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Setting up your home

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ongratulations! You’re moving into your first house. But now what? How do you begin to turn those empty rooms into your home? This guide steers you through the essentials of setting up a new home – the

things you need to know, room by room, inside and out, that make your home modern, comfortable and low maintenance. We outline how CHOICE can help you save money, heartbreak and frustration with our uniquely unbiased, independent advice and helpful services. Setting up your home for the first time doesn’t have to be a daunting task. We take out some of the risk and guesswork, whether it’s knowing which washing machine has the lowest running cost or choosing the right home and contents insurance policy. We want you to create and enjoy your personal space with peace of mind.

matt Steen Matthew Steen Team Leader, Whitegoods


Contents call us today

How CHOICE helps


The advice and services we offer makes the difference 1300 360 655

between a good home and an amazing home

Services & insurance7

In the living room 14

Knowing your home is effectively powered, networked

How to watch and record your favourite shows

and insured is essential for peace of mind

effortlessly, in the comfort of a clean, climatecontrolled space

In the kitchen


In the study


Fridges, dishwashers and ovens – oh my! What you

Enjoy playing around with all your gadgets without

need to know about the room that will be the heart

getting bogged down by all the technical jargon

of your home

In the laundry 4


Around the home


Can you save money over time by buying a more

What about the stuff on your roof, down the side of

expensive washing machine up-front?

your home and in your backyard?

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How CHOICE helps

Services & insurance

Reliability survey CHOICE lab testing always

recommended that product to

rates performance and ease

buy in CHOICE magazine or

of use for new products, but

on based

we usually cannot test their

on our rigorous schedule

longevity. This is where

of testing.

our members come in – do products in our What to Buy

Shop till you drop

list perform better in the long

As a CHOICE member you get free

run? Could a Best Buy mean

access to our CHOICE Shopper

savings years down the track?

service. You select the $100+

And could a bigger purchase

product you wish to purchase and

price save on repairs in the

obtain a price from a retailer.

long run? This is why we

Then, call CHOICE Shopper on

Before you start filling up rooms with furniture, you’ll want

regularly survey members

1300 360 655 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

to ensure it’s properly powered, networked and insured.

asking them to share their

to tell them your member number,

experience of reliability for

the brand you’re after, model



a number of products.

number and price to beat. CHOICE

Before contacting a provider,

Thinking of ditching your

Shopper calls back to advise you

take a look at your overall

landline? Before you do,

CHOICE Recommended

of the best price they’ve been able

energy use and see whether

consider where you live,

CHOICE’s endorsement

to find. If you’re happy with that

you can become more energy

how many calls you make

scheme allows eligible


efficient to reduce your bills.

and where you call. If you’re

manufacturers to use


CHOICE’s 10% Challenge

a fairly heavy user of your

the exclusive CHOICE



home phone and internet –

Recommended logo. Where

places the

is all about simple tips that

and reliability is important

you see one in shops,

order for

will save you lots of money and

– keeping your landline can

you can be assured we’ve


let you help the environment.

make good sense.


call us today

1300 360 655

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248 words on this page + quotation


Services & insurance


The assurance of insurance

Internet If you’re picking an ISP for the first time:

• Compare speed, download limit and monthly costs for


to 80% of Australian homes are

so you

underinsured. This could mean

may not be

you’re out of pocket by tens of

covered if your

thousands of dollars or more

iron scorches your shirt or a hot

should your house burn down and

pot scorches the benchtop. For

you need to rebuild. Make sure

contents insurance, go through

you always read all parts of your

every room of your home and

policy document and be clear

estimate how much it would cost

about what you’re covered for.

to replace each item. Include

What you believe is covered in one

everything: commonly overlooked

a modem you purchase

section of the document may be

contents include crockery


explicitly excluded in another

and cutlery, bed linen, books,

• Find out the cost for equipment such as a modem.

• Ask if the ISP will support

of Australian homes are underinsured

a few plans on comparison

• Ask about billing cycles and

section. For example, fire damage

CDs, clothing and footwear.

sites such as phonechoice.

if you’re billed in advance.

is usually only paid for if there is a

And shop around. We found the or

• Check the length of any

• Find out the monthly

average differences between

data limit and if there are

premiums across Australia were

contract and whether there

separate peak and off-peak

$600 for home defined events

are any charges if you


policies, $830 for home accidental

terminate before it expires.

