How to be a Cool Parent in 2020

Generation Z are by far the most political generation we have seen yet. Thanks to the internet, they’re more informed then any generation before them and they’re not letting go of what they know. A lot of people from preceding generations are quick to judge and assume they’re too young to know what’s best. Assuming that their actions come from a place of entitlement won’t change their mind and it certainly won’t help us move forward as a collective.

This is an important time to listen to what our children are saying and not dismiss them. If you listen closely, and put aside your judgement, I think you’ll find that their panic isn’t coming from a place of entitlement. They are concerned about their future. Here are some tips if you want to be able to connect with your kids and understand what they find ‘cool’.

Be more sustainable

Climate change is one of the biggest topics at the moment that fills our newsfeed and drives our conversations. We are becoming more aware of our impact on the planet and so are our children. Most of us can agree that large scale changing like reducing investment in new coal are going to make the biggest difference. However, it doesn’t mean we should discredit the small environmental changes we can make as individuals.

Generation Z have an advantage on the rest of us. They are growing up in a time where plastic bags have been banned and most people carry a keep cup. There’s no denying that its easier for them to implement these habits as they’re not reversing years of learned behaviour. But this shouldn’t excuse us from continuing to make choices that we know are detrimental to our planet.

If you want to be in with the ‘cool kids’, you should actively be trying to decrease your environmental footprint. I’m not suggesting you stop driving your car and make your own cleaning products. Just start thinking about the small ways you can be more sustainable. For some easy tips, check out our blog 5 Ways to be More Sustainable Right Now.

Keep up with technology trends

Keeping up with technology trends can seem like an impossible task. If you feel like there’s a new trend or technology every week, you’re not alone. On average, 6,140 new apps are released every day.[i] Now, I’m not suggesting you look on the app store in ‘new releases’ every day to keep up, but it might pay to know the ones your kids are likely to be on. It’s important to remember that there are multiple different apps that do the same thing and your kids could be on one or all of them. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common apps and categories used by kids in 2019:

Messaging Apps (WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat, Viber, GroupMe, Jott, Tango, Facebook Messenger)

The days of text messaging are over. People don’t even exchange numbers anymore, they just add each other on Facebook or one of the above apps. These apps enable messaging, group chats and video calling.

Photo Sharing (Instagram, SnapChat)

We live in a world where young people seem to document everything. They take pictures of their lunch; their outfits and they watch entire concerts from behind their phone. Instagram is the most popular photo sharing app which works a lot like Facebook. SnapChat is the one you might not be familiar with. SnapChat is a self-destructing photo sharing app. Meaning that you can send photos and messages to people and they will automatically delete, never to be viewed again.

Video Apps (TikTok)

TikTok is probably the biggest new app for young people. However, this app is not new. TikTok was formally Musicly and allows people to upload self-made music videos. I’ll be honest, I’m out of my depth with TikTok, it’s probably the first app or trend that has come along that has made me think “I don’t get it.” Essentially, people create videos which trend and then others recreate them. The kids say it’s “fun.”

Reassess your political views

We are in a completely different political space then what we were 20 years ago. Kids are very political these days and they have good reason to be. They’re living through climate strikes, Me Too, Trump’s impeachment and a refugee crisis. With the click of a finger they have access to unlimited information about any political issue. The biggest issues facing young people are mental health, the environment and equity and discrimination.

Millennials and Gen Z are often labelled ‘Snowflakes’. They’re made fun of for being sensitive and always needing an award for everything. What we’re forgetting is that these kids are the future and the world we’re creating now is the world they’re going to live in. Change is difficult but sometimes it’s for the better. I think it’s time for us to admit that living with sexism, racism and discrimination wasn’t an ideal world and we shouldn’t shame our children for wanting a future free from it.

They don’t teach us about politics in school and I think what most of us did was follow suit. Our parents were liberals, so we voted liberals. Kids these days don’t just do what their parents do. They research and find out who will stand up for what they believe in. I think we can learn something from them and instead of ticking the same box we always do; we should really think about what we value.

Kmart is cool now

Kmart has certainly boomed in the last few years with people young and old flocking for the bargain prices and ridiculous variety. I remember being a teenager and being very dramatically devastated by the thought of having to buy anything from Overflow. As much as I was being a drama queen, the variety of discount stores back then is not comparable to what’s on offer at Kmart and Big W now. I think kids these days are much more willing to buy almost anything from Kmart. Whether its clothes, toys or accessories, it’s not “shame” to shop at Kmart.

