explains Diana. “The age of accounts is averaged over all of your credit accounts, so closing an older account that is infrequently used actually harms your credit score in two ways: it lowers your credit limit, which raises your credit utilisation; and it lowers your average account age. If you have an old card with a decent credit limit, use it at least annually to keep it open. But don’t forget to pay the bill on time!”</p> <p><strong>Don’t ever co-sign a loan</strong></p> <p>“Co-signing a loan isn’t just vouching for someone’s character,” explains Toomey. “Understand that if the borrower doesn’t pay, then you’re responsible for every single missed payment. If they don’t pay, it’s your credit that will be ruined.”</p> <p><strong>Being debt-free should not be your goal</strong></p> <p>Says Aliche, creator of the Live Richer Challenge, “People focus on getting out of debt. If they use that money to grow wealth instead of getting rid of debt, they could be debt-free faster. Do you pay off your student loans to get debt-free, or invest money in your business to grow and secure wealth for yourself? If you focus on being debt-free, that’s all you’ll be. If you focus on building wealth, then you can be wealthy and debt-free.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/14-personal-finance-tips-you-were-never-taught-but-need-to-know?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Money & Banking

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5 ultimate tips before you schedule heating and cooling maintenance in Adelaide

<p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">In Adelaide's climate, a reliable heating and cooling system isn't just a luxury – it's a must-have! Beyond comfort, maintaining these lifesavers at peak efficiency helps you tackle the temperature swings. But how do you ensure they're up to snuff year-round?</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Walk about our </span><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.metropolitanheatingandcooling.com.au/blog/how-often-should-i-schedule-heating-and-cooling-maintenance/"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #1155cc; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Maintenance and Routine Services Guide</span></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. They'll arm you with everything from understanding your unique system, spotting trouble early on, the cleaning nitty-gritty, right to zeroing in on the best time for that crucial maintenance in Adelaide.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Now, let’s dive into these handy pointers and get you sorted, shall we?</span></p> <h2 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">What You Need to Remember</span></h2> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/HeatingCooling02.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Aside from air conditioner repairs and ducted gas heating repairs, diligently scheduling heating and cooling maintenance in Adelaide is just as important. Whether it's your first time scheduling one or you've done this before, these five tips can surely help you.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tip #1: Understand Your Air Conditioning System</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The kind of air conditioning unit you have can make a big difference to your maintenance schedule. Could be split systems, ducted gas heating systems, or the lot. Most Adelaide homes use evaporative coolers, and servicing these units is quite a different ball game compared to reverse-cycle systems.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tip #2: Recognise Signs of Trouble</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Today's air conditioning units are excellent at giving you a heads-up about an upcoming hassle. If it's not putting out enough cool air, or it's not running as it should, it might be time to call someone for those heating and cooling repairs. Nipping these problems in the bud is what you should be aiming for.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tip #3: Regular Cleaning and Air Filter Changes</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Keeping your air conditioners' filters clean and changing them regularly is a clever way to keep your air conditioning service in tip-top shape. The air filters, in particular, play a big role in this. Blocked air filters can lead to poor airflow and overworking of the system, which bumps your running costs up the wall.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">However, don't stop at just swapping out the generic filters. Give the other components like the coils and fins in your air conditioner system a good clean as well.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tip #4: Regular Cooling and Heating System Checks</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Keeping up with regular air conditioning repair services makes sure your system is always raring to go. Your system needs to be a ripper, ready to go the minute you need it. Maintenance involves cleaning and checking big brands like Mitsubishi Electric, making sure any faults are out of the picture.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tip #5: Knuckling Down the Right Time for Check-up</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The best time to schedule air conditioning services or ducted gas, heating, and cooling systems repairs is before peak use - early autumn for heating systems and early spring for your cooling systems. This way, you're sorted with a climate-controlled environment just when you need it.</span></p> <h2 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The Importance of Scheduling Heating and Cooling Maintenance</span></h2> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/HeatingCooling03.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">We have our busy days, and there are times when scheduling maintenance for our heating and cooling unit is the last thing on our list. However, there are plenty of reasons why sticking to heating and cooling maintenance like glue is so important:</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It Keeps Your Systems Efficient</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Routine maintenance keeps your system running efficiently. A well-maintained unit uses less energy to run and is therefore less likely to punch a hole in your wallet when the energy bill shows up.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It Helps Prevent Breakdowns</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Regular maintenance can spot potential problems and get them sorted before you're left stuck without climate control on a stinking hot day or a freezing cold night. It's a lot cheaper and less hassle to prevent problems than to fix them once they've happened.