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Check Your Plan With Powerswitch

The first step is to make sure you're on the best possible power plan. Head over to the Powerswitch website, a free and independent service that compares thousands of power plans in New Zealand. By answering a few simple questions about your household's energy use, Powerswitch can show you plans that might be a better fit for your needs. Keep in mind that some plans may require specific conditions, like having a smart meter installed or committing to a longer contract. There might also be online payment requirements or upfront costs. Even if you find the perfect plan this time, power prices fluctuate, so it's a good idea to check Powerswitch at least once a year to ensure you're not overpaying.

Set Your Heat Pump

Set Your Heat Pump

Heat pumps, when used efficiently, can significantly impact your power bill. The ideal temperature range for a heat pump is between 19 and 21 degrees Celsius. Locate the controller and switch it to "heat mode" (usually indicated by a sun icon). From there, adjust the temperature to your comfort level within this recommended range. Higher temperatures will not only make the heat pump work harder but also lead to unnecessary expenses.

Turn Off Appliances

Many appliances continue to draw power even when they're switched off. This "phantom power" can drain your wallet over time. Getting into the habit of switching appliances off at the wall when not in use can save you up to $100 a year. Appliances with standby lights are often the biggest culprits, so be sure to turn off your TV, computer, speakers, and game consoles completely.

Shorten Your Showers

Shorten Your Showers

Long, hot showers feel great, but they can also be expensive. A typical 15-minute shower costs around $1. Considering the number of showers taken in your household each day, that cost can add up quickly. By shortening your showers to just 5 minutes, you could save a significant amount. A 5-minute shower translates to a 66-cent saving, which could mean an average of $5 per person per week or a whopping $260 per person per year!

Change Your Washing Machine Settings

Washing Machine Settings

Most washing machines offer a variety of temperature settings. While a hot wash might seem tempting, a cold wash is just as effective for most loads and significantly cheaper to run. A warm wash typically costs around 30 cents, whereas a cold wash comes in at a mere 6 cents. If your family does four loads of laundry a week, switching to cold washes could save you around $50 a year.

Power Heavy Appliances

While switching off appliances and using cold water washes are effective strategies, there are other power-hungry culprits to consider. Cooking a large meal in the oven can cost around $1, whereas a slow cooker uses just 35 cents of electricity to cook the same meal. Similarly, a regular clothes dryer costs about $1 per load. Take advantage of sunny days, and whenever possible, dry your clothes outside for free.

A warm towel after a shower is luxurious, but leaving your heated towel rail on all the time can be a budget buster. Leaving a heated towel rail on can cost you around $3 per week, translating to a yearly expense of roughly $140.

By implementing these simple hacks, you can significantly reduce your power consumption and save money on your power bill. Remember, every little bit counts!

Here are a few ways to keep your home cosy without breaking the bank:

Thermal Curtains

Thermal Curtains

These specially designed curtains act as an extra layer of insulation, trapping heat inside your home and preventing drafts from chilling the space. For maximum effectiveness, opt for thick, heavyweight fabrics with a thermal lining. 

Cheap hack: Fleece sheets hung on the backs of your curtains provide the same result!

Draught Stoppers

Draught Stopper

Don't underestimate the power of a good draught stopper!  These handy tools come in various forms, from fabric rolls to under-door seals, and they effectively block unwanted drafts sneaking in through gaps around doors and windows.

Cheap hack: No need to go out and buy special draught stoppers; rolled up towels work just fine.

Window Insulation

While replacing windows can be a significant investment, there are temporary solutions that can improve insulation during winter. Consider applying window insulation film to existing windows. This creates an additional air barrier, reducing heat loss and keeping your home warmer.

Cheap hack: Try the bubble wrap trick! 

Floor Rugs

Cold floors are an unwelcome surprise in winter. Invest in cosy area rugs for frequently used areas like living rooms and bedrooms. Not only do they add a touch of comfort and style, but rugs also provide insulation by adding an extra layer between your feet and the cold floor.

