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Fair Go: Wednesday September 12

Published: 6:16PM Wednesday September 12, 2012 Source: Fair Go

Cockroach chaos
Hannah Wallis
Are you covered if vermin get into your appliances or electronics?
This is a warning about one of the most loathed creatures we've ever come across.  No, not one of Fair Go's usual rat-bags or nasties. But vermin, none the less! We're talking about cockroaches - and they can cost you dearly.

Lance Edwards and Rangi Ward from Tauranga built a new house late last year and had heat pump installed. In June, they noticed it wasn't working. They called the installer, who found a cockroach had shorted out the electronic control board in the outdoor unit. The bill? Around $1000 - and they were horrified to discover it wasn't covered by the manufacturer's warranty or by their household insurance. Experts tell us the problem is not uncommon. We found a good, cheap solution - spray a pest deterrent - and we look at the types of habitats that cockroaches love.

Power prices
Gordon Harcourt
The power company penalising frugal users
This is a new one for us - it's about a bloke who says his power company is penalising him for not using enough power.

Kevin Hartley was a loyal Powershop customer. Their low user tariff - where you pay less per unit for using below a certain amount of electricity - was perfect for him. He's a greenie - turns all his electronics off at the wall when they're not in use, and even turns the elements off early when he's cooking. So he was appalled to get an email from Powershop advising him his bill was going up - because it was increasing rates for all low users to cover the fixed costs of lines and meter charges. Powershop said it could no longer sustain the current level of discount for low users - but their low user prices remain lower than their standard prices. 

Mould.. and how not to tackle it
Ali Mau
What does it really take to get rid of mould?
New Zealand's wet winter has left many of our houses with a smelly, unpleasant problem - mould. It could be worse than just an unsightly inconvenience. It's now becoming clear that some forms of mould are toxic to susceptible people (the very young or very old, those who have asthma or suppressed immune systems) and can cause respiratory illnesses. The commercially available mould removers make some big promises, but do they really work? We talked to a microbiologist and a commercial cleaner, who show us just how dangerous mould can be, and why they never use bleach-based products.

Going digital
Gordon Harcourt
Do you need a new aerial for the digital switchover?
A few weeks back we told you about the upcoming digital switchover - and what you need to do to be ready. This month Hawke's Bay and the West Coast will be the first regions to go digital - the analogue TV signal will be switched off. We didn't mention aerials - so here's what you need to know from Greg Harford, national manager for Going Digital:
Check whether your existing aerial works before buying a new one. In some areas, indoor aerials may work.
Depending on where you live, and how you currently watch TV, you may need a new rooftop aerial or satellite dish. If you're in one of the main centres that can receive a digital signal from terrestrial transmitters, then you can watch digital TV using a UHF aerial. If you live in an area without this option - or if you prefer satellite television - you'll need a satellite dish and service such as Freeview satellite or SKY.
Your existing aerial may work, but if you have any problems, contact a service person for technical advice.  In some cases, the UHF service may not be available if the signal is blocked by trees, buildings or electrical interference.
There's more information here:
New aerials should cost around $95-$125 plus installation.

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