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It Prolongs the Life of Your Unit</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Frequent maintenance can extend the lifespan of your heating and cooling system. Like a meticulously serviced engine, it promises to function efficiently for a long haul.</span></p> <h3 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 14pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It Keeps You in Warranty</span></h3> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A lot of manufacturers require regular maintenance to keep the warranty valid. You'd want to avoid voiding your warranty for lack of looking after your investment well.</span></p> <h2 dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 18pt; margin-bottom: 4pt;"><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Choosing the Right Professionals</span></h2> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/HeatingCooling04.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When it comes to air conditioning installation, repairs, and maintenance, make sure you're seeking out the right professionals. Some folks might be game for a bash at DIY, but trust us, most air conditioning repairs need the know-how of a trained pro.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Whether it's regular </span><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.metropolitanheatingandcooling.com.au/locations/sa/heating-cooling-adelaide/"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #1155cc; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">heating and cooling installation in Adelaide</span></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, system updates, or tweaks for maximum efficiency, the role of the professionals is crucial. They ensure vital parts, such as your air conditioning unit, are installed well, functioning properly, and maintained to provide <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/retirement-life/5-reasons-to-check-on-your-elderly-neighbour-during-a-heatwave" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cool air in summers</a> and warm air in winters. That's precisely why heating and cooling installations in Adelaide should only be carried out by seasoned pros.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">In Adelaide, you're in luck with professional, reliable air conditioning services. Keep an eye out for fully trained and licensed heating and cooling technicians who are accredited to work on big brands.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Look after your system well, and you'll be cool in the summer and cosy in the winter. Keep cool, Adelaide!</span></p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-f55474ea-7fff-8d26-6743-0e1ae38713e8">Images: Supplied.</span></em></p> <p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-f55474ea-7fff-8d26-6743-0e1ae38713e8">This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Metropolitan Heating and Cooling.</span></em></p>

Home & Garden

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Hydronic heating maintenance: Tips for a cosy winter

<p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Hydronic heating systems, often called radiant heating, utilise a closed-loop system to circulate hot water through pipes, providing efficient warmth to spaces. This blog post will delve into the </span><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://airconrepairnearme.com.au/blog/is-hydronic-heating-sustainable/#:~:text=Advantages%20of%20Hydronic%20Heating"><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #1155cc; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">advantages of hydronic heating</span></a><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and the </span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">significance of regular maintenance for these systems, ensuring optimal performance during the chilly winter months. Let's explore critical aspects that contribute to a cosy and well-maintained hydronic heating system.</span><strong id="docs-internal-guid-43a50dd5-7fff-83c3-b866-681029940351" style="font-weight: normal;"></strong></p> <p><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Why Hydronic Heating Maintenance Matters</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Maintaining your hydronic heating system is not just about comfort; it's a practical step towards energy efficiency and cost savings. A well-maintained winter heating system operates more efficiently, requiring less energy to achieve the desired temperature. It reduces utility bills, <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/property/home-hints-tips/9-cost-effective-ways-to-warm-your-home-this-winter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">giving you a cosy home</a> without breaking the bank.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Extended Lifespan of the System</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Regular maintenance is like an investment in the longevity of your hydronic heating system. Simple tasks, such as cleaning and inspecting, can prevent wear and tear, ensuring your system lasts for years without significant issues. This foresight can save you from the inconvenience and expense of premature system replacement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Improved Heating Performance</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A well-maintained system translates to consistent and energy-efficient heating. By addressing potential issues early on, you ensure each room receives the warmth it needs, avoiding cold spots and discomfort. It enhances your overall living experience and contributes to a healthier and more enjoyable home environment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Enhanced Safety Features</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Safety should always be a top priority for home heating systems. Regular maintenance checks help identify and address potential safety hazards. From leaks to faulty components, addressing these issues promptly ensures your family's and property's safety, providing peace of mind throughout winter.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Seasonal Maintenance Checklist</span></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/HydronicHeating02.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Fall Preparation</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">As the temperatures drop and the leaves begin to fall, it's time to prepare your hydronic heating system for the colder months ahead.