I have no doubt that kids still obsess over label brands. I’m sure at least one person that reads this will have a teenager that won’t accept anything less than a backpack from City Beach. But I do believe kids are more willing to buy discount products. I especially think this is true when they start working and spending their own money.

Let’s be honest, if you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ll unlikely be the coolest person in their eyes. Teenagers are mini adults, rushing with hormones just trying not to explode. The best thing you can do is just try and connect with them. Learn about what they care about and try to work out their why. If all else fails, you can always just be the goofy parent that they find embarrassing and all their friends find hilarious.



Are You Getting The Most Out of Your Solar System?

From time to time we get enquires from customers that have had solar installed and aren’t seeing a change in their bills. While solar systems can fault and we take these enquires seriously, a lot of the time this is due to a usage issue. There are a few things you should remember after your solar is installed. Solar is a marvelous thing but it’s not always as simple is putting it on the roof and forgetting about it.

Are you following the Feed-in tariff rules?

The first and probably most important thing is understanding your feed-in tariff (FiT). Depending on where you live and who your energy provider is, your FiT will vary. If your solar was installed before 2013 and your FiT is 44c/kWh or above, then you should export your solar energy. Customers with significantly high FiTs like these are better off using all their power at night and exporting their energy because they receive more in credit than what they would save.

If your system was installed after 2013, then your FiT will be somewhere between 7c/kWh – 20c/kWh. If this is the case for you then you need to be using as much of your solar as possible. That’s because what you could save by using the solar (between 25c/kWh – 50c/kWh) is more than the credit you would receive for exporting the energy.

The variance between your electricity rate and FiT are different across locations but the general rule of thumb is DO NOT EXPORT. Remember that for every kWh you export, the difference between the grid rate and FiT is what you are losing. Let’s look at some examples:

Location Electricity Rate Feed-in tariff rate Difference
Regional Queensland 28c/kWh 7c/kWh -21c/kWh
South East Queensland 25c/kWh 10c/kWh -15c/kWh
Adelaide 34c/kWh 12ckWh -22ckWh
Melbourne 28c/kWh 12ckWh -16ck/kWh


Are you using Timers?

Most new appliances have inbuilt timers. This means you can set your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer to run in the middle of the day while you’re at work and your solar production is at its peak. If you’re not at home during the day then this is one of the best things you can do to maximise your solar.

If you have electric hot water, when you purchased your solar system, your sales representative should have suggested you purchase a hot water timer. This marvelous little device will use your solar to heat your hot water system which can account for 30% of your energy bill.[i] If you don’t have a hot water timer, I recommend contacting your local Master Electrician to purchase one and have it installed. Remember, this is a large part of your energy bill! To learn how to change your hot water timer, click here.

If you have a pool, then you know your pool pump is also a huge energy user. The average swimming pool costs between $800 and $1,200 a year to run and can account for 17% of your electricity bill.[ii] If you haven’t already, you need to purchase a timer for your pool pump so that you can set it to run when your solar is at it’s peak.

If you have electric hot water and a pool, you could be covering up to 47% of your total electricity costs with your solar by using timers. That’s not including timers on your appliances or the energy you might be using in the morning and afternoon.

Did you double your energy usage after install?

A common thing that people do after installing solar is start using their energy like there is no tomorrow. Just because you have solar doesn’t mean you can run every light, appliance, fan and air conditioner 24 hours a day. Your system would have been sized to suit your usage so remember that unless you opted for a larger system, your system capacity is paired to your current usage. It’s also important to remember that your solar won’t work at night. Having solar installed isn’t going to help the four air conditioners you’re running at 19 degrees from 8PM – 5AM every morning.

Is your system clean and free of shade?

Like your car, your solar system needs to be cleaned. Debris on your solar system affects its production. For peak performance, we recommend having your solar system checked an cleaned every 12 months. It’s important to remember that debris on one panel will affect the production of all the panels on that string. That means that if one of your panels is shaded or covered in bird droppings, it will affect the production of all the panels in that string. You should also be vigilant of shading. Remember that trees grow and while your system may not have been shaded when it was installed, it could be now. Make sure you’re trimming trees around the home which might affect your solar production.

Solar is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. It not only saves you money but also reduces your carbon footprint. But it’s important to remember that its’s not a magic wand that will make you energy bill disappear. Like anything good in life, it requires a little work. The more proactive and conscious about your usage you are, the better your results will be.

[i] How much of your Electricity Bill is for Hot Water?

[ii] Swimming pool electricity usage explained

[iii] Solar Feed-in Tariff com