Thanks (or no thanks) to the Covid situation, you’ve probably noticed a rise in your utility bills as the whole family has been spending more time at home. This means you’re tapping on a lot more water and electricity, especially if you have multiple people plugged in to work from home.
Here are some practical tips to save on utilities at home now (and for the long run), without living in the dark and melting in the heat.
Conserving the amount of water you use at home isn’t just good for the environment, it can also cut down your water bill.
The Singapore government’s water saving kit consists of a set of thimbles with three and four holes, to allow residents to have greater flexibility in regulating their tap’s and showerhead’s flow rates.
According to PUB, you can cut down on your utility bills by up to five per cent with the water saving kit.
This is absolutely free of charge, and you can request one here.
If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned the filters on your air conditioners, they might be clogged up with dirt. This makes it difficult for the cold air to come out, and your air-conditioners will use more energy (and time!) to cool the room to the temperature you’ve set.
Make a habit of cleaning the filter once every month or two. You don’t have to hire a repairman to help you – in fact, it’s so easy you can do it yourself. Air-con.sg has a handy guide on how you can clean your air conditioner here.
To save more energy, set the timer to switch your air-conditioner off halfway through the night. You’ll be asleep anyway and wouldn’t feel much of a difference. Of course, using a fan instead of the air conditioner can definitely help you to cut cost. If the weather is not too hot, use the fan instead.
It’s convenient to use an electrical kettle to boil water or a dryer after washing your clothes. But these appliances use up serious amounts of electricity.
Use a kettle over a stove to boil water and opt to hang your clothes out to dry if the weather is good instead. It might be slightly less convenient than simply flipping a switch on electrical appliances, but you’ll see a difference at the end of the month when your bill arrives.
When shopping for appliances, remember to look out for the number of ticks on their Energy Label Ratings so that you choose the most energy-efficient one for you.
Now that Singapore has an open electricity market, you have the ability to choose the best electricity provider plans for your household usage. The open electricity market site also allows you to compare prices so you can pick the most suitable price plan for your needs.
You can find out more here.
Compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lights and LED bulbs consume less energy. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), up to 90 per cent of the energy consumed by traditional bulbs is emitted as heat instead of light. For LED bulbs, most of the energy is released as light so they require less energy to emit the same amount of brightness.
Most modern devices will come with “sleep” or “hibernation” mode, which helps to greatly reduce power use without having to switch off the gadget entirely. This is great for items like your work computer. Go to the device’s menu settings and you should be able to find it.
To save even more, consider unplugging appliances and other electronics when you’re not using them. Unless it’s something like your refrigerator, there is no reason to leave devices plugged in when you’re not using them. For instance, unplug the gaming console when your child is finished with it, and switch off the extension cord once your devices are fully charged.
These “energy vampires” can really suck more money than you realise.
Are you using the same broadband, cable or mobile subscription from more than four years ago? You’re most likely ripping yourself off. The subscription plans from a while ago are a lot less worthwhile than the current plans in the market.
Review your current plans for broadband, cable and mobile. And if you decide to make a switch after your contract is up, do sufficient research and compare prices across different providers before deciding on one.
You could also check if your family is eligible for a subsidised plan for faster internet under the government’s Home Access Scheme.
Singaporeans spend more time watching shows online than on TV, so you might want to rethink your cable subscription. With streaming services like Netflix, Viu, Hayu and more, it might be more practical to switch to these instead.
Now that there are more streaming services available on our shores, you can watch all your movies and TV shows at your own pace, plus extra content that is only available on those platforms. Instead of paying hundreds a month for cable, a streaming service can cost less than $20 a month.
For example, the basic plan for Netflix Singapore is only $11.98 per month. Do some research on which streaming platform suits your watching habits and save on your cable subscription cost.
We’re no longer in the 1990s where we depend on landlines for calls. People who need to reach you can easily call or text your mobile phone. If you want to save on talk time on your mobile, get connected to Wi-Fi and call your friends on Telegram, WhatsApp, FaceTime or Zoom.
If you use your smartphone as a point of contact almost exclusively, it could be better to cancel your landline and save that extra money.
Some cash rebate credit cards in Singapore reward you with cash rebates when you use them to make payments. You get even more cashback when you create a recurring bill payment option with them.
Some cards to consider are the UOB One Card, HSBC Visa Platinum and OCBC 365 Credit Card.
Front-load washers are designed to continuously lift and drop your clothes from and into water, much like handwashing. Top-loaders, on the other hand, fully submerge clothes in water during the wash cycle, and so require more water than front-loaders. If you’re worried you might miss out on washing some items after starting your front-load washer, there is now a solution with Samsung Add Wash washing machine that lets you add clothes even during mid-cycle.
Can’t take the heat? Make the switch to a heat reflective paint, like the Dulux Weathershield KeepCool exterior paint. It’s designed to reflect a significant portion of solar radiation off building exteriors, which reduces heat build-up in its interior. In turn, it diminishes the power consumption of your air conditioning unit as well as carbon dioxide emissions. Also use low- or zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds that release harmful gases) paints.
There are a number of benefits to installing specialised solar films in your windows. These films are designed to evenly disperse natural light, and reduce the effects of the sun, including the reduction of ultraviolet rays and glare, and bringing down the heat. They also help keep furnishings from fading so you don’t have to replace them as often.
Another way to keep your home cool is as easy as installing blinds and curtains, and keeping them closed during the day when you’re out. The Altex SecureZIP smart blinds ensure no gap between the fabric and its side channels for extra protection against UV rays and glare, and is ideal for outdoor spaces like the balcony or patio.
Place your fan at the right spot if you’re renovating your home, position your fans strategically for better ventilation and airflow. Good ventilation means that fresh air circulates in your home, distributing heat evenly and reducing the need for air conditioning.
And speaking of fans, check the direction of your ceiling fan – to get a direct downward draft, your fan should be spinning counterclockwise as you look up at it. This pulls the cooler air down.
This seemingly pedestrian chore can have a big impact on the earth. Conserve water and energy by running full loads for each cycle. And if for some reason you need to run a smaller load, turn on the washer’s “small load” or “eco” setting if there is, which uses less water and electricity.
A fancy rain shower adds a touch of luxury to your bathroom but its voluminous stream of water increases the likelihood of higher water usage. But if a rain shower is at the top of your dream home wishlist, get your bathroom outfitted with one that’s water-efficient, like Hansgroshe’s Crometta Overhead Shower 160 1jet EcoSmart 9 l/min. It injects air into the water stream for a heavier spray without actually requiring as much water.
When purchasing a new WC, consider investing in one that has a built-in sink. The sink uses clean water that is meant to fill the cistern, so you can save water when washing your hands.