In the midst of the recent debates over the global issue of climate change, the concept of energy and water conservation should not be a surprise topic for any Singaporean, young or old.
Indeed, there has been an increasing number of campaigns and movements dedicated to saving energy and conserving water that you would have to be living under a rock to not notice that caring for the environment is important.
We spoke to an expert, Mr Marcus Tay, the Sustainability Manager at IKEA Tampines last week about the topic, and he provided some simple tips that may help you and your family cut down on water and energy usage (as well as reduce your water and electricity bills while you're at it).
1. Getting the right curtains or blinds
Did you know? A household can save up to $1.25 a month for each degree adjusted upwards on an air conditioner.
To keep the house cool on hot days without turning up the air-conditioner, Mr Tay suggests putting up blinds with special designs, such as a honeycomb structure, which can trap air and act as an insulator. This can help keep the heat out, and the cooler air in.
2. Use an induction cooker
Another tip provided by Mr Tay is to use an induction stove over the traditional gas stove.
The way and induction stove works involves having an electric current running via a coiled wire below a glass surface. When a metallic object such as a pot or pan is placed above the stove, an electromagnetic field is created, causing the metallic area to heat up.
What this means is that only the areas in contact with the glass panel are heated up, and the heat is also kept at a constant level, as long as the current remains constant. A gas stove on the other hand relies on an open flame, which means plenty of heat will be wasted on the ambient surroundings, which will ultimately result in inefficient use of electricity and energy.
3. Turn off energy vampires at night
Another commonsensical fact we are all aware of is how whenever we turn off the television using our remote, it is never really off. The same goes for our desktop PCs, and Wi-Fi routers. Throughout the night, the household may no longer be using any of these devices, but that does not stop them from drawing on standby energy.
One suggestion is to use a power strip, which remotely turns off all connected outlets with the flip of a switch. Another method is to use a timer for even greater convenience, so that you will not need to go out of your way to turn off these devices.
4. Use a mug while brushing your teeth
People are often either too lazy, or not thoughtful enough to think about the running water being wasted while they brush their teeth. Yet the fact is that leaving the water running for just two minutes while brushing your teeth uses up to 12 litres of water.
Both PUB and Mr Tay suggest using a mug instead while brushing your teeth. Doing so only uses about 0.5 litres of water, which is 11.5 litres of water saved. That's almost eight 1.5 litre bottles of water. Bet you never thought of it that way.
5. Make the change to LED lights
Perhaps it's time to make the change from incandescent light bulbs or Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs to LED bulbs if you have not already done so.
LED bulbs, especially those that are ENERGY STAR rated are able to use at least 75% less energy as compared to conventional light bulbs. LED bulbs are also known to last up to ten times longer than traditional incandescent lights.
Enlightened yet? Here are other tips we've found that could shave a few dollars (or cents) off your monthly utility bills.
6. Keep your fridge cool
Every time a fridge door is opened, cold air escapes the refrigerator and some hot air comes in as well. The fridge therefore has to expend more energy trying to regulate the temperature back to its original coolness.
In order to counter this, you could keep the fridge as full as possible at all times. If there are simply not enough items to fill up your fridge, empty closed containers or jugs of water may be used as an adequate substitute to help regulate the temperature inside the refrigerator and minimise temperature fluctuations.
Or maybe just don't open your fridge door so many times.
7. Use lids on pots and pans while cooking
Whenever possible, one should cover up the pots and pans with lids while cooking. This way, the heat will remain trapped, allowing the food to be cooked quicker and more efficiently, without heat escaping into the air.
Doing this may even help keep your kitchen cooler while cooking!
8. Cold water to wash clothes
It should be a no-brainer to deduce that using warm water while washing clothes in a washing machine (for the uninitiated, some units do provide that option) results in considerable energy being spent heating up the water. Yet it remains a fact not many of us think about.
With the technology we have today, there are very few reasons why we should still be using warm water to wash our clothes. According to consumer reports, heating accounts for 90 per cent of the energy needed to operate a washing machine, and using cold water instead of warm water can save your family up to $82 a year.
Furthermore, using cold water is actually better as compared to using warm water in many cases. For example, colder water prevents fabric dyes from running, helps prevent the shrinking of clothes, and will not result in stains being set into the clothes, which will happen if you use warm water.
Of course, there are many considerations to think about when using cold water to wash your clothes, such as the type of detergent to use. For more information, click here.
9. Cut the duration of your shower
We get it, sometimes taking a nice long hot shower after a long day of work is the closest equivalent you can get to an hour-long massage at a luxury spa. Doing this once in a while would probably not hurt too much, but do keep in mind that the average 10 minute shower uses up about 90 litres of water, according to PUB's findings.
To put things into perspective, the average amount of water used in a bathtub hovers at around 80 litres. This means if you take a 10 minute shower, you would actually be saving water if you were to take a bath instead.
10. Add a dry towel to your load of clothes in the dryer
This tip is slightly less well known: whenever you dry a load of wet clothes in the dryer, adding a large dry towel into the load will help the load dry more quickly, hence reducing the time the dryer is left on, saving energy.
Watch an actual experiment of this handy energy saving hack here.