• Check the terms and

conditions for minimum charges during the contract.

• Enquire about any set-up or establishment fee.


Estimates vary, but some say up

• Check for peak and off-peak

damage policies, $270 for

usage times and any excess

contents defined events

usage charges.

policies and $400 for

• Find out if your service is shaped, or slowed, if you

contents accidental damage policies.

go over your data limit.

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In the kitchen The kitchen is increasingly


the centrepiece of many people’s homes, so it’s

Through our rigorous testing, we

important to get it right

reveal which espresso machines

from the start.

have the best temperature performance, are the easiest to use


and program and, most importantly, make the

A good rule of thumb is that

best-tasting coffee. We also test juicers, centrifugal and non-centrifugal,

two people need between

and find the latter in particular tend to perform well. And if you’re

250-285L of space in a fridge,

interested in a food processor, we’ve found that whether you choose a

and you should add 28.5

standalone processor or combination processor/blender will depend on

litres for each additional

how much storage space you have and what you want to use it for.

household member after that. Add freezer space on top of that. The bigger the



fridge, the more features,

If you’re limited by space or

Your new oven should be

the better the efficiency

renting, consider a slimline

reliable, easy to use and clean

per litre and the better

or a compact model. Slimline

and last through endless

performance. If in doubt,

machines are narrower than

hours of food preparation.

get the bigger fridge.Keep

a normal dishwasher and can

Most electric ovens these days

in mind that very large

be built-in or freestanding.

are multifunction, meaning

fridges of all kinds can be

Compacts are usually half

you can use a combination

difficult to get into the house.

the height of a standard

of top, bottom, grill and

Check the measurements of

dishwasher and they can be

sometimes rear elements plus

bottlenecks such as doorways,

placed on a bench or built in.

a fan to optimise different

hallways, staircases and lifts

There’s also a drawer option

cooking, baking and grilling

before you buy.

in the compact type.



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In the laundry

The per kilowatt figure we use to calculate 10-year running costs

Our 10-year running cost f igure is an estimate of how much it’ll cost you over 10 years for water and electricity Once you’ve set up your dryer:

• Ensure there’s adequate

248 words on this page + quotation

Top or front loader?

loaders often have fast-wash

Front loaders work by gently

cycles or options.

turning the washing over and

Deal of the decade Buying big-ticket items such as

ventilation or have it

washing machines is about

ducted outside. Humid

more than just the purchase

air circulating around it

cost. Our 10-year running cost

increases drying time and

figure is an estimate of how

energy costs.

much it’ll cost you over 10 years

• Only dry full loads. • Separate loads into heavy

for water and electricity if you wash the equivalent of one load

and lightweight – lighter

every day using a normal cycle.

clothes will take less time

The calculations are based

to dry.

on 22c / kWh for electricity and

over in a tumbling action, a


process that is quite gentle

We purchase the most

on clothes. This cleaning

popular clothes dryers on

use less energy because the

exclude depreciation and interest

action uses less energy (when

the market, bring them back

dryer is already heated, even

costs, as well as the cost of

washing in warm water) and

to our laboratories and test

if it has a cool-down phase at

detergent – people use different

water than a top loader and

them for six weeks. Models

the end of each cycle.

amounts and the price varies

can be more adept at handling

tested include electric

unbalanced loads. However,

vented, heat pump condenser,

each use to maintain full

also calculate 10-year running

often the wash cycle takes

condenser and gas-powered

airflow and maximise

costs for dishwashers, fridges

longer, though many front

clothes dryers.

drying efficiency.

and other big appliances.


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• Dry consecutive loads – you’ll

• Clean the lint filter after

$1.50 / 1000L for water. We

widely between brands. We


In the living room

Before you buy any cooling or heating system, first optimise the energy efficiency of your home

In our first CHOICE Guide we took you through setting up your home entertainment

Keep it clean You can’t go past a vacuum

system – one of many ways

cleaner that’s light, quiet and

we can help you out.