Natural Fibre Blankets

natural blankets

When it comes to creating a cosy atmosphere, there's nothing quite like snuggling up with a warm blanket. Go for natural fibres like wool or cashmere, which are known for their warmth and breathability. These blankets not only trap heat but also allow your skin to breathe, preventing overheating and sweating.

Electric Blankets

Electric Blanket

For an extra boost of warmth, consider an electric blanket. These provide targeted heating, allowing you to warm up specific areas like your bed or sofa without having to heat the entire room. This can be a great energy-saving option, costing as little as $10 over winter if used every night.

Additionally, they can create a visually cluttered look that shrinks a room's perceived size. Removing your popcorn ceiling is a great renovation project if you're looking to modernise your space.

This guide will walk you through the process of popcorn ceiling removal, from understanding the benefits to tackling the removal itself.  We'll also discuss when it's best to call in a professional.

Why Remove Popcorn Ceilings?

preparing for popcorn ceiling removal

Potential Health Concerns:

Popcorn ceilings applied before the 1980s may contain asbestos, a hazardous material that can cause serious health problems if inhaled. Testing for asbestos is crucial before starting any removal work.

Improved Aesthetics:

Popcorn ceilings can make a room feel dated and visually busy. Removing them creates a clean, modern look that opens up the space and allows for a more contemporary design aesthetic.

Easier Cleaning:

Popcorn ceilings' textured surface traps dust and cobwebs, making them a nightmare to clean. A smooth ceiling is much easier to maintain and keeps your living space feeling fresh.

Increased Lighting Efficiency:

Popcorn ceilings can absorb light, making a room feel darker. Removing them allows for better light reflection, which can brighten your space and potentially reduce your lighting needs.

Preparing for Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Before you grab your scraper and get to work, some crucial preparation steps are necessary for a safe and successful removal process. If your home was built before the 1980s, it's crucial to test your popcorn ceiling for asbestos content.  Asbestos removal requires specialised techniques and should only be handled by licensed professionals. DIY removal is not recommended if asbestos is present.

Safety First:

Popcorn ceiling removal can generate a lot of dust, so proper protection is essential. Wear a respirator with an appropriate P rating to filter out harmful particles. Safety glasses, gloves, and protective clothing are also recommended.

Protecting Your Workspace:

Minimise dust spreading throughout your home by sealing doorways and vents with plastic sheeting. Cover furniture and flooring with drop cloths for easy cleanup.

Gathering the Right Tools:

You'll need a few essential tools for the job, including a wide scraper with an extension handle, a sprayer bottle, a putty knife for detailed work, sanding tools, and plastic bags for debris disposal.

Removal using wet vs dry scraping methods

There are two main methods for removing popcorn texture - wet scraping and dry scraping.

Wet Scraping:

This is the preferred method for most popcorn ceilings.  A light misting with warm water helps soften the texture, making it easier to scrape off without generating excessive dust. Spray a small section of the ceiling at a time and allow it to soak for 15-20 minutes before scraping. Work in manageable sections, and be careful not to over-wet the ceiling, which can damage the drywall underneath.

Dry Scraping:

This method can be effective for unpainted popcorn ceilings with minimal texture.  However, it's generally more labour-intensive and creates a lot of dust. Dry scraping is only recommended for small areas or if wet scraping is not possible.

Regardless of the scraping method chosen, work carefully and avoid gouging the drywall beneath the popcorn texture.

When to hire a professional

why remove popcorn ceiling

While popcorn ceiling removal can be a DIY project, there are situations where hiring a professional is the best course of action:

Suspected Asbestos:

If your popcorn ceiling tests positive for asbestos, professional removal is essential to ensure your safety and proper disposal of the hazardous material.

High Ceilings:

Removing popcorn ceilings from high ceilings can be dangerous and require specialised equipment. Hiring a professional with experience working on tall ceilings is a safer option.

Extensive Popcorn Ceilings:

If you have a large area of popcorn ceiling to remove, the project can be very time-consuming. Hiring a professional can save you significant time and effort.

Heavily Textured or Painted Ceilings:

Popcorn ceilings that are heavily textured or painted with oil-based paint can be very difficult to remove. A professional contractor will have the experience and tools to handle these challenging situations.

