How to save money on your electrical bills and avoid other hidden fees

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Singapore electricity tariffs are projected to rise by about 8per cent for Q3. The average monthly electricity bill for families living in a HDB four-room flat is projected to increase by $8.25 excluding GST to $111.63.

Take a look at how this increase in electricity tariffs could potentially affect you and your family, and by how much:

Type of Premises Average Monthly Bill New Average Monthly Bill Average Change in Monthly Bill
HDB one-room flat $40.41 $43.64 $3.23
HDB two-room flat $52.80 $57.02 $4.22
HDB three-room flat $74.90 $80.88 $5.98
HDB four-room flat $103.38 $111.63 $8.25
HDB five-room flat $120.35 $129.95 $9.60
HDB executive flat $147.38 $159.14 $11.76
Private apartment $160.17 $172.96 $12.79
Terrace $243.87 $263.33 $19.46
Semi-detached $334.13 $360.79 $26.66
Bungalow $660.66 $713.99 $52.73
Average $118.87 $128.36 $9.49

Why has the electricity prices in Singapore risen by so much across the past year or two? How am I able to save on my utility bill? Are there any schemes or rebates I can claim from the government to offset my utility costs? Read on to find the answers to all of the above questions.

Why are my electricity bills rising?

Reasons such as higher energy costs due to rising global gas and oil prices that are further exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, high and sustained inflation, and global economies recovering from a post-pandemic slump are cited as the main drivers for the recent increases in Singapore’s electricity tariffs.

We have seen global oil prices skyrocketing due to the moratorium on purchases of Russian oil by the EU and US. Unfortunately, 95 per cent of Singapore’s electricity is generated using natural gas - a derivative of crude oil itself, and will continue to be the dominant fuel source in the near future, according to Singapore’s Energy Market Authority.

With no signs of the moratorium on Russian oil exports being lifted anytime soon, Singapore energy costs will continue to be at the mercy of global oil price movements. So what can we do on our end to limit the impact of increasing electricity prices?

Ways to save on utility bills that you never knew

Here are some ways we have identified for you to limit the impact on increasing electricity prices and save on your monthly utility bill.

Open Electricity Market (OEM) retailers

OEM retailers offer highly competitive electricity plans in a bid to gain higher customer retention and greater market share. Here are some of the best fixed price electricity plans we have identified for you. For more information on the best OEM retailers and plans, check out our curated list over here.

Best fixed price electricity plans in Singapore

  • Union Power: Complimentary Home Contents Insurance for 12 months (coverage up to $5,000) underwritten by HL Assurance Pte Ltd
  • Geneco: Use promo code GENECO80 to get S$80 off bill, limited sign-ups only
  • Union Power: Complimentary Home Contents Insurance for 12 months (coverage up to $5,000) underwritten by HL Assurance Pte Ltd
  • Geneco: Use promo code GENECO80 to get $80 off bill, limited sign-ups only

Fixed-price electricity plans in Singapore are a great option for those that want to lock in their electricity rate and avoid the uncertainty of rate changes. For this reason, the average 6-month plan tends to be the cheapest option as it is the shortest guarantee of fixed pricing.

For a six-month plan Sembcorp's "6M Fixed Price" plan charges the lowest rate, at 27.10 cents/kWh and Union Power's "Union Saver 12" is the best 12-month plan at 19.55cents/kWh. Regarding longer-term plans, Geneco's "Get It Fixed 36" is the cheapest 24-month plan, at 26.80 cents/kWh.

By choosing these retailers, consumers can save about 32.6 per cent compared to SP Group's rate, which on average amounts to $276.84 in annual savings.

Credit cards

Credit cards are a great way to earn cashback from your monthly utility bills. Check out our carefully curated list of credit cards that offer the best cashback and best for monthly recurring bill payments.

UOB One Credit Card: Best rebate card for stable spenders

Apply Now Apply Now UOB One Card offers great cashback rates (up to 10per cent) for consistent spenders looking to earn cashback on everyday essentials. Read Review

  • Pros
    • Good fit for budgets of at least S$2,000 per month
    • Easy cashback on daily spend
    • Gives rebates for paying bills
  • Cons
    • Doesn't fit high budgets or low/inconsistent budgets
    • Annual fee
  • Annual fee: $192.60 (first year- waived)
  • 5 per cent rebate on general spend, up to $200/quarter ($2,000 min spend) with min five transactions/mo
  • Up to 10 per cent on Grab, Shopee, Dairy Farm Singapore & select UOB travel, 1 per cent on utilities bills
  • 3.33 per cent rebate, up to $100/quarter ($1,000 min spend)
  • 3.33 per cent rebate, up to $50/quarter ($500 min spend)
  • 0.03 per cent rebate on all spend if no rebate earned for calendar year
  • Up to 21.15 per cent savings at Shell and 22.66 per cent at SPC

UOB One Card than with any other flat rebate card. Spend at this level earns 5 per cent cashback, up to $300/quarter–amongst the highest earning potentials on the market. This rate is further boosted to 10 per cent on Dairy Farm Singapore transactions,

Grab and UOB Travel and 6 per cent on electric bills. Lower or inconsistent spend also earns 3.33 per cent up to $50 or $100/quarter (depending on minimum spend), but these rates are slightly less competitive.

