Friday, September 29, 2017

How much electricity does a Google Home device use?

One technique to save money on electricity is to turn off all those stand-by devices. TVs, media players, computers, monitors, etc., all consume electricity even when in stand-by and that can add up to a hundred dollars or more a year. However, many devices need to remain permanently on to be useful. Google Home is one such device.

A Google Home devices sits there waiting for you to issue a command. It's always on. I decided to measure the wattage being used by the device and it works out to be around 2.9 watts.

To work out the cost I plug the 2.9 watts into my Energy Cost Calculator, along with the fact that it is running 24 hours a day. The running cost of the Google Home device is around $8.34 a year, based on the electricity provider I use and set as the default in the Energy Cost Calculator. Your electricity costs may vary.

Keep in mind these devices are really only useful on a room-by-room basis, so there's a good chance you'll be encouraged to buy more. Perhaps one in each room. Each device adds to your electricity cost.

Now of course $8.34 a year isn't that much and if Google Home gives you considerable enjoyment and usefulness, then that's one of the many choices you have to make in life.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Four big banks drop ATM fees. Watch out for the trap you can easily fall for.

On the weekend Commonwealth Bank announced they were dropping ATM fees for cash withdrawals for customers from other banks. For some people that could be a good saving, or at least it makes withdrawing cash easier and more convenient.

The other three major banks made similar announcements on Sunday if I recall correctly, which I thought was interesting as it wasn't a bank day. However, the first thing to note is it wasn't clear when the other banks would start. It looks like some time in October.

Now the trap is that people may think this means any ATM, but this isn't correct. Even BankWest, which is a subsidiary or the Commonwealth Bank is not dropping the ATM fees. Reportedly neither are the ATMs in 7/11 or Redi ATMs.

It is therefore important that you don't just think all ATMs are now fee free for cash withdrawals. First Commbank's, which was immediate, then the other banks, NAB, Westpac and ANZ, sometime in the near future. Stick with those brands of ATMs and you should be OK to get cash withdrawals without paying a fee. Of course if in doubt, stick with ATMs from your own bank.

If you're travelling overseas ATM fees still apply.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 22, 2017

Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator now available.

Lately I've been looking at term deposits and with the current rates available, it's not that exciting. When you look at term deposits you're naturally going to compare term deposit rates and the return with the different rates. Often this requires two calculations and noting down each amount and then calculating the difference. Do this a few times and you'll understand why I decided to write the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator.

With interest rates being so low you'd think it's not worth worrying about them. However, it's because they're so low that what would be seen normally as not a big difference, can make a large difference in your return.

For example I have some money in a web savings account earning 1.45% at call. Shopping around for a better interest and I can get 3% on a 3 month bonus savings account, or 2.95% at call on an online account subject to meeting certain conditions. Either of these will nearly double the interest earned.

But is it really worth the time and effort chasing a better interest rate. Depending on how much you have and the interest difference, it may or may not be. The only way to know is to do the calculations. You'll be surprised that often it really is worth moving the money around.

Keep in mind when you move money around you may lose a day of interest, and if you need a cheque, there could be a charge. Even a transfer from one bank to another will generally cost a fee. Then there's your time. The banks will sit you down and it does take far more time than you expect to open and close accounts. There is a time and cost involved in moving money around.

Overall however I'm very pleased I made the effort. I tend to stick with the same bank, which I consider to offer good rates, but when I made the move to move the money around I'll be considerably better off with other banks. It's also a good time to ask your bank if they can do better. It's at these times you'll find that as a customer you don't really matter very much and all the marketing hype about how much you're worth to them is just marketing. Even though it may cost a bank perhaps a few hundred to keep you, they're generally happy to lose thousands of dollars income for themselves than to make a real effort for customers. The lesson really is you have to look after your own interests.

Whilst I've called the new calculator Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator, you can really use the calculator with any type of interest bearing account. I was able to compare term deposit rates and also compare interest rates for other savings accounts.

I hope you find the Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator to be useful.

Kelvin Eldridge
Compare Term Deposit Rates Calculator

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Seniors card discount at KFC.

If you have a Seniors card KFC offer a 10% discount. So far I've tested a number of KFC stores (Eltham, Eastland, Thomstown) and KFC has been consistent and easy to deal with when using the Seniors card.

One thing to be aware of, is KFC have an offer where if you provide feedback, they'll provide a free regular chips and drink on your next purchase which is a saving of around $3. If you use the Seniors card to get a discount you don't get the offer to complete the survey. Depending on how much you spend, it may be better value to do the survey.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Melbourne petrol prices starting to hike to 142.9.

I noticed tonight quite a few petrol stations around Melbourne have started to hike their prices to 142.9. It looks like it's that time again when petrol prices hike back up again.

If you're taken advantage of the 7  Eleven fuel app watch the prices around you and lock in a good price for the next week.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, September 14, 2017

ASIC Messaging Service Renewal - Scam email

Today I received an email which appeared to come from ASIC for the renewal of my business name. At first glance it looked legitimate. It had my name in the To field and I do have registered business names which ASIC sends reminders.

I then thought is this a scam email? I checked the headers in the source of the email and the email was from America. That pretty well meant it was a scam. Next I hovered the mouse over the links in the email and they weren't for ASIC. This now meant this was a definite scam.

A short while later I received an email using the domain for a second registered business name. I don't use that email address with ASIC so this too was a scam.

It really is very easy to click on a link from an official looking email but you really shouldn't. In a case like this go to the ASIC site and log on. Don't use the links.

Secondly no matter how tired you feel, pause for a moment. A quick click and you could be in world of pain. Some malicious sites can infect your computer and if that happens it can cost you dearly to remove malware, and if it's encryption malware, you may not be able to recover.