Cosy Up Your Couch

During the cooler months, the couch becomes the central hub. It's where we curl up with a good book, enjoy movie nights, and gather with loved ones. To make it extra cosy, invest in plush throws and fluffy cushions in rich autumnal tones like burnt orange, mustard yellow, and deep red. Layer them on your couch for an inviting and textured look. Don't forget a chunky knit throw blanket to snuggle under on chilly evenings.

Bonus tip: Layer cosy rugs with texture on top of hardwood floors for added warmth and visual interest.

Design Republique Tilly Throw Mustard

Design Republique Tilly Throw Mustard

RRP $69.90

www.bedbathandbeyond.co.nz

Fill Your Home With Autumn Scents

Nothing evokes the feeling of autumn quite like seasonal scents, so why not scatter some scented candles or essential oil diffusers throughout your home? Warm and spicy fragrances like cinnamon, clove, and pumpkin spice are perfect for creating a cosy atmosphere. You can also simmer a pot of water with sliced oranges, cloves, and cinnamon sticks on the stove for a natural and long-lasting fragrance.

Glasshouse Fireside In Queenstown

Glasshouse Fireside In Queenstown

RRP $64.95

nz.glasshousefragrances.com

Style Your Bedroom With Autumn Colours

Don't limit the autumnal transformation to your living room. Extend the Autumn vibe to your bedroom. Swap your lightweight summer bedding for a luxurious duvet in a rich autumnal hue. Flannel sheets are a must-have for ultimate cosiness and comfort. To complete the look, add some throw pillows in complementary colours and textures, like lush velvet.

Scallop Berry Quilt Cover Set

Scallop Berry Quilt Cover Set

RRP $229.99

www.adairs.co.nz

Cookware For Warming Autumn Meals

Autumn is the season for hearty stews, soups, and roasts. Make sure you have the right cookware to prepare these delicious meals. A good Dutch oven is versatile and can be used for slow-cooking stews and braising meats. A cast iron skillet is perfect for searing steaks and creating crispy roasted vegetables. Don't forget a large stock pot for making comforting soups and broths.

Capital Kitchen Element Cast Iron Casserole, Green 4L

Capital Kitchen Element Cast Iron Casserole, Green 4L

RRP $199.99

www.stevens.co.nz

With these four must-haves, your home will be transformed into a cosy and inviting haven, perfectly prepared to embrace the beauty and comfort of autumn. So, light some candles, put on your favourite fall playlist, and get ready to enjoy the season!

This guide will walk you through the essential steps to setting up a successful fish tank and ensuring your finned friends live a happy and vibrant life.

Choosing the Perfect Tank for Your Needs

The first step is selecting the right tank for your space and desired fish.

Size Matters:

Consider the number and type of fish you plan to keep. Fish have a sense of territory, just like humans. In a cramped environment, competition for space increases, leading to stress and aggressive behaviour. Dominant fish may bully or harass weaker tank mates.

Many fish species grow considerably larger than their juvenile size at the pet store. Don't be surprised if your cute little goldfish eventually needs a bigger home! Choosing a tank that accommodates their adult size ensures their long-term well-being.

Overcrowding directly impacts water quality. Fish produce waste, which builds up quickly in a small tank. Insufficient water volume dilutes this waste less effectively, leading to ammonia spikes, nitrite poisoning, and, ultimately, fish death.

So, how big of a tank do you need? Here are some general guidelines:

Small Fish (under 5cm): For smaller fish like tetras, neon tetras, or guppies, a 38-litre tank can be suitable for a small school of 5-6 fish.

Medium Fish (5-10cm): A 75-litre tank is a good starting point for fish like angelfish, dwarf gourami, or some barbs. Aim for a maximum of 3-4 medium-sized fish in this tank size.

Larger Fish (over 10cm): Larger fish, such as goldfish or Oscars, require significantly more space. A minimum of 100 litres is recommended for a single goldfish, and even bigger tanks are recommended for other large species.

Location, Location, Location:

Think about where you'll place the tank. Direct sunlight is a major contributor to unwanted algae growth in your tank. Algae can cloud the water, reduce oxygen levels, and make your beautiful aquarium look unkempt. Placing your tank away from windows or strong artificial lights helps control algae growth.

