1 January 2024

Summer $avings: Keep your cool without breaking the bank

| Zoe Cartwright
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You don’t have to take up ice sculpting to beat the heat this summer. Photo: Region Illawarra.

It can be tough to keep your cool over summer – holiday traffic everywhere, rambunctious kids rampaging through the house, and the cost of the Christmas season.

We’ve found some ways to make keeping cool, while you lose your temper, a little easier on the hip pocket.

Here are our top tips for summer savings when you’re trying to beat the heat.

READ ALSO Summer $avings: dress to impress without blowing the budget

Get out of the house

There are plenty of spots that offer free entertainment – and someone else pays for the aircon.

First, you might want to dust off your library card. Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama all boast beautiful libraries where you can do more than just read a book and enjoy being out of the heat.

Wollongong City Libraries acting coordinator of service quality and development Lindsay Carapella said they welcome visitors looking for a cool spot to hang out.

“Gone are the days of the shushing librarian,” Lindsay said.

“We’re making sure our spaces are comfortable, and we encourage the community to visit and take some refuge from some of the crazy weather that we have, or to come and read a newspaper or to join a club.”

If your kids are a bit too cool to come to the library with mum and dad, youth and community centres might be more their style.

Blackbutt Youth Centre, Albion Park Youth Centre, Sentral Kiama, Wollongong Youth Centre, Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre and Warrawong Community Centre all host activities for teens – check your local council website for details.

If you can avoid the temptation to indulge in a bit of retail therapy, shopping centres can also offer some respite from the heat.

Wollongong Central, Figtree Grove, Dapto Mall and Stockland Shellharbour all boast free playgrounds and aircon.

Get outdoors

Catching the sun is the last thing you want to do when it’s stinking hot – but our region offers some beautiful spots where you can enjoy the great outdoors while cooling off.

Rock pools are a great spot for a refreshing dip when it’s too choppy for an ocean swim, or if you have little ones. Check out our guide to the Illawarra’s rock pools for some inspiration.

If rockpools aren’t your style, the pools at Jamberoo, Berkeley, Helensburgh, Unanderra, Thirroul, Port Kembla and the Wollongong Continental pool all offer free entry. For more information about pools near you, head to your local council’s website.

For the more adventurous, there are plenty of local bushwalks that will take you to a bracing swimming hole.

Cascades, at the base of the Macquarie Pass and at the edge of the National Park, is a delightful family-friendly walk to a cascading waterfall.

Kellys Falls can be found in Stanwell Tops, just a short drive from Wollongong, with a walk down to the falls beginning at the car park.

If you’re keen to make a day of it, adventure out to Kangaroo Valley, where Nellie’s Glen and the famous Blue Pool both offer swimming under shady trees.

READ ALSO Summer $avings: Turn your Christmas spending upside down and save on gifts and decorating

Household tips

If you just can’t be stuffed leaving the house – and who can blame you when it’s this hot – University of Wollongong energy expert Ty Christopher has some tips for reducing the energy bill.

“You’ve probably heard it before, but for every degree you put the aircon up, you generally save ten per cent on your energy bill,” he said.

“Try to keep it between 23 and 26 degrees.

“If you know it’s going to be a hot one, keep the house and blinds shut so the cool night air stays in your home longer, and start the aircon when the morning heat begins to build. It’s going to be cheaper than letting the house get to 40 degrees, and then trying to bring it down.

“We all remember to block up the draughts in winter, but it’s important in summer too. Keep the house as tightly sealed as possible.”

Ty said another way to save money while keeping the house cool is to get out of your own way.

Replace incandescent bulbs with LED ones, and fire up the BBQ rather than the oven.

“Incandescent bulbs are used to incubate baby chick for a reason,” he said.

“They give out a lot of heat – and that’s more work for your air conditioner.”

If you don’t have aircon, a large bowl of ice in front of a mechanical fan can work wonders, especially in the kids’ bedrooms at night.

If you have reversible ceiling fans, make sure they’re blowing air down, not sucking it up.

If all else fails?

“Whack a cold, wet flannel on your neck,” Ty said.

“It’s an oldie – but a goodie.”

Plus, it won’t break the bank.

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