If you consistently spend $2,000/month, you’ll earn more withthan with any other flat rebate card. Spend at this level earns 5 per cent cashback, up to $300/quarter–amongst the highest earning potentials on the market.

This rate is further boosted to 10per cent on Dairy Farm Singapore transactions, Grab and UOB Travel and 6 per cent on electric bills. Lower or inconsistent spend also earns 3.33 per cent up to $50 or $100/quarter (depending on minimum spend), but these rates are slightly less competitive.\

One of the best features of UOB One Card is that cardholders can ‘double’ their rebates through UOB SMART$ Programme, which also earns SMART$ credits with select merchants, which then offset future purchases.

With UOB One Card, consumers can make the most of their daily spend, while only paying a $192.6 annual fee. Overall, this card is the best flat rebate option on the market for average spenders.

Apply Now Apply Now UOB One Card offers great cashback rates (up to 10 per cent) for consistent spenders looking to earn cashback on everyday essentials.

  • Pros
    • Good fit for budgets of at least $2,000 per month
    • Easy cashback on daily spend
    • Gives rebates for paying bills
  • Cons
    • Doesn't fit high budgets or low/inconsistent budgets
    • Annual fee
  • Annual fee: $192.60 (first year- waived)
  • 5 per cent rebate on general spend, up to $200/quarter ($2,000 min spend) with min five transactions/mo
  • Up to 10 per cent on Grab, Shopee, Dairy Farm Singapore & select UOB travel, 1 per cent on utilities bills
  • 3.33 per cent rebate, up to $100/quarter ($1,000 min spend)
  • 3.33 per cent rebate, up to $50/quarter ($500 min spend)
  • 0.03 per cent rebate on all spend if no rebate earned for calendar year
  • Up to 21.15 per cent savings at Shell and 22.66 per cent at SPC

UOB One Card than with any other flat rebate card. Spend at this level earns 5per cent cashback, up to S$300/quarter–amongst the highest earning potentials on the market.

This rate is further boosted to 10 per cent on Dairy Farm Singapore transactions, Grab and UOB Travel and 6 per cent on electric bills. Lower or inconsistent spend also earns 3.33 per cent up to $50 or $100/quarter (depending on minimum spend), but these rates are slightly less competitive.

If you consistently spend $2,000/month, you’ll earn more withthan with any other flat rebate card. Spend at this level earns 5 per cent cashback, up to $300/quarter–amongst the highest earning potentials on the market.

This rate is further boosted to 10 per cent on Dairy Farm Singapore transactions, Grab and UOB Travel and 6 per cent on electric bills. Lower or inconsistent spend also earns 3.33 per cent up to $50 or $100/quarter (depending on minimum spend), but these rates are slightly less competitive.

One of the best features of UOB One Card is that cardholders can ‘double’ their rebates through UOB SMART$ Programme, which also earns SMART$ credits with select merchants, which then offset future purchases.

With UOB One Card, consumers can make the most of their daily spend, while only paying a S$192.6 annual fee. Overall, this card is the best flat rebate option on the market for average spenders.

OCBC 365 Card: No-Fee Rebates on Essentials

While OCBC 365 Card offers great cashback on everyday essentials, unlike its competitors, it has a relatively high cashback cap (S$80/mo), a simple rewards structure and fewer merchant restrictions. 

  • Pros
    • 6 per cent rebate on dining, 3 per cent on groceries, transport, recurring bills, online travel
    • Fee waiver with $10,000 annual spend
    • Up to 22.1 per cent fuel savings at Caltex, 20.2 per cent at Esso
  • Cons
    • 0.3 per cent rebate on general spend
    • High $800 minimum spend requirement
  • Annual fee: $192.60 (automatic two years fee waiver with min annual spend of $10,000)
  • 6 per cent rebate on local, overseas dining & online food delivery
  • 3 per cent rebate on local, overseas and online groceries
  • 3 per cent rebate on land transport, utilities (telco and electricity bills) & online travel
  • 5 per cent rebate on petrol (up to 22.1 per cent fuel savings at Caltex and 20.2 per cent with Esso)
  • 0.3 per cent cashback on all other spend
  • Visa Concierge Services

OCBC 365 Card offers a great no-fee way to earn cashback on daily purchases. Cardholders earn up to 6per cent rebates on dining and 3 per cent on groceries, land transport, online travel bookings and recurring electricity and telco bills.

There are no merchant restrictions (unlike competitors) and rewards are capped at a lofty S$80/month. Another perk is that cardholders can enjoy a fee waiver with S$10,000 annual spend – that's just S$833/month. This spend level also meets minimum spend requirements, ensuring top rewards rates. Overall, OCBC 365 Card is definitely one of the best everyday options with a fee-waiver.