Temperature fluctuations can be detrimental to fish health. Avoid placing your tank near vents, radiators, or drafty areas. The ideal location will maintain a relatively stable temperature suitable for your chosen fish species.

Setting Up the Essentials

setting up essentials

Once you have your tank, it's time to outfit it with the necessary equipment:

Filtration:

The lifeblood of your tank, a good filter removes waste and keeps the water clean. Choose one appropriate for your tank size.

Heating or Cooling:

Research the ideal temperature range for your chosen fish species to maintain a stable temperature.

Lighting:

Lighting is essential for fish and plants. It provides a day/night cycle and promotes plant growth. For energy efficiency, opt for LED lights.

Substrate:

The bottom layer of your tank, the substrate provides a natural habitat for some fish and helps with beneficial bacteria growth. Choose gravel, sand, or specialised planted tank substrates.

Choosing the Right Fish for Your Aquarium

aquarium

Now for the fun part, selecting your fish! But don't get carried away by their dazzling colours. Here's what to consider:

Compatibility:

Research different fish species to ensure they can cohabitate peacefully. Some fish are territorial or aggressive, while others prefer schooling in groups.

Tank Size Considerations:

Don't overcrowd! Each fish species has specific space requirements. Smaller fish, such as tetras or neon tetras, do well in smaller tanks, while larger fish, like angelfish, need more space.

Water Conditions:

Different fish thrive in varying water parameters, such as pH and hardness. Choose fish suited to the water conditions you can maintain.

The Nitrogen Cycle

Before introducing fish, understand the nitrogen cycle—the foundation of a healthy aquarium. This natural process breaks down fish waste into harmless nitrogen compounds, and beneficial bacteria living in your filter and substrate play a crucial role in this cycle.

Setting up a fish tank involves establishing these bacteria colonies. This "cycling" process can take several weeks. Be patient, and test your water regularly for ammonia and nitrite levels.

Once these levels reach zero and nitrates remain low, your tank is ready for fish!

Maintaining Your Aquarium

maintaining aquarium

Regular maintenance is key to a thriving fish tank:

Water Changes:

Perform partial water changes weekly to remove waste products and top up with treated tap water.

Cleaning:

Clean the filter media regularly and siphon the gravel to remove debris.

Feeding:

Feed your fish a high-quality diet appropriate for their species. Avoid overfeeding, which can pollute the water.

Troubleshooting Common Fish Tank Problems

Even with proper care, problems can arise. Don't panic! Common issues include:

Algae Growth:

Reduce light exposure, adjust feeding habits, and consider adding algae-eating fish.

Fish Disease:

Monitor your fish for signs of illness and research appropriate treatments. To prevent illnesses, maintain good water quality.

Sudden Fish Death:

Test your water parameters immediately. Check for sudden changes in temperature or spikes in ammonia or nitrite levels.

This vibrant and expressive style celebrates personality, embraces bold colours and patterns, and encourages you to surround yourself with things you love. But what exactly is maximalism, and how can you incorporate it into your home without creating visual chaos?  

What Is Maximalism?   

what is maximalism

Maximalism is the antithesis of minimalism. Instead of clean lines and pared-down spaces, maximalism thrives on a layered and eclectic approach. It's about showcasing your unique taste through a vibrant mix of colours, patterns, textures, and collected treasures. Maximalist interiors are a feast for the senses, bursting with personality and reflecting the homeowner's passions and collections.   

Think jewel tones juxtaposed with playful prints. Imagine vintage finds displayed alongside modern artwork. Picture a statement sofa anchoring a room filled with textured throws and mismatched cushions. Maximalism isn't about following rigid rules; it's about creating a space that feels personal, stimulating, and full of life.       

When Maximalism Goes Too Far

While maximalism encourages an abundance of personality, it's important to strike a balance. Here are some potential pitfalls to avoid:

Visual overload:

Too many competing colours, patterns, and textures can create a chaotic and overwhelming space.

Lack of cohesion:

A jumbled collection of unrelated items can look more cluttered than curated.

