What can you do at home or in the workplace to be more sustainable – to save energy, save money and reduce wastage at the same time?
Here are some easy to apply energy saving tips:
Air conditioning is the biggest user of energy in most homes, shops and offices. Increase your thermostat setting a degree or two higher – 25 degrees C is recommended by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Don’t leave your air conditioner on when no one is around. Cooling your home when you return to it costs a lot less than keeping it cool all the time. Taking these steps can save 10% or more on your energy costs.
Let there be air! Make the maximum use of natural ventilation by keeping doors and windows open whenever possible to let the air circulate and enjoy a cooling breeze.
You will be surprised how cool it is to use a fan instead of air conditioning. A fan uses less than 1/10th the electricity used by an air-conditioner. The electricity used by an air-conditioner is equivalent to the energy used by about 32 fans!
Turn off appliances and electronic devices that you are not using. Don’t leave televisions, stereos and computers on if you don’t need them. They produce heat and make your air conditioner or fan work harder.
Standby power costs money. Switch appliances off at the wall. Computers in sleep mode and other appliances on standby continue to use energy. Standby power can account for up to 10% of your home electricity use. Cut the standby power and save!
Boiling water for your tea or coffee? Only fill up the kettle with just the amount of water you need. The more water you use, the longer it takes to boil and it consumes more electricity or gas.
Use the microwave oven to heat up food and it also means you can reduce cooking time, which saves energy.
Purchase efficient equipment. Look for Energy Star office equipment, such as computers, printers and fax machines. They use less energy than older or standard office equipment.
Replace your incandescent lights/lamps with compact fluorescent or LED (Light Emitting Diode) light bulbs. They last up to ten times longer and use up to 75% less energy than standard light bulbs.
Use natural lighting. Open curtains and shades during the day instead of using lights. Where you can, consider skylights and solar tubes during renovation or new construction design. This allows the maximum use of natural daylight.
Plan your lighting. Not every room needs the same amount. Some strategically placed lamps instead of ceiling lights will do the job. A good lighting plan can reduce energy costs and still provide all the light you need.
Use a single, high-watt LED or compact fluorescent bulb, instead of several low-watt bulbs to save energy. Do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended wattage for the fixture.
Turn off lights. When not in use, even for short periods of time, it pays to switch off. Turning lights off and on uses less energy than if they are left on all the time.
After air conditioning, refrigerators are the second biggest energy users in most homes. Get the latest most energy efficient model which will save you hundreds of dollars on your electric bill over the life of the appliance. Older refrigerators and freezers use two to three times more electricity than the latest models.
Select the right size refrigerator for your family needs and don’t set the temperature colder than necessary. Set the refrigerator temperature at the recommended or medium level – usually between 2 and 5 degrees C.
Don’t get into hot water with your washing machine! In most cases, cold water does the job equally well. It works your water heater less and saves energy. Use hot water only when the greatest cleaning is needed.
Hang your clothes out to dry. Do you really need to use the electric clothes dryer? Use sparingly and if you do need a dryer, get one with an electronic sensor that shuts off the dryer when clothes are dry.
Save water and energy by spending less time in the shower. Install water saving devices. Use low-flow showerheads and reduce your hot water usage. Turn the water heater on for a short time before you shower and you’ll still get all the hot or warm water you need.
Make sure you have an energy efficient water heater. An “instantaneous” one is best as it heats up fast and uses less energy. Consider a solar water heater if you have access to a roof top.
Save energy and paper – and the trees – by printing less at home and the office. Print on two sides of the paper and use recycled paper whenever you can. Turn on your printer only when you need it.
You can recycle practically everything and use recycled items. When you buy a new appliance, ask if the retailer can take your old machine as trade-in or to recycle it. Electronic waste is a big problem. Don’t add to it.
Earth Hour. On 30th March this year everyone is encouraged to turn off their lights for an hour from 8.30pm. Singapore supports this global WWF campaign and many businesses will switch off their power for the night. You can too for one night and see how you can save energy more often.
Solar powered chargers are now available for travellers and people in remote places without access to mains power. A Singapore-designed device is used to charge an iPhone, iPad, or camera through USB ports, and also incorporates a torch light, reading light, radio and mosquito repellent.
The most energy efficient form of transport is a bicycle. Don’t use a bicycle just for recreation; use it to get around and go to work. More and more buildings in Singapore are providing facilities for cyclists – secure bicycle racks, as well as washrooms to shower, change and leave your gear.
Save energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels by using public transport, or by buying a fuel-efficient vehicle (either a hybrid or an electric car) and maintain it well.
Dishwashers can actually save water as compared to washing dishes through the sink using hot water. Running your dishwasher with full loads consumes the same amount of hot water and energy as smaller loads. So, run fewer loads to save energy and water.
Make a Smart Purchase by buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade as they use less than half the energy used by desktop computers. Remember to use your computer in its most energy efficient mode. Check your settings for power and light.
Don’t waste energy when no one is home to use it! Give your electricity bill a holiday as well. Make sure you turn off all appliances (except the freezer and refrigerator) when you go away. Double check that you haven’t left any lights on.
Once your mobile phone and other devices have been fully charged, remember to unplug them and turn off the power. You may have noticed that a charger is warm even when it is not attached to a mobile as it is still drawing power.