Welcome to 2014, the year of rising costs! Not only has the New Year started off with a public transportation rate hike of 3.2%, but inflation is expected to hover around 2%-3% for the rest of the year. Ah, I also forgot to mention that the current energy tariff rate of 27.45 cents (w/GST) per kWh is set to expire this March. And my guess is that rate isn’t going anywhere but up.
So if your New Year’s resolution is to save more money than last year, 2014 is looking about as bad as The Last Airbender (a film I walked out of). But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you can reduce the shock of rising living costs by making changes to your biggest energy wasting activity –trying to keep cool from the Singapore heat! You may not realize it today, but making a small change to your energy habits or purchasing some energy-saving solutions can benefit you well into the future.
I’m not promising that the following suggestions will be pleasant, but they sure as hell will save you money in the future:
1. Clean Your Air Conditioner Filters Monthly
When is the last time you (or anyone) cleaned the filters for your air conditioners? If your response was a cough, mumble, or a blank stare… you should start doing it – monthly! Clogged filters make it harder for air conditioners to blow out cold air, which wastes more energy because you’ll end up setting your A/C’s thermostat to the lowest possible setting to stay cool.
It’s not too difficult to clean your filter. In fact, you can find a variety of tutorials on YouTube for your particular single split air conditioner model.
One final tip, while you don’t need to rinse out your filter (vacuuming should be sufficient to remove dirt and dust if it’s not too dirty), if you do, make sure it’s dry before you put it back – because damp filters tend to develop mold and mildew. And you don’t want that blowing out of your air conditioner!
2. Use Your Air Conditioner’s Timer Setting When You Sleep
At 1000W or more, your air conditioners probably contribute more to your energy bill than anything in your home… unless you’re running a 24-hour bitcoin mining operation or you’ve got a cinema-quality A/V setup.
How much energy does your AC suck up?
If you’re running just one air conditioner 8 hours a night for a year (let’s use the Daikin model RN50JV1G as our A/C), you’re going to spend roughly $1,186 dollars annually*
But if you use the timer setting on your air conditioner and program it to shut off after 4 hours, your bill drops to just $593 annually*. And if you program it to shut down after 2 hours, your bill drops to $296 annually!*
*Note: Calculations taken from the National Environmental Agency (NEA) energy cost calculator.
3. Use Your Electric Fans More Often
When it comes to keeping your home cool, fans are something of an afterthought compared to the breezy coolness provided by your air conditioners. Chances are you’re probably using fans in a supporting role to circulate cool air through your home.
But if you give your electric fans a bigger role in keeping your place cool, you’ll see your energy savings will increase tremendously.
Let’s say you currently use your 1200W single split air conditioner about 12 hours daily (4 hours when you get home and 8 hours when you go to sleep). At the end of the month, you’ll end up paying about $118.57 (w/GST) for using just ONE air conditioner*.
But if you use your air conditioner for 6 hours daily and run a 50W box fan for 12 hours instead, you’ll end up paying about $60.02 per month (w/GST)*. That’s almost a 50% savings in your electricity bill!
*Note: Calculations taken from the Singapore Power electricity usage calculator.
4. Invest in Window Tint
If you’re lucky enough to live in a flat or condo that’s not in the direct path of sunlight, fantastic – you can skip this tip. But if 8+ hours of direct sunlight is turning your home into a hotbox, you should definitely consider investing in window tint.
For one major reason – window tint eliminates most of the heat (70%-90%) and 99% of UV rays that pass through your windows during the day. After all, it’s the heat that’s making you blast your air conditioners up to 12 hours daily. Less heat = less A/C usage = lower electricity bills!
Now there are two ways to go about this. You can either A) pay around $500+ for a local company to install the window tint or B) buy the window tint and installation materials yourself and pay 50% less for a DIY job.
Of course, it’s much cheaper if you buy your tint and installation materials from the U.S. using Amazon and VPost (unless you know a cheaper local source that you’d like to share with everyone?).
As for installation, I’m not going to lie to you – it will be tedious work and you’ll need one of your drinking buddies to help you out (preferably when he’s sober). But the job should be much easier if you follow this YouTube tutorial on the window tint installation process.
Final Note: Aside from buying and installing window tint, every one of these tips require little or no extra cost to save. But even if you spend a few hundred dollars on buying window tint, that expense can definitely be recouped with the money you’ll be saving by following tips 1-5.
What else can you do to save energy this New Year? Share your comments on Facebook!