Scaling issues:

Overly large furniture or statement pieces can overpower a room, restricting functionality.

Ignoring functionality:

Don't let aesthetics overtake practicality. Ensure your space remains comfortable and liveable.   

Top Tips for Mastering Bold Maximalist Design

maximalist designs

Ready to embrace the maximalist movement and create a bold and fun home? Here are some key tips to help you achieve a stunning and balanced space:

Edit with Intention:

Maximalism doesn't mean hoarding. While you can have a lot, it shouldn't feel cluttered. Curate your collection, display your most meaningful pieces, and store away anything that doesn't spark joy.

Embrace the Mix:

The beauty of maximalism lies in its eclectic nature. Don't be afraid to combine different colours, patterns, and textures. Mixing vintage pieces with modern finds adds depth and character to your space.

Let There Be Light:

Proper lighting is crucial in balancing a maximalist space. Natural light is always preferable, but incorporate layered artificial lighting to highlight different areas and create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Statement Pieces Are Your Friends:

A bold sofa, a colourful rug, or a large piece of artwork can serve as the focal point of your room. Choose statement pieces that reflect your personality and create a conversation starter.

statement pieces

Don't Forget the Floor:

Layered rugs are a fantastic way to add colour, pattern, and texture to a maximalist space. Experiment with combining different sizes and materials to create visual interest.

Storytelling Through Décor:

Use your décor to tell a story about yourself and your interests. Display travel souvenirs, artwork that speaks to you, or family heirlooms. Your home should reflect your unique personality and experiences.

Create Cohesion with Colour:

While maximalism allows for a vibrant mix, consider using a limited colour palette as a unifying thread. Choose a few complementary colours and use them throughout your space in varying shades and intensities.

The Power of Repetition:

Repetition helps create a sense of visual flow and balance in a maximalist space. Pick a pattern or colour and repeat it throughout the room, either in textiles, artwork, or decorative accents.

Embrace the Unexpected:

Maximalism encourages a touch of whimsy. Don't be afraid to incorporate unexpected elements that spark joy and conversation.

Remember, maximalism is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the process of collecting pieces that speak to you, experiment with different combinations, and, most importantly, have fun creating a space that reflects your unique personality and brings you joy. So, unleash your inner maximalist and let your creativity run wild!


Before diving into creating your dream set up, let’s talk about the essential elements of a gaming room.

Choosing a Comfortable Gaming Chair

Your chair can make or break your gaming experience. Let’s be honest; nobody games in half-hour slots. When we sit down for a session, we’re there for a good few hours. Invest in a high-quality chair with lumbar support and adjustable features. Position your equipment at the correct height to prevent straining your wrists and neck. A well thought out ergonomic setup enhances your performance and allows you to game comfortably for longer. 

Comfortable Gaming Chair

When you picture your set up, envision what it will look like. Is your equipment spread out or fairly compact? Do you have dual monitors that need extra space? Whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist gamer will determine the desk you buy. Thankfully, the options for great gaming desks are endless, some coming already equipped with cup holders, headphone storage and even LED lighting. 

Understanding Your Gaming Display Needs

Understanding Your Gaming Display Needs

When it comes to your display, there are a few things to consider. Bigger is not always better when it comes to monitors. Anything larger than a 27-inch monitor means you will need to move your head to take in all visuals. If you’re wanting a bigger screen, it’s recommended you go for a curved monitor for a more consistent view and an immersive gaming experience. A high-resolution gaming monitor is a non-negotiable requirement for any PC set up. Look for one with a high refresh rate to minimise motion blur.

Gaming Headphones To Get You In The Zone

To get you in the zone, a pair of high-quality noise cancelling gaming headphones are a must. Consider a wireless pair with a built-in mic that offer great sound without the hassle of being tied down by cables. A good pair of headphones provides an immersive experience that allows you to communicate with online teammates and hear subtle sounds that can help improve your gameplay. 

Adding Personal Touches To Your Gaming Room

Adding Personal Touches To Your Gaming Room

Fun lighting isn’t essential, but it can elevate your gaming room to the next level. Some popular choices are light bars, strip lights, light panels and neon signs. 

