Many Australians are working from home — here’s why they might be doing it in darkness this summer

Air conditioners could send Australia’s power grid into meltdown this summer, as roughly one third of the workforce do their jobs from home, experts have warned.

According to research company Roy Morgan, more than 4.3 million Australians are working from home as employees and employers continue to take a cautious approach to coronavirus social-distancing.

But warmer weather has come with a warning that increased use of air-conditioning in homes could lead to more blackouts and higher electricity bills.

“Air-conditioning is what drives our maximum demand in Australia,” said Peter Dobney, the former founding chairman of the Energy Users Association of Australia.

“We can expect higher prices, in fact, I think that’s a certainty.”

Last summer was Australia’s second-hottest on record and spring temperatures have already been warmer than average in many areas, according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Dr Paul Bannister, an energy efficiency expert from consulting services company Delta Q, said that did not bode well for the months ahead.

Blackouts can be sparked when electricity infrastructure is overwhelmed by demand.

When that happens, energy providers have to choose areas of the grid to turn off, Dr Bannister explained.

“And with more people working from home there will be a higher load in the residential areas,” Dr Bannister said.

“But there won’t be a comparable drop in the commercial load, because most of the buildings are still operating.”

Some companies, like Optus, have opted for socially-distanced floors in their Sydney headquarters, with rosters allowing 50 per cent of staff in the office.

Others, like ANZ, sent around 95 per cent of their workforce home at the beginning of the pandemic, and have flagged that some employees may never return to Melbourne and Sydney offices.

“It’s very clear there is a risk here, with the air-conditioning running in the home and in the building at the same time,” Dr Bannister said.

“And cooling a house, it’s not as well insulated as a building, and the home may be less energy efficient.”

Energy politics in Australia has been divisive in recent history.

A storm-stricken South Australia experienced a statewide blackout in 2016, and a stoush erupted in the aftermath as some politicians blamed the incident on renewable energy sources they argued were unreliable.

The blackout led to Tesla founder Elon Musk building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery to store power for the state.

Meanwhile, AGL Energy had to turn off its Tomago Aluminium Smelter in NSW — which is responsible for using roughly 10 per cent of the state’s power — for several days in January in a bid to stop blackouts.

The Bureau of Meteorology has already forecast above-average temperatures this summer.(Supplied: Scott Veitch)

Mr Dobney said there were other ways households could help, including going without air-conditioning for 15 minutes every hour in peak periods.

Some power companies offer a service where customers can order them to automatically turn off air conditioners.

It’s known as “load shedding”, and some large corporations already do it lower power costs.

“It would get the demand down by 20 per cent or more in those residential areas,” Mr Dobney said.

“And this idea would mean the grid could keep up with demand.”

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Message from the RFS: Be prepared this summer | Goulburn Post

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Spring is upon us and summer is just around the corner. We all remember how tragic last year’s summer was, so the key message from the RFS this weekend? Be prepared. Towrang RFS was just one station across the state that held an open day like event on Saturday, September 19 to support Get Ready Weekend. Towrang RFS captain Phil Ohlback said his staff were always happy to help anyone with problems preparing for the bushfire season. READ ALSO: Youth Off The Street launches Cup of Kindness Day “If they’re not sure about what to do, they can give us a call on 0437 298 271,” Mr Ohlback said. Inspector Ben Shepherd from NSW RFS explained what he hoped the public would gain Get Ready Weekend. “Ultimately, what we’re looking for people to do is to use this weekend, not only to prepare their property, but to prepare themselves,” Mr Shepherd said. “They need to ensure they have their bushfire survival plans in place and to discuss it as a household. READ ALSO: Take the weekend quiz “Albeit we are looking at a wetter spring and summer than we had last year, we know in areas, especially around Goulburn, it will lead to an increase in grass growth. “That will lead to an increase in risk over the warmer months of the year.” The hardworking team at Towrang RFS include president Matt Whittaker, community liaison officer Jean Morrison, senior deputy Clinton Landow and firefighters Kevin Bulman and Tom Soderborg. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.


