AGL Digital / Smart Meters Lock You In!

AGL, our current electricity provider, recently updated us to a digital or “smart” meter. The specific model that they installed is an EDMI Atlas Mk10D.

EDMI Atlas Mk10D

Digital Smart Meter CompatibilityWhen we had the meter installed by AGL we were informed that we could opt out from the new meter. We decided to go ahead with it because it would allow us more detail of our energy usage. We also thought that we could change to any other provider we wanted to down the track, since on AGL’s own web site it states, “Yes, the digital meter is compatible with all energy retailers.”.

The screen shot on the right is from their web-site, where it is very clearly stated that it is compatible.

Well, guess what, it’s not!

With AGL’s recent price rise of 12% over last year’s prices (State’s largest energy retailer, AGL, set to hike electricity bill prices) we decided to shop around for a new retailer. We should be able to after all, since according to AGL the meter is compatible will all retailers.

After applying to Simply Energy for a new deal we received an interesting letter back from them:

Thank you for choosing Simply Energy. Unfortunately we are unable to complete your transfer of Electricity to us at this time.

You are not eligible to accept our Electricity supply offer as we cannot supply your meter type. We have terminated this agreement in accordance with the terms and conditions of the offer. This means that your Electricity will continue to be supplied by your current retailer.

Wait, what?

At first I thought that maybe Simply Energy was just behind the times, but after contacting SA Power Networks I was informed that there are no other retailers in South Australia that support that meter. This goes directly against what AGL says on their own web-site.

Needless to say, I will be following up with AGL about this, I am frustrated, to say the least …

South Australia Electricity Prices on the Rise

South Australia Electricity RetailersPrices of electricity on South Australia are still on the rise…

Recently AGL, Origin Energy, and Energy Australia all greatly increased their prices by an average of about $200 per year. Unfortunately those big three retails account for nearly 80% of the market in South Australia.

South Australia is already paying an average of $400 per year more than customers in Canberra, with the big energy retails marking up costs by about $650 per year, per customer (source)…

photo credit: GOC The Pelhams 056: Pylons via photopin (license)

What Home Improvements Add Value to your Home?

Do-Home-Improvement-Add-Value-to-Your-HomeWhen looking at improving your home and investing in renovations, it is always good to keep in mind what your ROI will be. This is especially important if you are considering selling your home in the near future.

Some of the more popular home improvements that you may consider are:

  • Remodelling your kitchen
  • Adding a bathroom
  • Adding a Deck
  • Renovating the Attic or Basement

You may also want to consider some “green” renovation options, which may include:

  • Upgrading to more energy efficient windows
  • Improving or adding insulation
  • Adding solar panels

There are some other remodelling options that, while they may be desirable to you, do not actually carry very good ROI:

  • Adding a pool
  • Luxury home office
  • Highend gourmet kitchen
  • Adding a sunroom
  • Delux / luxury bathroom upgrade

Of all of the options that you have for home improvements, the ones that, if done wisely, have the highest Return on Invesment are a kitchen remodel and a bathroom addition. The kitchen remodel has a potential ROI of 60% – 120%, and a bathroom addition can bring an expected ROI of between 80% – 130%.

While considering selling your home you also mustn’t neglect your basic updates which include cleaning, repairing, and painting. These basic projects are important in making your home more attractive and appealing for potential buyers.

You can find out more details about these options by clicking on the infographic in this post…

Source: Half Price.com.au

What To Do When You Discover Asbestos In Your Building

Dangerous asbestos roof - Medical studies have shown that the asbestos particles can cause cancer - toned image

Before 1985, dangerous asbestos fibres were often used in a range of Australian construction materials. In those days, the naturally occurring mineral fibre – with its versatility, tensile strength, and insulating qualities – was thought to be God’s gift to the construction industry.

We now know that exposure to asbestos can be detrimental to your health. If you suspect that a building where you live, work or frequent contains asbestos, immediate action is required.

Step One: Evacuate

Exposure to asbestos poses significant potential health risks and can be life-threatening. If you are concerned that you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor. If you suspect that the material is present in your home or building, and you are not qualified to work with it, your immediate priority should be to secure the site and evacuate. You should then call in the professionals and have the site surveyed. They will test for Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) and advise how to proceed.

Keep out sign Asbestor

Step Two: Identify & Assess

If you have reason to believe that ACMs are present in your building, contract an accredited Building Consultant to conduct an Asbestos Identification Inspection. In some cases, the presence of asbestos can be presumed prima facie but ordinarily, the inspector will take samples for analysis, to ascertain the presence of ACMs. Once the samples have been tested, an Asbestos Register (of both the analysed and ‘presumed’ ACMs) is compiled. This must be displayed prominently on the property to give clear warning to occupants, visitors and tradesmen where any asbestos is located.

Danger-warning-for-Asbestos

Step Three: Remove

Removing asbestos is a dangerous task that should be carried out by licensed professionals. DIY asbestos removal is not recommended but, if you decide to tackle the asbestos yourself, first consult the official code of practice for asbestos removal, authorised by Work Safe Australia.

In older homes, three types of asbestos are commonly found: cladding, fencing and roofing. Many ACMs are bonded or encapsulated and, in this state, are not hazardous. But problems occur when the ACMs are demolished, drilled, cut, moved or otherwise disrupted, releasing the toxic asbestos fibres into the atmosphere. When removing asbestos, use tools and techniques that are least likely to disrupt the asbestos fibres.

Protective clothing is an imperative for asbestos removal. Porous materials, like shoelaces and fabric, should be avoided because they absorb the asbestos fibres and transport them beyond the worksite. Recommended safety gear includes:

  • Respirator
  • Asbestos-proof coveralls
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Steel-capped gumboots

Bauer Elementary

Step Four: Disposal

Once the Asbestos has been removed from your home or building, you are left with the question of disposal. Where large quantities of asbestos must be disposed of, a skip bin may be your best option. Not all skip bin companies accept ACMs so discuss this upfront when enquiring.

If you prefer to dispose of the ACMs at a tip or waste disposal site, ensure that your chosen facility accepts asbestos. To find an asbestos disposal facility near you, search the National Waste Management Database.

Every site will have a list of strict rules around asbestos disposal. In most cases, the ACMs must be double-wrapped in black plastic, and packages must be thoroughly sealed with tape and labelled ‘ASBESTOS’.

Asbestos detection, removal and disposal are time-consuming and costly, but essential. This once-popular building material has left behind a deadly legacy that must be dealt with swiftly and cautiously, in all cases.

Have you had a brush with asbestos in your home or workplace? Share your insights and experiences in the comments section below.

Author Bio:

Jerry Tyrrell has over 40 years of experience in the building, architectural, timber pest inspections and asbestos testing & identification and founded Tyrrells Property Inspections more than 30 years ago. Since then Jerry has supervised the inspection of, or directly inspected, almost 80,000 buildings. He has hands-on experience in most building trades, and has designed, built, supervised and project managed building projects from $5,000 to $8m.