easy to manoeuvre over both carpet and hard surfaces, has

Watching & recording TV

a long cord so you’re not forever

If you prefer to watch shows

changing power points and has

on your computer rather than

a neat compact design for

on a TV, a USB TV tuner

easy storage. Like vacuum cleaners, steam

is a good option. They’re small, relatively inexpensive

mops come in stick and canister

and usually come with an

forms, but they don’t have suction

electronic program guide

power. If you need to clean up

(EPG) and software that

large amounts of spilled liquids,

allows you to program a

you’ll need a conventional mop or

• If you decide on installing

a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

recording. You can then watch

by insulating the ceiling and

on the computer screen or, if

walls, and draught-proofing

a central cooling or heating

They’re suitable for

you have a TV that connects

windows and doors — and

system, the right size and

most hard floors,

to your network, stream the

then calculate the capacity

design depends on a

including vinyl, tiles

video to the TV.

you need:

range of parameters and

and sealed timber.

should be determined

But are they really

• If you want to cool or heat

Heating & cooling

individual rooms with

by the supplier for your

that much better than

Before you buy any cooling

separate appliances, use

individual situation.

an ordinary mop and

or heating system, first

our cooling and heating

Central systems

bucket? Sign up

optimise the energy efficiency

capacity calculators

shouldn’t be bought

of your home — for example

available at

off the shelf.


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with CHOICE and find out!


In the study comes with a screen that’s

consider what features and

clear to read in all lighting

functions you need, and

conditions and does not cause

make sure the model you’re

eye strain. Also check eBook

interested in has them all. Go

stores to see what format the

to a shop and try it out. Check

books you want come in (the

whether you can comfortably

most common form is EPUB).

hold them and reach the main

Also note where the page-

controls (such as the zoom)

turning buttons are located,

at the same time, especially if

We test MFPs for ease of use, print speed, output quality, cost per page and running costs, including power consumption A desktop or laptop computer will likely be the focus of

as this has a big impact on

you’re left-handed — most of

long-term comfort.

the latest models are designed

this space. We regularly review both, but what about all

for right-hand use.


the gadgets that sync with it?

Want to be the next James


Digital cameras

video output, viewfinders,

Cameron? Think about which

In many cases you’ll pay

Before you buy a no-frills

shutter speed, focusing and

connections to your TV and

a little more up-front for a

compact camera or advanced

image stabilisation.

computer you’ll use, and

colour laser multifunction

make sure the model you’re

(MFP) printer but be much

SLR model, check out our advice on all you need to

eBook readers

interested in has them. Get

better off in the long term

know, including megapixels,

Look for one that’s portable,

all the necessary cables when

once running costs are

memory cards, batteries,

has a long battery life and

buying the camcorder. Then,

factored in.


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Around the home Your home is much more

Our testing has found smaller barbecues give excellent cooking results and can save you hundreds of dollars

than the sum of its furniture, appliances and whitegoods. What goes on outside its four walls is just as important as what goes on inside.

Hot water systems For many people, replacing an old electric hot water system


with a similar model is no

Before you buy a barbecue,

longer an option. Standard

think about the size you

electric systems produce about

really need. A large four

four tonnes of greenhouse

burner looks impressive and

gases per year (on average) – similar to an average-sized

Sucking up the sun

will do the job but it may be need to replace a working

much bigger than you really

car – and about three times

Installing a solar hot water

electric HWS, but if you

need and cost you more.

as much as gas or solar HWS.

system produces carbon-free

own a detached, terrace or

Our testing has found that

Electric HWS can’t be

energy and insulates you from

townhouse, and it currently

smaller barbecues not only

installed in any new detached,

rising coal-fired electricity prices.

has an electric HWS, you need

give excellent cooking results

terrace or townhouse, or any

Solar panels work best when

to consider a gas, solar or

but, depending on the brand,

such existing property where

they’re north facing, pointed

electric heat pump for your

may save consumers hundreds

there is access to piped natural

directly at the sun, at the correct

next replacement. Electric

of dollars as well. Keep your

gas (some exemptions apply).

angle and not blocked by trees

HWS are still available for

barbecue clean by scrubbing

From 2012, this applies to

or shading. The effectiveness

apartments and other homes

the plate and grill with a

all existing detached, terrace

of solar panels also depends on

where gas, solar or heat pump

barbecue brush and water

or townhouses. You don’t

where you live and the weather.

systems aren’t feasible.

while the plate is still warm.


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Setting Up the Home  

This guide steers you through the essentials of setting up a new home – the things you need to know, room by room, inside and out, that make...

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