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Checking and Cleaning Radiators or Baseboards:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Start by inspecting each radiator or baseboard for dust or debris. Clean them thoroughly to ensure unobstructed heat distribution. This simple task can significantly enhance the efficiency of your system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Inspecting the Boiler for Any Issues:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Give your boiler a once-over, checking for any signs of wear, corrosion, or leaks. Addressing minor issues now can prevent major breakdowns later.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Testing Thermostat Functionality:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Test your thermostat by adjusting the temperature settings. Ensure that it responds promptly and accurately. It may be time for a thermostat replacement or recalibration if you notice any discrepancies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Bleeding Air from the System:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Bleeding air from the system is crucial to maintaining optimal water flow. Follow these steps:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Turn off the heating system.</span></p> <ul style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0; padding-inline-start: 48px;"> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Use a radiator key to open the bleed valve.</span></li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Allow warm air to escape until the water starts dripping.</span></li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Close the valve tightly.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This process prevents hot air from pockets that can impede water circulation, ensuring efficient heating throughout your home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Winter Best Practices</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Monitoring Water Levels:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Check the water level in your hydronic heating system regularly, especially during winter. Low water levels can cause the system to overheat or shut down. Consult your hydronic system's manual for specific instructions on maintaining water levels.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Adjusting Thermostat Settings for Efficiency:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Optimise your thermostat settings based on your daily routine. Lowering the temperature when you're away or sleeping can yield substantial energy savings without sacrificing comfort.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Regularly Checking for Leaks:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Inspect your system for leaks, paying attention to connections, valves, and the boiler. Addressing leaks promptly prevents water damage and ensures the continued efficiency of your system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Troubleshooting Common Heating Issues:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Proactively troubleshoot common heating issues, such as uneven heating or unusual noises. Understanding your system's behaviour helps you address problems early, preventing extensive damage and costly repairs.</span></p> <p><strong style="font-weight: normal;"> </strong><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tips for Hydronic Heating Maintenance by Professionals</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Maintaining a hydronic heating system is crucial for optimal performance and longevity. Here are some tips for hydronic heating maintenance by professionals:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Regular Inspections:</span></p> <ul style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0; padding-inline-start: 48px;"> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Schedule regular inspections by qualified technicians to assess the system's overall condition.</span></li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Check for leaks, corrosion, or damage to pipes, valves, and components.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Pressure Check:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Monitor and adjust system pressure as needed. Low or high pressure can affect the heat pump's efficiency in the hydronic heating system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Flush the System:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Periodically flush the system to remove any accumulated sediment or debris hindering the system's efficiency.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Bleed Radiators:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I bled the air filters from the radiators to ensure they heated evenly. Trapped air can cause cold spots and reduce the system's effectiveness.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Inspect Pumps and Motors:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Check pumps and motors for proper operation. Lubricate components as necessary and replace any worn-out parts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Boiler Maintenance:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Service the boiler regularly to ensure it operates efficiently. Clean the burners, heat exchanger, and flue to prevent efficiency loss.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Thermostat Calibration:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Calibrate and test thermostats to ensure accurate and consistent temperature control. Replace batteries if applicable.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Check Expansion Tank:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Inspect and maintain the expansion tank to accommodate water volume changes and prevent damage to the piping system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Test Safety Controls:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Test safety controls, such as pressure relief valves and high-limit switches, to ensure they function correctly in emergencies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Water Quality Maintenance:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Monitor water and air quality in the system and treat it with inhibitors to prevent corrosion and scale buildup.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Evaluate Insulation:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Check the insulation on pipes and components to minimise heat loss and improve heating performance and the system's overall efficiency.