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Seven refuses to pay Cricket Australia full price to broadcast the summer of cricket

Seven West Media has refused to pay full price for its broadcast rights with Cricket Australia (CA), making a partial payment that is certain to stretch a relationship that is already incredibly strained.

Foxtel is yet to reveal its cards publicly but is also believed to be adopting a similar approach to Seven in its pursuit of a discount from CA.

Seven and CA remain at loggerheads on the eve of the 2020-21 season, with the disgruntled free-to-air broadcaster threatening to walk away from its $450 commitment to the sport.

The media giant last week issued CA a legal letter, declaring the governing body had breached its contract.

CA is yet to formally respond to that dispute, which if further escalated could potentially result in Seven terminating its deal.

The broadcaster, which used a range of arguments while pushing for its annual rights fee to be reduced, has now grown tired of CA’s refusal to enter negotiations and opted to apply its own discount.

Seven, which was due to pay $25 million to CA on Tuesday, has confirmed a smaller total has been transferred.

Seven refused to reveal the exact figure transferred to CA.(AP: Trevor Collens)

“Seven has paid the first instalment reflecting our assessment of fair value,” Seven chief executive James Warburton said in a statement.

Seven is unlikely to make future payments, which indicates a legal stoush is looming unless the feuding parties reconcile their significant differences soon.

CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley is desperate to avoid a hammer blow to his organisation’s revenue.

He has the backing of a board that has repeatedly declared it will not offer any form of discount on the six-year broadcast deal, which totalled $1.2 billion and was signed in 2018.

Hockley released a statement highlighting the upside of what he termed a “massive summer of cricket”.

“We are confident of delivering a compelling summer schedule that will meet our commitments to our broadcast partners and the high expectations of our fans,” he said.

Seven and Foxtel both remain frustrated at CA’s inability to deliver a final schedule for 2020-21.

CA is waiting on state-government clearances before releasing its updated fixtures list.

The governing body has repeatedly insisted it will, unlike the AFL and NRL, deliver a full season of content as promised.

“We will hold up our end of the bargain. I am sure Channel Seven and Foxtel will as well,” CA chairman Earl Eddings said earlier this year.

India captain Virat Kohli and Australia captain Tim Paine shake hands at the SCG after the Test series between their teams.
Australia is set to play India in four Tests this summer.(AP: Rick Rycroft)

Seven has guaranteed it will broadcast cricket while the dispute rumbles on, starting with the season-opening women’s trans-Tasman Twenty20 on September 26.

“We’ll keep putting on a good show and it’ll be great for lots and lots and lots of Australians to watch it,” national men’s coach Justin Langer said.

Warburton refused to reveal the exact figure transferred to CA but noted Seven picked the number after consulting a third party.

“Putting aside the questions of breach, in accordance with the contract Seven has invoked the right to appoint an independent expert,” he said.

“To determine the fair value of the media rights against the expected schedule for the season, compared to the originally published schedule.”


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Summer was hottest on record in Northern Hemisphere

The Northern Hemisphere experienced its warmest summer on record, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Monday.

The US governmental agency found that in the three months from June through August, average temperatures were 0.92°C above the 20th-century average.

This made it “the hottest meteorological summer on record, surpassing both 2019 and 2016 which were previously tied for hottest, the NOAA said in a statement.

August was particularly scorching and was the hottest on record in the Northern Hemisphere with average temperatures climbing 1.19°C above the 20th-century average.

For the world as a whole, it was the second-hottest August in the 141-year record behind August 2016.

“Globally, the 10 warmest Augusts have all occurred since 1998 — with the five warmest occurring since 2015,” the NOAA added.

Scientists now expect 2020 to be rank among the five-warmest years on record with Europe, Asia and the Caribbean region all registering their hottest January-August on record.

The agency also flagged that the average Arctic sea ice coverage in August was the third smallest on record, 29.4 per cent below the 1981-2010 average.

The Danish and Greenland Geological Survey announced on Monday that an ice sheet measuring 113 km2 had detached from the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf.

