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How to Save Energy to Save You Money and Help Save the Planet

Making small adjustments at home can save you big. Follow these tips and you might save enough for a pair of tickets to Paris.

Lighting

Opt for CFLs or LED lamps: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are just as bright but consume less energy than incandescent light bulbs. They also emit less heat, so your air-conditioner can function more efficiently and doesn’t have to work as hard to cool the room. For longer-lasting lamps, choose LED lights, which last at least 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Yearly savings: $200 (based on using 10 CFLs)

Make use of natural light: Light-coloured, loose weave curtains let more daylight in as opposed to heavy, opaque ones. Place tables and chairs near windows where there is natural light, and use lighter colours in your rooms as they reflect light. A home with dark walls and curtains would require more artificial lighting and light fixtures to illuminate it adequately. Yearly savings: $91 (based on using natural instead of artificial light in three rooms for five hours a day)

 

Water heaters

Go instant: When it’s time to replace your storage water heater, consider installing an instant one. It heats the specific amount of water you need, while a storage heater consumes more energy as it heats a larger volume of water. And, you can turn it on right before you shower instead of 10 to 20 minutes earlier with a storage heater. Yearly savings: $100 (based on switching to an instant heater)

Use a timer: “Households with storage water heaters…can save energy by installing a timer that automatically turns off the water heater power after a pre-set time,” says a spokesperson from the National Environment Agency. Yearly savings: $110 (based on using a timer instead of leaving the storage heater on all day)

 

Household Appliances & Electronics

More ticks for higher savings: “Major appliances, such as air-conditioners and fridges, account for more than 50 per cent of the energy usage in a typical household, allowing you to save the most energy by switching to more energy-efficient models.” Compared with using one-tick models, a three-tick refrigerator can save you about $75 a year, a four-tick dryer $90 a year and a four-tick air-conditioner about $420 a year, the spokesperson added. “A more energy-efficient appliance will pay for itself – lower monthly utility bills over the lifetime of the appliance will more than offset a higher purchase price.” Yearly savings: $585 (based on using a three-tick fridge, and a four-tick dryer and air-con)

Use laptops instead of desktops: They consume less than half the energy of desktop computers. Yearly savings: $117.70 (based on using two laptops instead of two desktops)

Use thermal cooking pots: These reduce energy usage by 80 per cent while pressure cookers can cut energy usage by 50 to 75 per cent compared with conventional pots and pans.

 

Air-conditioner

Set the temperature at 25 deg C: This is NEA’s recommended temperature setting. “Raising the temperature setting by one degree can save a household about $15 a year.” Yearly savings: $45 (based on raising the temperature from 22 deg C to 25 deg C daily)

Clean air filters monthly: A filter that is coated in dust and dirt hinders airflow and reduces the efficiency of the unit, causing it to consume more electricity.

Service at least once a year: This maintains the different parts like the pipes and motors, enabling it to run efficiently.

Put up partitions: If you have an air-con in your living room, set up partitions to separate it from the dining area so you can cool that space more quickly, and use less energy.

Set a timer: Control when your air-con turns off. For example, setting the timer so it switches off an hour before you get up means your room will still be cool – and you’ll be saving an hour’s worth of bills. Yearly savings: $137.40 (based on an inverter, multi-split system 4)

Use a fan: Switching to a standing fan instead of using an air-con could save you a hefty $790 a year. Yearly savings: $790

 

Laundry

Use a cold wash: According to NEA, the water heater function in your washing machine is unnecessary as the water from the pipes is warm enough for an effective wash.

Designate fixed laundry days: This means washing with a full load each time and doing away with extra washes during the week. Yearly savings: $4 (based on cutting an extra load every week)

Air-dry your clothes: Avoid using a clothes dryer. Instead, hang them out to dry on a drying rack or bamboo poles. Yearly savings: $117.80 (based on cutting out twice-a-week dryer usage)

 

Fridges

Choose one that fits your needs: Opt for a medium-sized refrigerator, if possible – it consumes less energy than a larger one. With a capacity of about 300-500 litres, it is suitable for a family of four. Also, be sure to pick one with three or four ticks. Yearly savings: $33.60

Store food in containers: This prevents your fridge from being overloaded, which can hinder air circulation and cooling. Cover foods, especially liquids like soups and drinks, which might release moisture and cause the compressor to work harder.

Keep a 5cm space around your fridge: This ensures proper airflow.

Position your fridge well: Place your refrigerator away from direct sunlight and make sure it isn’t too close to other heat sources like ovens and stoves.

Check doors and seals: If your fridge door opens very easily, it could mean your hinge is loose or the seal needs replacing. Get it fixed to make sure cool air isn’t escaping.

 

Switch off appliances

Remember to turn off appliances when they’re not in use, such as set-top boxes, desktop computers, ceiling fans, electric air pots and lights. “Leaving an air pot on for the entire day may cost you an additional $300 a year.” Yearly savings: $703.70 (based on turning off the abovementioned appliances, when not in use, for eight hours a day)

 

GRAND TOTAL SAVED IN A YEAR: $3035.20

*All savings amounts were provided by NEA or calculated using NEA’s Energy Audit app

 

SUPER SAVER

Florence Pang is a stickler when it comes to saving energy in the home. She’s managed to trim her energy bill by targeting energy guzzlers like air-conditioners and by switching to more energy-efficient appliances. “Often, when I find that the temperature at night is cool enough, I’ll ask my daughters to turn off the air-con to save energy and money,” says the 58-year-old housewife.

“A few months ago, I replaced all three of my less efficient air-conditioners – which were one-tick non inverter ones – with four-tick inverter models.” When it was time to get a new fridge, she chose a smaller, more energy-efficient refrigerator.

Florence also makes sure all the bulbs in her family’s five-room flat are CFLs. Every night before bed, she makes the rounds to turn off the main switch supplying her TVs, set-top boxes, desktops and radios. And the pay-off is definitely worth the trouble. Florence’s total savings? More than $1,300 a year.

 

By Priscilla Kham, Simply Her, July 2015

Photos: 123rf.com

 

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