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Tips to save money and live lean in the tropics


“shade + airflow = comfort in the tropics”

  • Open up doors and windows – allow breezes to flow throughout your home
  • Move outside to take advantage of cooling breezes or the cool night sky
  • Create a cool, shady oasis around your home

“use fans”

  • An air conditioner uses five times more energy than a fan

“use air-con cents-ibly”

  • Set your air-conditioner to 24°C or higher
  • Air-condition the smallest area possible
  • Stop up gaps - prevent hot air coming in or cool air leaking out
  • Provide shade and good airflow around the compressor (the outside part of your air-conditioner)
  • Close the blinds or curtains on windows that get direct sunshine
  • If you’re getting a new aircon installed ensure it is wired to the cheaper tariff 33 (controlled supply)

“cool down”

  • Dress for our climate
  • Cool down with a quick cold shower
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat something cold

“head out somewhere breezy, shady and cool”

  • Head out to your local swimming pool/hole... a shady public park....Riverway...The Strand
  • Hang out at a shopping centre, the movies or the library
  • Visit a friend and share their air-conditioning, or invite them to share yours



“be hot water smart and save big $$”

  • Turn down your electric hot water system to 60°C

“be technology savvy - eliminate standby power & slash 10% off your electricity bill”

  • Eliminate standby - turn appliances off at the wall when you’re not using them
  • If you like background noise - choose the radio rather than the tv
  • If you’re not going to use your computer for more than 30 minutes, shut it down
  • Only turn on your printer when you are actually printing
  • Choose printer settings to use ink efficiently

“only turn on the lights that you need”

  • If there are more lights than you need on one switch remove some of the bulbs
  • Move compact fluorescent bulbs into the light fittings that you use the most

“the cost of running extra fridges and freezers is surprising”

  • Run as few fridges and freezers as possible
  • Position them out of the sun
  • Allow a 5cm airspace on ALL sides

“be an energy-masterchef”

  • Cook in bulk and freeze meal sized portions for an easy dinner another night
  • Put lids on pots when cooking on the stove
  • Cook with the microwave or with gas in preference to an electric stove or oven
  • Heat only as much water as you need
  • Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load and select an 'eco' or short cycle
  • Air-dry dishes rather than using the dishwasher’s drying cycle

“washing daze”

  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Wait until you have full loads
  • Buy concentrated (ideally biodegradable) laundry powders, and use less laundry powder than is recommended
  • Line dry clothes


“for a healthier home”

  • Stop buying toxic cleaning products. Use bicarb soda (baking soda), vinegar, lemons and eucalyptus oil for effective non-toxic cleaning
  • Skip air-fresheners – add a few drops of vinegar, eucalyptus or lavender essential oil to water before mopping or wiping down surfaces

“hey good looking”

  • Take shorter showers
  • Simplify your skin care and makeup regime. Buy only a smaller number of products and use the whole tube or bottle before buying more

“green your garden”

  • Use soaker hoses or drippers instead of sprinklers and keep watering times short
  • If you have a pool, reduce the hours that the pool pump and chlorinator run, especially in the cooler months
  • Choose drought-tolerant native plants for a low water use garden
  • Make your own mulch

“exercise begins at your front door”

  • Walk, bike or jog along your local streets or designated walking/bike tracks

“get cruisey”

  • Keep your car tyres inflated at the recommended levels
  • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes fuel

“think before you buy”

  • Buy less - Buy wisely
  • Borrow instead, e.g. books (from the library), lawnmower (from your neighbour), clothes (from your best friend)
  • Buy preloved – clothing, furniture, household items and toys
  • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, local papers, online e.g., 
  • Put aside time to clean, mend or repair broken or damaged items to give them a new lease on life


“shop like a local”

  • Plan meals to use locally grown fruit and vegetables when they’re in season, abundant and cheap
  • Buy direct from local growers / the markets
  • Eat low on the food chain – eat more fruit, vegies and grains, increase the number of vegetarian meals you eat each week and choose food with less processing and packaging
  • Write a list

“heading out and about?”

  • Take a refillable water bottle with you
  • Avoid buying food on the run. Take healthy snacks or a light meal from home

“eating in a hot climate”

  • Avoid heating up your kitchen
  • Eat cold foods,....basically anything that doesn’t require you to cook it or heat it up, e.g. cold leftovers, quiche, frittatas, sandwiches, cold meats, cold hardboiled eggs, salads
  • Cook outdoors in a wok or BBQ
  • Eat outside
  • Eat spicy Asian, Indian or Latin inspired foods - sweat it out and feel cooler