“The atmosphere in this region has warmed by approximately 3°C since 1980 and record-breaking temperatures have been observed in 2019 and 2020,” Dr Jenny Turton, from the Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany, said in a statement.

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Gareth Bale ‘open’ to Man Utd transfer this summer as deal deemed more likely

Gareth Bale is reportedly happy to join Manchester United this summer if a deal can be struck with Real Madrid.

Bale has two years left on his contract in the Spanish capital, and with neither the player or his agent looking to terminate the Wales star’s contract, a loan deal is set to be the only way he could be allowed to leave this summer without Real paying off his contract.

The Times report that Bale would be happy to join United – who have long been linked with a move for him – on a temporary deal this summer, with United set to be liable for a portion of his wages if a deal can be agreed.

United have been determined to sign Jadon Sancho this summer, but their lack of progress on that deal has led to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer beginning to look elsewhere.

Bale has been told to leave Real Madrid

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already brought in Donny van de Beek but Jadon Sancho remains Manchester United’s number one target.

However, they have so far failed to agree a deal with Borussia Dortmund and are considering Gareth Bale as an alternative.

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It is accepted that any deal would be an unlikely one for United to pull off, but The Times claim that a possible move is now considered more likely as all sides soften their stance with the player keen to play football anywhere in the new season.

Zinedine Zidane has no inclination to play Bale in the coming season, and a loan switch to Old Trafford is sure to appeal.

Bale recently voiced his frustrations to Sky Sports, saying: “I tried to leave last year but they [Real Madrid] blocked everything at the last second.

Real Madrid have offered a Gareth Bale wage solution that would allow him to leave the club
The Welshman could join Unitd on loan

“It was a project I was excited for last year but it didn’t materialise. And there have been other instances but the club won’t allow it or something, so it’s up to the club.

“I want to play football. I’m still motivated to play football. I’m 31 but I’m in great shape still and I feel I’ve got a lot to give. We’ll see what happens. It’s in the club’s hands and they make things very difficult to be honest.”

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‘Be prepared’ for summer fires, Braidwood RFS captain Scott Hart says | Goulburn Post

