The Star Malaysia - Star2
Cut your burden
Learning how to reduce energy usage within your home means being kinder to your pockets and the environment.
ELECTRIC bills can be a big burden on household expenses – and high energy usage is not kind on the environment either.
The big energy eaters in a home are air conditioners, refrigerators, electric kettles, water heaters, ovens and steam irons. Contrary to popular belief, lights do not consume a lot of energy, forming only about 20% of household electricity usage.
We learnt how to cut our energy use at the Energy Savings Workshop conducted by the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (Cetdem) last month in Petaling Jaya.
When setting the air con’s thermostat at 16° C, remember that every degree drop equals to a 10% increase in energy consumption, said Cetdem executive director Anthony Tan.
Why burn your pocket by setting near freezing conditions with your air con only to huddle up in thick blankets? It’s better for your electric bill (and the Earth) if you set a higher temperature and sleep with thinner clothing (or even none at all!). An electric fan also cools you down by evaporating sweat from your body and it consumes far less electricity than an air con.
Shade is also a great way to cool down your house. Plant more leafy trees or install awnings or louvres so that the sun does not bake your windows and walls. You can also use solar tinting films (like that on car windscreens) on your window panes.
A lot of heat can also come through your roof so it’s worth thinking about installing insulation there to create a cooler (cave-like) environment in your house.
Nowadays, electrical appliances come with energy saving elements, such as inverter technology.
“Such equip- ment consumes about 30-40% less energy than those using conventional technology. It is ideal for cooling equipment such as the fridge and air con,” he said.
“Savings can be done by doing small things. Start small, once you see accummulated positive savings, then look at changing other things,” said Tan.
“Find out where wastages are happening. For example, if a particular light is being used for long hours, is that necessary? If it has to be used, try to reduce the wattage by using LED bulbs,” he added.
Tan also recommends that households change their electrical equipment to ener- gy-saving ones if such equipment is getting old.
“A fridge that is 10 years old is due for a change because the compressor and other components are outdated and not as energy efficient.
For air cons, I would say, after five to 10 years, they need to be changed as well,” he said.
Small steps towards saving
Some easy steps to reduce energy consumption without incurring any cost are:
1. Air conditioner – increase the thermostat setting (between 24-26°C is recommended)
– reduce the blower speed – reduce the number of air con units used at any one point in time
– use a fan together with the air con, or after switching off the air con
– reduce the times you open and close the fridge doors
– don’t overstuff your fridge; ensure adequate air circulation within
– at the same time, don’t leave too many empty spaces inside the fridge; fill it up using empty containers or boxes to prevent cold air from escaping when opening the fridge door
– set the temperature according to the load within
– if you can insert a normal-sized piece of (A4) paper through the fridge door, it means there is leakage of cold air from the unit
– clean your fridge regularly
– iron clothes in large batches rather than heating up the iron multiple times for just a few clothes each time
– minimise usage of steam if using a steam iron
– when setting the heat level, start from low to high
– or don’t iron at all, just wash and drip dry
– use a gas kettle instead of an electric one
– a thermopot, which is usually on 24 hours a day, will constantly reboil water once the temperature falls below a certain point.
It’s better to boil water once a day and then keep it warm in a thermos flask
– reduce the number of light fixtures in the house, you can change the position of your lights to achieve this
– use energy efficient light bulbs like LEDs
6. Washing machine
– use only when load is full; half load washes use the same amount of electricity – handwash light or small pieces of clothing
– separate lighter materials from heavier ones. A full load of lighter clothings such as shirts and innerwear weighs less than that of denims, jackets and linen.
Tan encourages people to do their own energy audit at home.
The first step is to compile a list of household appliances and record the operating or usage hours and wattage (W).
Calculate total usage (kWh) and the costs. Then identify the equipment that consumes the most energy (either through high wattage or high duration of use). Come up with a plan to reduce energy consumption realistically.
Check your next electricity bill to confirm the reduction. If there are new patterns or items of consumption, take note of it, and make the necessary adjustments.