Slash Your Utility Bills

Choose energy-efficient household appliances

THE appliances that heat or cool are the big energy guzzlers. The iron, kettle, water heater, refrigerators, and air conditioner use a lot more energy than appliances like radio, TV and lights. So anything that increases the efficiency of these appliances by even a little can provide significant savings.

A cheaper electrical appliances is not necessarily better than a more expensive model because your initial savings could be swallowed up by higher energy costs and shorter life-span of the appliance.
Of course, how you use your appliances also makes a big difference in how much energy they consume. Use small appliances where possible.
A pop-up toaster uses around half the energy of an oven. An electric jug that cuts out when it is boiled is the most efficient way to boil water.
Instead of leaving them on standby, switch off appliances such as television set

Chill your food efficiently

— Do not buy a larger refrigerator than what you need. Where possible, choose the most energy-efficient model.

— Place your refrigerator in a cool spot away from direct sunlight and the oven.

— Make sure there is enough space around the refrigerator for air circulation.

— Check the door seals or gaskets regularly for leaks by closing the door over a piece of paper. If you can easily pull it out, the seal needs replacing. A worn-out gasket can cause the motor to work extra hard to maintain the desired temperature.

— Do not set the temperature too low. A change of 1 degree Celsius can affect energy consumption by 5%.

— Do not open the door unnecessarily or for longer than necessary. Each opening lets in some warm air, which requires power to cool.

Cool down all hot or warm food before placing it in the refrigerator.

— Do not overcrowd your refrigerator. Otherwise the compressor will have to work harder to keep the right temperature.

— Leaving food uncovered in the fridge leads to more moisture inside. This will cause a frost-free fridge to work harder, and ice to build up in non-frost-free fridges.

— Defrost non-frost-free fridges regularly. Ice build-up means they have to work harder.

— Clean the condenser coils at the back of the fridge at least once a year. This makes for more efficient operation.

Wash your clothes better

— Select the size and type of washing machine you need. Look for energy and water efficient models. Front-loading machines generally use less water than top loaders.

— Dissolve powder detergent before you add them to the wash as this will make cold-water washing work better.

— If your washing machine has no adjustable water level for partial load, either wait till you have enough laundry to fill the machine or wash the few articles by hand.

— Group clothes by fabric and colour, and by how dirty they are.

Wash a whole load of lightly-soiled items on a shorter cycle, rather than adding a pair of overalls that need a heavier cycle.

Lighten up on lighting

— Good lighting does not just mean more light. It means the right amount of light at the right place, without glare or gloom. You can save electricity by choosing the right type of light fittings.

— Try putting lower wattage bulbs in hallways, toilets, bedrooms and wherever close work is not required.

— Compact fluorescent lamps are more expensive than a normal bulb that gives the same amount of light, but they should last up to 8 times longer and use only about one-fifth of the energy. So over their lifetime they should more than pay for themselves.

— Keep bulbs and fixtures clean. A barely visible accumulation of dust will lower the lighting level and may cause you to turn on more lights. Clean lamps regularly.

— Switch off lights that are not in use. Whenever you leave a room, turn off the lights behind you, even if it is only for a short time.

— Avoid dark colour schemes in your home. Bright coloured walls reflect light better so that fewer lamps or lower wattage lamps will be adequate for a given lighting level.

— Use white or near white shades for better light output.

— Use table lamps for reading or doing fine work rather than general high-level lighting.

Keep track of your household energy consumption

Every appliance has its power rating (in watts or kilowatts) stamped on its nameplate or given in the guarantee card or brochure. You can estimate the monthly running cost of an appliance as follows:

Number of units of electricity used per month
= (power rating in watts) multiplied by (estimated number of hours of usage per month) and divided by (1000)

Monthly running cost
= (number of units of electricity used per month) multiplied by (electricity tariff rate)

(The nameplate rating usually corresponds to the maximum consumption. Under normal usage, the actual consumption. may be slightly lower.)

The higher the wattage of the appliance, the greater will be the electricity used and hence higher running cost. You are advised to check the voltage rating shown on the nameplate. Voltages between 220-250 V are satisfactory.

Cook smart

— Plan your cooking schedule. Have your ingredients ready and within reach before turning on the gas flame.

— Thaw frozen food naturally before cooking to save cooking time.

— Use the minimum amount of heat. Once something has boiled, you can keep it simmering on the lowest possible setting.

— Keep lids on pots and match the size of the hotplate or flame to the pot you are using.

— Try not to open the oven door often. The average "peek" causes the temperature to drop by about 15 degree Celsius.

— Keep gas burners clean otherwise they cannot work well. 

Don't waste water

— Fix a dripping tap quickly. A drop of water per second adds up to a loss of 9,000 litres of water per year.

— Install a low-flow shower head to reduce water consumption during showers. Take shorter showers.

Fit or convert your toilet water cisterns to a dual-flush model. This can reduce the amount of water your toilet uses by up to 60%.

— Use a tumbler of water while you are brushing your teeth.

Do not wash your vegetables with the tap running; fill the sink instead.

— Do not water your plants in the heat of the day, or when it is very windy — much of the water will evaporate before it gets to your plants' roots.

— Soak the soil, do not spray the leaves — this encourages better root growth. A good soak every third or fourth night, rather than spraying water around every evening, is better for your plants.

— Use the run-off water from the washing machine to wash the floor.