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Scott Hart, captain of the Braidwood RFS brigade spent four months last summer fighting fires throughout the state. Now his brigade are girding their loins for the coming fire season. “WIth any sort of luck,” Captain Hart said, “we’re not going to see anything like what we saw last summer again in our lives, provided things are properly managed and a few of the Bushfire Inquiry’s recommendations are followed.” But Captain Hart continued: “We’re urging everyone to be prepared. “There are a lot more houses than there are trucks to deal with them. Don’t miss the opportunity we’ve got now – we’ve had the reset button pushed. We can start managing things better – at every level from National Parks through the Fire Agency down through individual landowners. Manage your land so that we don’t get the situation we had again.” READ ALSO: The Braidwood brigade will have an information stall at the Ryrie Park market on September 26 – part of the RFS’s Get Ready campaign to help people find out about bush fire risks and plan ahead. The official RFS date is September 19 and 20, but the Braidwood group see more people if they hold the event in conjunction with the markets, rather than as a stand-alone event. “There’s a public face to us in a public area where it’s easy for people to find us,” Captain Hart said. This year, Captain Hart said, the brigade wants to emphasise the importance of public preparedness. “We’re not going to have a truck at every house, so you need to be a bit prepared yourself. Make sure that your gates are wide enough and your trees are clear so that we can get in there, but also make sure you’ve got a bit of equipment so you can look after yourself, and help us help you.” Kids can practise putting out fires with a hose pump, while experienced firefighters will be on hand to talk about individual requirements. “The Get Ready weekend is one way of turning around & being highly visible, and being able to answer those individual questions, because no two landowners will have the same question,” Captain Hart said. “Sometimes the shotgun approach of throwing too much information out there misses the target; you need more of a scalpel approach. We make quite a few introductions where we go out and visit people’s homes and do an assessment if they feel they need it.” For instance, the RFS has been invited by residents in the Araluen escarpment who came under threat last summer to discuss what they did to fight the fires, what worked and what didn’t. “If individual smaller areas get together, we are more than happy to go out and discuss their particular issues on site,” Captain Hart said. “These things are best driven by the community asking for what they want, rather than the government telling them what they should want.” The RFS brigade has 50-odd members on their books, Captain Hart said: 20 operational members, who come out for the big fires (“Plenty of those resurfaced, and we were glad to see them”), and half a dozen who are “available at the drop of a hat, who’ll just go, no matter what the call is”. Three new members have joined since summer; they passed their assessment in the last fortnight, so are now ready go to online. Braidwood, Captain Hart said, had the smallest uptake of new members out of the local brigades; Major’s Creek, for instance, had eight or nine. “They’ve put on a lot more because they’re living right on the timber,” Captain Hart said. “We had a couple of bad days in the town, but the outlying areas had a lot more bad days. And so these landowners further out realise they need to help themselves a bit.” The brigade’s doors are always open to new members – but Captain Hart wants committed members. “Too many people see all the excitement and want to join, but the reality is we’re much more likely to be pulled out of bed at 2 o’clock in the morning to deal with someone’s pile burn or a car accident than we are to get to fight those big fires. “There’s very little to no glamour around the normal things that we do. So make sure that you are happy to work with us on doing the mundane things as well as the big stuff.” The Braidwood station was designed to be a regional control centre in the event of the big fires; it “copped an absolute workout” from November to February, Captain Hart said, as 300 people used the building on any given day. “For all of everyone’s care, things get knocked, things get scraped.” The RFS has used a $10,000 grant raised through comedian Celeste Barber’s Facebook fundraising campaign to refurbish the centre, and bring it up to its former glory. It came at the right time; the seven-year-old station was due for an overhaul. The brigade has also received other donations, allowing them to buy equipment (such as a blower used for fighting fires and clearing fire trails) and other creature comforts that have been on their wish list for decades. “For a brigade that always used to worry if we could spend a couple of hundred dollars, we’re now in a position where if we need it, we can get it,” Captain Hart said. “That’s all been through the generosity of the public purse. “The Celeste Barber campaign was fantastic – that certainly has been a total bonus for us – but the generosity of the public has to an awfully large degree matched if not gone beyond that.” Last summer’s fires were unprecedented because of their scale, Captain Hart said: all the way up the Great Dividing Range, in extreme drought conditions. Now the whole state has got rain – Major’s Creek, where Captain Hart lives, has had a metre of rain since the end of the fires – so the soil is moist. The bush, too, is thinner than it was, and will take generations to regrow. “There’s simply not the fuel load now, nor will there be for quite a long time in a lot of places,” Captain Hart said. “The reset button has been pushed. “I know the call is that fires will be bigger and badder, but if you’ve taken away 50 to 100 years’ worth of fuel accumulation on the ground, then the result can’t the same. They simply cannot be as hot if there’s not much fuel about.” With the fuels cleared away, and a change in the seasonal conditions, the RFS can undertake cool burnings. The general Braidwood district was burnt out in the summer fires; most of the timber has been cleared up, Captain Hart said, but they have not been able to do some of the hazard restriction burns they would like; there would be too little habitat left for the remaining flora and fauna. “There is the odd patch of timber and forestry that didn’t burn, and we may still have some fires – but will we see one on the same scale? I don’t think I’ll see anything like what we’ve seen ever again.” For more information, visit the RFS Braidwood Facebook page, or call (02) 6128 0600.

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Summer Glow Without The ‘Ow’

This summer you don’t have to worry about damaging your skin in the sun – instead, get that healthy glow all by yourself! Caribbeantan’s easy, streak-free application makes it the perfect self-tan range to do from the comfort of your own home.

So, get yourself ready for a proper pamper session, the results will be visible to all.

Step 1: Prep and buff

Start off by prepping your skin – either use Caribbeantan Cinnamon & Coconut Skin Smoothing Exfolia all over, or use an exfoliation glove. Pay close attention to dry areas, focusing on knees, elbows, feet and ankles. After rinsing off, moisturise those areas prone to being dry – ankles, feet, knees, elbows, wrists and palms – prevent them from soaking in too much colour when tanning.