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Update Controls and Sensors:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Consider upgrading control systems and sensors to the latest technology for better energy efficiency and system management.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Documentation:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Keep comprehensive records of maintenance activities, inspections, and any repairs performed on the hydronic heating system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13.999999999999998pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #434343; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Training for Staff:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Provide training for facility staff on basic maintenance tasks and early detection of potential issues.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Regular professional maintenance ensures the hydronic heating system operates efficiently, reduces energy consumption, and extends lifespan. Always consult with qualified HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system professionals for specific maintenance requirements based on the type and complexity of the hydronic heating system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Professional Maintenance Services</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/HydronicHeating03.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When to Call a Professional for Maintenance</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">While homeowners can perform some maintenance tasks, there are instances when professional assistance is necessary.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Benefits of Professional Inspections:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Professional technicians have the expertise to identify and address issues that may go unnoticed. Regular professional inspections can extend the life of your system and ensure its continued reliability.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Finding a Qualified Hydronic Heating Technician:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When seeking professional services, look for technicians with experience in hydronic heating systems. Check reviews, ask for recommendations, and verify their certifications to ensure that you entrust your design to capable hands.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When to Seek Professional Help:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If your energy bills remain high despite your efforts, involving a professional is essential. They can conduct a thorough assessment to identify and address underlying issues affecting your system's efficiency.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Winter Energy Saving Tips</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Setting Optimal Thermostat Temperatures</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Guidelines:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature when at home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Lower the temperature when sleeping or away, aiming for energy savings reduced efficiency.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Consider investing in a programmable thermostat for automated temperature adjustments.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Benefits:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Optimising thermostat settings ensures comfort and contributes to significant energy savings over the winter months.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Proper Insulation for Energy Efficiency</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Areas to Insulate:</span></p> <ul style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0; padding-inline-start: 48px;"> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Walls and ceilings.</span></li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Attic and basement spaces.</span></li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Doors and windows.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Benefits:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Proper insulation prevents heat loss and leaking of warm air, reducing the workload on your hydronic heating system. It translates to lower energy consumption and improved efficiency.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Utilising Programmable Thermostats</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Advantages:</span></p> <ul style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0; padding-inline-start: 48px;"> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Automated temperature adjustments based on your schedule.</span></li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Energy savings by reducing the heating costs when not needed.</span></li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Remote access for constant temperature control, even when away from home.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Installation Tips:</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, or consult a professional if needed. Programmable thermostats offer a convenient way to optimise heating and energy usage.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 17pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Keep Your Place Cosy</span></p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2023/12/HydronicHeating04.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">In conclusion, maintaining your hydronic heating system is essential for a cosy and worry-free winter. By following the seasonal maintenance checklist and knowing when to seek professional help like</span><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="https://airconrepairnearme.com.au/"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #1155cc; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #1155cc; background-color: transparent; font-weight: bold; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: underline; -webkit-text-decoration-skip: none; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">airconrepairnearme.com.au</span></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, you can ensure the efficient operation of your system. Troubleshooting common issues and adopting winter energy-saving tips further contribute to a warm and inviting home. Embrace these practices, and may your winter be filled with comfort, warmth, and the joy of a well-maintained hydronic heating system. Stay cosy!</span></p> <p><em>Images: Supplied.</em></p> <p><em>This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Air Con Repair Near Me.</em></p>

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