Don’t forget to show off your personality by decorating with all your favourite things. Do you have a fandom that you’re obsessed with? Maybe you have an expensive collection of figurines that you want to display or plenty of posters to hang on the walls. Whatever it is, personalise your space to add character and create a gaming environment that is uniquely yours. 

Adding Personal Touches To Your Gaming Room

Think about your absolute must haves. Most of us don’t have an endless budget, and high-quality tech can add up quickly, so make a list of your priorities and stick to them. Whether it’s an adjustable desk, dual monitors, or even strip lights wrapping around the room, what can you not function without when you game? 

Check Out Some Of Our Favourite Gaming Accessories

Tarok Ultimate Razer Edition Gaming Chair by ZEN

 Razer Edition Gaming Chair

RRP $598.00
www.mightyape.co.nz

Juggernaut L-Shaped Gaming Desk - Black

Juggernaut L-Shaped Gaming Desk - Black

RRP $348.00
www.mightyape.co.nz

Logitech G733 LIGHTSPEED Wireless RGB Gaming Headset - Black

Logitech G733 LIGHTSPEED Wireless RGB Gaming Headset - Black

RRP $278.00
www.mightyape.co.nz

SteelSeries Apex PRO TKL Wireless Gaming Keyboard

SteelSeries Apex PRO TKL Wireless Gaming Keyboard

RRP $648.00
www.mightyape.co.nz

RGB Gaming - Vertical Headphone Stand - Black

RGB Gaming - Vertical Headphone Stand - Black

RRP $59.00
www.mightyape.co.nz

Photos via Pinterest

This room is more than just a physical space; it's a safe space where your child can express themselves, explore their creativity, and engage in play. It's a place where they can learn, grow, and develop their own identity. Therefore, it's essential to design a kids' room that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, adaptable, and conducive to learning and play.

flexible furniture for a growing child

Flexible Furniture for a Growing Child

design a kids’ room

Flexible furniture can adapt to your child's changing needs, making it a wise investment for a growing child. It can be reconfigured or converted to suit different stages of your child's growth.

For instance, a convertible crib can be transformed into a toddler bed and, finally, into a full-sized bed as your child grows. This flexibility allows you to make the most of your space while ensuring your child's comfort.

Another aspect to consider is storage. Children have a lot of toys and books, and it's essential to have a place for everything. Consider using storage solutions that are not only functional but also fun and engaging for kids. For example, a toy box with wheels can be a practical solution for storing toys, and later used for clothing when they grow. Explore toy storage ideas for creative solutions.

The Role of Colour in a Kids Room

the role of colour in a kids room

Colour plays a significant role in a kids' room. It can influence mood, stimulate creativity, and even affect a child's concentration levels. Therefore, it's important to choose colours that are not only appealing to children but also serve a purpose.

Bright, bold colours can stimulate a child's creativity and energy. However, it's essential to balance these colours with softer hues to prevent the room from becoming overwhelming. Neutral colours like white, beige, or grey can serve as a good base, allowing you to add pops of colour without making the room feel too busy.

Consider using temporary wallpaper or decals to bring in your child’s favourite colour or animal to avoid having to repaint when they grow out of that phase. 

Timeless Design Elements for a Kids Room

timeless design elements for a kids room

While it's tempting to jump on the latest trends, it's important to remember that kids' rooms need to be functional and durable. Therefore, it's wise to incorporate timeless design elements that will stand the test of time.

Investing in quality furniture is one of the best ways to ensure your kids' room design will stand the test of time. While trends may come and go, well-made furniture with sturdy construction can last for years. Consider pieces like nia wooden bookshelf or a rustic dresser that can serve a practical purpose and add character to the room.

The flooring in a kids' room needs to be durable and easy to clean. Options like hardwood, laminate, or carpet tiles can withstand the wear and tear of a child's play, and they are also easy to clean if spills or accidents occur.

Personal Touches

personal touches

Finally, don't forget to add personal touches to the room. This could be in the form of personalised wall art, photo frames, or even a special spot for your child's favourite books or toys. These personal touches can make the room feel more special and personal to your child.

Photos via Pinterest

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