If in doubt set the email aside until later when you have time and patience to check it out. Using a desktop computer and email client hover over the link and see if all links are legitimate. If you're able to, check the IP address the email was sent from. That's usually an excellent indicator of scams.

Scammers are getting better with the presentation of their scams. The emails are often so good because they're a direct copy or variation of a real email and these can easily trick anyone.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
IT support.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dodo Power and Gas increasing Electricity and Gas charges.

Today I received an email from Dodo Power and Gas letting me know their electricity and gas prices are going up. I decided to do a quick analysis.


Daily Supply Charge - increasing 15%
Anytime usage - 15%


Daily Supply Charge - 20%
Usage - 15%

These increases are actually quite staggering.

We've all heard issues with energy supply in the media recently. Gas being contracted off for overseas sales and electricity infrastructure closing down. Even so the Daily Supply Charge for gas going up 20% when I don't recall reading much about infrastructure changes, doesn't quite make sense.

One of the problems with Dodo putting up their prices now when the rest of the industry puts their prices up around January, is they look bad for a while until the rest put their prices up. That means you have to wait until you see what happens with the other supplies in the new year.

Not good news at all. We're quite frugal with our energy usage now so this increase will be difficult if not impossible to negate in some way with further energy reduction. However it never hurts to look for ways to reduce usage.

I'm a believer that as the prices increase, that one day an alternative will become available because it becomes cost effective. For example as the daily supply charge increases for gas it may mean it becomes viable to consider only using electricity. Perhaps the gas to electricity conversion becomes more cost effective and thus we could get rid of the electricity suppliers. Perhaps with solar, better batteries we may be to get rid of one supplier. Certainly lower energy cost appliances (e.g. lights) and computers have helped reduce energy use, so we really never know what's around the corner.

If you're paying large amounts on electricity bills working what your appliances are costing you so you can make informed decisions is something we did that saved us thousands. I wrote the Energy Cost Calculator ( to help me with calculations. Perhaps it might help others.

Kelvin Eldridge

Update: 14 September 2017
As a result of this nudge I decided to go searching for better prices. As a result I believe I've identified a supplier which would be $60 a year better for electricity and around $240 better for gas. That's a potential saving of around $300 per year. I thought I had shopped around and had good prices, reduced electricity usage, but the one area I've been less thorough, is with gas and this shows with the potential saving. This is a reminder that you should shop around.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Can you thaw and then refreeze meat?

Today I read an article on whether or not you can thaw and refreeze meat which appeared on the site.

The problem is the first myth in the article didn't quite make sense and didn't really answer the question.

Myth 1: If you thaw meat, you can’t refreeze it.

FALSE. According to the CSIRO, it’s perfectly safe to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at five degrees C or below. The only thing you may compromise is a bit of taste, as defrosted meat can become slightly watery.

If there’s anything to watch, it’s the pre-freezer ‘steam’. If you cook defrosted meat and refreeze it into a container while hot, you’ll create condensation — which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So wait for the steam to subside before packaging.

I thought I'd then look for the source of the material from the CSIRO. The same article on the CSIRO made sense.

Myth 1: if you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken you can’t refreeze it

From a safety point of view, it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. Some quality may be lost by defrosting then refreezing foods as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.

Another option is to cook the defrosted food and then divide into small portions and refreeze once it has stopped steaming. Steam in a closed container leads to condensation, which can result in pools of water forming. This, combined with the nutrients in the food, creates the perfect environment for microbial growth. So it’s always best to wait about 30 minutes before refrigerating or freezing hot food.

Plan ahead so food can be defrosted in the fridge, especially with large items such as a frozen turkey or roll of meat. If left on the bench, the external surface could be at room temperature and micro-organisms could be growing rapidly while the centre of the piece is still frozen!

This is an example of how you have to be careful when material is edited and republished on other sites. The site didn't make sense as they had removed the paragraph starting with "Another option". The article went straight from refreezing thawed meat to talking about steam being a problem. Nothing about cooking and thus the disconnected meant it didn't make sense and wasn't advice I'd follow. The CSIRO article was complete, made sense and gives me confidence I can follow the advice.

So yes, according to the CSIRO you can thaw and refreeze meat, as long as you follow their guidance.

Kelvin Eldridge

Friday, September 08, 2017

McDonald's monopoly Australia rare pieces 2017.

Just for fun!

It's that time when McDonald's runs their Monopoly competition. In previous years I've posted the rare pieces as they've become known. If you'd like to help, post the McDonald's monopoly pieces you have in a comment below. That way we can determine the rare pieces together.

NOTE: This is for McDonald's monopoly Australia 2017.

Rare pieces.

Park Lane
Euston Road
Marlborough Street
Fenchurch St Station
Fleet Street
Regent Street
Old Kent Road

Information has been collected from purchases and internet research. I've not personally confirmed all rare pieces, however the above list is most likely correct.

Remember, post a comment of all your pieces to help identify the rare pieces.

Thanks and enjoy.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Seniors discount at Red Rooster Doncaster.

I thought I'd start recording where Seniors Card holders can get discount. Yes there's a online site that has a directory, but I've found the business I use aren't listed.

I noticed the Red Rooster on the corner of Manningham Road and High Street (known as Red Rooster Doncaster on the Red Rooster site) has a sign on their drive-through window that they offer a seniors discount. I asked what it was and they said it was 10% off.

As usual you can expect this may not apply with other discounts, but getting 10% your Red Rooster order is a nice bonus for seniors.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. Whilst the Red Rooster according to Red Rooster's site is known as Doncaster, this is a weird section of land in terms of suburb boundaries and the actual location is in Templestowe Lower.

Update: 8 October 2017
Red Rooster is offering a $5 Hungry for Value deal. The Seniors card did not apply.