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It’s a different sort of Chinese New Year for families in Singapore in 2021.
With the Covid-19 outbreak still underway, not only are we unable to travel abroad during the long weekend or reunite with our loved ones based overseas, we can’t visit as many households or have our usual large gathering with the extended family.
For the Sim household, it’s definitely going to be one where the family practises safe visiting, visits only close contacts, and attends/hosts only one gathering each day.
“We usually go to my mum’s place for CNY,” notes Mr Sim Kiang Poo, 63, adding: “Especially with Covid-19 this year, we try not to visit too many people, just close family; maybe my wife’s friends will visit our home, that’s all.”
Increase in electricity consumption during festive months?
“Definitely,” says Mr Sim. As they’ll be staying home more this CNY, their aircon/fans will be switched on, the lights will be turned on, and there’ll be ample screen time be it the television or his two adult sons’ computers. And of course, as many shops will be closed, the family will be doing more cooking.
His household’s day-to-day activities such as laundry will see the washing machine consuming some power, as well as the storage heater when anyone takes a shower. There’s also the water kettle, chargers for devices, the router/modem to ensure everyone is connected to Wi-Fi… There are just so many devices that need electricity to run on.
Mr Sim says his family’s electricity bills used to be $160 to $180 per month. After switching to an electricity retailer, their bill went down to about $120 per month (savings of about 20-25%).
Smart tips to reduce electricity use
As a doting dad, Mr Sim had made it a point to inculcate good electricity usage habits in his children from young. Here are some of his tried-and-tested tips:
Switch on the aircon and wall/ceiling fan, but close all the windows and doors. Let the aircon run for about 1 hour or so, then turn it off and let the cool air circulate. This will last till morning, but for best results, buy a bottom-sealing strip for your door (online got a lot) so that the cool air won’t escape. And of course, set the aircon to 25 degrees Celsius.
Storage water heater
After 30 minutes, you can switch it off because the tank is already hot. No need to keep it boiling when you can save some energy (and money).
Yes, even these often-forgotten computer speakers (or any other peripheral devices) need to be switched off when not in use, or else they will continue to consume electricity. While many of us leave our computers on standby mode, it’s also best to power down the entire device if it won’t be in use for an extended amount of time (i.e. while you sleep).
Use energy-efficient appliances
Mr Sim is a big fan of energy-efficient appliances — both his aircon system (he has five fan coils units and two compressors) and refrigerator are “5-ticks” rated. He also changed his lights to LED lights five years ago, even though each light cost him $120 each (but it was worth it, as he saw some electricity savings and the LED is bright, not hot and lasts long).
Skip electricity guzzlers
Don’t get appliances such as the dryer, washing machine with hot water or dishwasher if there’s no need. He says: “Hang your clothes to dry normally, just hang them longer if no sun — will dry one! My friend uses a dryer, wow fantastic power, you dry, your bill goes up. And why do I need a dishwasher? Four people in my household, what is there to wash?”
Use only what you need
For example, only switch on the lights in the area of use. If everyone’s in their rooms, lights off in the hall. Even in the room, switch on the smaller lights, such as a reading lamp.
Says Mr Sim: “It’s important to save electricity, first and foremost, to reduce our household costs. Not just for ourselves, but you see ah, Singapore is an island with no natural resources so we must be mindful of what limited resources we have.”
How to monitor your electricity bill
The Sim household had an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meter, AKA smart electricity meter installed in January 2020. Since then, Mr Sim has been monitoring his electricity use closely via the SP Utilities mobile app, and is able to identify why a spike occurs.
He says: “Last time, I don’t know what caused the sudden surge but we won’t be able to pinpoint the exact reason. Nowadays, I can monitor my usage via an app — there is a graph of my usage with the time, so it’s very obvious when there’s a spike.
“If it occurs in the morning when my household is busy with laundry or when someone is bathing — yes that’s correct. However, if there’s a spike at 1am when everyone is fast asleep, then you’ll know something is wrong or not switched off.”
No smart meter? You can still be billed on your actual consumption
As meter readers will check on electricity usage once every two months, there tends to be some estimation in between (see image below). There may be some months with an estimation that is higher than, and other months, an estimation that is lower than your actual consumption. The difference between the estimated and actual amounts will be adjusted in your subsequent month’s bill after your meters are read.
How bill estimation works
Bill estimation is calculated by multiplying your average daily consumption (based on the last two meter readings) by the number of days in the month.
5 ways to submit your meter readings to SP Group
- SP Utilities Mobile App — download the app then go to “Explore” and select “Submit Meter”
- SP Utilities Portal — log on then go to “Usage” and select “Submit Meter Readings”.
- Email — send your meter readings or a photo of your meter to [email protected], ensuring the meter readings and your meter number are clear
- Automated Phone System — call 1800 222 2333 to submit your meter readings via the automated option
- WhatsApp — take a clear photo of your meter, with visible meter readings and meter number, and send to 8482 8636.
*Meter readings can be submitted for other utilities, such as water and gas, as well
Before his AMI was installed, Mr Sim used to send in his meter readings via the SP Utilities app to be billed on his actual consumption.
But my electricity bill still fluctuates! Here’s why:
According to SP Group, Singapore households’ electricity consumption typically increases from April through August. This is because the weather tends to be hotter in these months, and households use more electricity to power their fans or air-conditioners to stay cool.
For confirm-chop on point electricity bills, submit your meter readings via the SP Utilities app.