STEP 2: Apply tan like a pro

Always protect your hands and use a tanning mitt to apply the product in even strokes. You now have a choice of two products:

  1. Tan in a can

This mist is so easy to use and it develops into a gorgeous bronze-looking seamless tan that develops and darkens over eight hours. Shake it first, then spray evenly all over the body, but go light on top of feet, ankles, knees and elbows. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water after application.

  1. Spritzer

The spritzer provides immediate colour, while the tan develops and darkens over eight hours. Use the mitt to smooth the product onto the skin in a circular motion. Apply the excess product on the mitt to your feet and then wash your palms with lukewarm water and soap.

Top tip: Wear a loose item or a large towel while waiting for your tan to develop – and a shower cap if you don’t want to wash your hair afterward.

All the gain without the pain – enjoy healthy, glowing skin this summer without putting your skin at risk of sunburn.

Grabs yours now at any Dis-Chem or Clicks pharmacies as well as online at Takealot, Zando, Superbalist, Loot, House of Cosmetics &

READ MORE ON: Sponsored

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Summer Snow Falls in Northeast Wyoming

Northeast Wyoming was covered in a carpet of snow on September 8, forcing road closures and causing power outages, according to local reports. A record daily low temperature of 31 F was recorded on September 7 by the National Weather Service office in Rapid City, South Dakota. It was the earliest freezing temperature since 1921. This clip from @iron67mike shows the Devils Tower area covered in snow. Credit: @iron67mike via Storyful

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A summer break – In England, reopening has not been the disaster many feared | Britain

AT THE START of June, when England took a big step out of lockdown, many observers were nervous. Dissenting members of the official Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warned the government that allowing people to mingle risked another flare-up. The new test-and-trace system, intended to squash outbreaks, had only just been established. Polling found that the public believed ministers were being insufficiently cautious.

The government’s decision to ease restrictions was a gamble, but one that has paid off. Following a small rise in July, the Office for National Statistics’ infection survey, which tests a sample of people in England and Wales each week, finds that the number of cases has since remained flat. Although there has been a gradual rise in the number of positive test results, much of this is accounted for by the fact that the number of tests has increased, meaning more asymptomatic cases are found and false positives recorded. Hospital admissions remain very low.

England has so far avoided the spikes seen recently in France and Spain, meaning it is now in a similar position to Germany (see chart). A recent study found that 6% of people in England have antibodies, which may offer some protection against the virus. There is huge uncertainty about the level at which herd immunity kicks in, but even London—where the study found 13% of people had antibodies—appears short of the most optimistic estimates.

The state has begun to do a better job at preventing covid-19’s spread. The test-and-trace system still has flaws, not least in the time it takes to get results from tests. But there is now a functioning system, which helps suppress the growth of cases, as do local restrictions where necessary. After a weak start, Britain is now a testing heavyweight. Over the last week for which there is data, it carried out 2.5 tests per 1,000 people, compared with 1.7 in Spain and Germany, and 1.8 in France.

Public caution has played a part in keeping cases down, too. According to Google’s mobility statistics, Britons are less likely to have returned to work than those in other big European countries; something the government, concerned by the economic implications, is now trying to change. John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and one of the dissenting SAGE members when restrictions were eased, notes that cross-country data imply “the release from lockdown has resulted in larger changes to at-risk behaviour [in Europe] than here.” It is unclear why this is.

With children returning to school and students to university, and people moving indoors as the weather cools, keeping cases down will soon become trickier. “I think although we’ve got a lot of testing going on, we probably don’t have anywhere near as much as we will need to manage the next month or so,” says Sir John Bell of the University of Oxford. There has been a worrying jump in cases in Scotland, and it will be difficult to avoid importing cases from parts of Europe that are currently seeing spikes, given the volume of summer travel. Removing restrictions went better than expected in England. That does not mean some will not have to be reimposed over the coming months.

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “A summer break”

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