Offers a great no-fee way to earn cashback on daily purchases. Cardholders earn up to 6per cent rebates on dining and 3 per cent on groceries, land transport, online travel bookings and recurring electricity and telco bills.

There are no merchant restrictions (unlike competitors) and rewards are capped at a lofty $80/month. Another perk is that cardholders can enjoy a fee waiver with $10,000 annual spend – that's just $833/month. This spend level also meets minimum spend requirements, ensuring top rewards rates. Overall, OCBC 365 Card is definitely one of the best everyday options with a fee-waiver.

While OCBC 365 Card offers great cashback on everyday essentials, unlike its competitors, it has a relatively high cashback cap (S$80/mo), a simple rewards structure and fewer merchant restrictions. Read Review

  • Pros
    • 6 per cent rebate on dining, 3 per cent on groceries, transport, recurring bills, online travel
    • Fee waiver with $10,000 annual spend
    • Up to 22.1 per cent fuel savings at Caltex, 20.2 per cent at Esso
  • Cons
    • 0.3 per cent rebate on general spend
    • High $800 minimum spend requirement
  • Annual fee: S$192.60 (automatic two years fee waiver with min annual spend of $10,000)
  • 6 per cent rebate on local, overseas dining & online food delivery
  • 3 per cent rebate on local, overseas and online groceries
  • 3 per cent rebate on land transport, utilities (telco and electricity bills) & online travel
  • 5 per cent rebate on petrol (up to 22.1 per cent fuel savings at Caltex and 20.2 per cent with Esso)
  • 0.3 per cent cashback on all other spend
  • Visa Concierge Services

OCBC 365 Card offers a great no-fee way to earn cashback on daily purchases. Cardholders earn up to 6 per cent rebates on dining and 3 per cent on groceries, land transport, online travel bookings and recurring electricity and telco bills.

There are no merchant restrictions (unlike competitors) and rewards are capped at a lofty $80/month. Another perk is that cardholders can enjoy a fee waiver with $10,000 annual spend – that's just $833/month.

This spend level also meets minimum spend requirements, ensuring top rewards rates. Overall, OCBC 365 Card is definitely one of the best everyday options with a fee-waiver.

Offers a great no-fee way to earn cashback on daily purchases. Cardholders earn up to 6per cent rebates on dining and 3 per cent on groceries, land transport, online travel bookings and recurring electricity and telco bills.

There are no merchant restrictions (unlike competitors) and rewards are capped at a lofty $80/month. Another perk is that cardholders can enjoy a fee waiver with $10,000 annual spend – that's just $833/month. This spend level also meets minimum spend requirements, ensuring top rewards rates. Overall, OCBC 365 Card is definitely one of the best everyday options with a fee-waiver.

GST U-Save vouchers + additional utility rebates

If you are a homeowner of a HDB flat, you are most probably already receiving the rebates from the GST U-Save vouchers.

Eligible Singaporeans households will automatically receive the U-Save rebates on their utility bills. There is no registration process or call for action involved to receive this payout.

Singaporean households will need to meet the following criteria to be eligible under GSTV - U-Save:

Households must have at least one Singaporean as the owner, occupier, or tenant of the HDB flat Household members cannot own more than one property

If the U-Save rebate is higher than your actual utility bill for the month, the unused portion will be rolled over to next month’s bill.

In addition, as part of the new $1.5 billion support package announced in 2022, all Singaporean households will receive $100 worth of utility credits, including those staying in private properties, which is to be disbursed by September 2022.

Refer to the table below to check how much GSTV U-Save rebates you are eligible for:

Apart from the GST U-Save vouchers, the government also has enhanced the GST Voucher Scheme, Household Support Package (HSP) and Assurance Package (AP) to help citizens to offset the cost of living due to rising inflation. The payouts from the above schemes can also be used to pay off your utility bills. Check out our article over here to see what you are eligible to receive and how much.

Potential hidden costs

Understanding how to save on your utility bills is important, but learning how to avoid hidden costs is equally as important. Here are some potential hidden costs that you could already be incurring:

1. Administrative fees

Some retailers charge an administrative fee for processing your application and for using their services. Make sure you read the fact sheet and are aware of what you're paying.

2. Auto-Renewal Clauses

Check if your contract is an auto-renew or non-auto-renewal electricity plan. To avoid renewing your contract with a lousy rate, make sure you are aware of when your contract expires and cancel your plan before it is too late.

3. Transmission loss factor

When electricity is delivered to your home, a percentage of electricity is lost along the way. Some electric retailers could factor in the loss, causing you to pay for more power than what your meter records.

Currently, most retailers absorb the transmission loss factor (TLF) to stay competitive, but this can change anytime. Double-check with your electricity retailer's website or fact sheet before signing the contract.

4. Carbon tax

For power-generating companies (direct emitters of greenhouse gases), the carbon tax is $5 for every tonne of emissions until 2023. From 2024 onwards, the carbon tax rate will increase exponentially up to $25 per tonne, $45 per tonne (2026 and 2027), and $50-$80 per tonne by 2030.

Some power plants (and the retailers they work with) may pass this cost to consumers. For a typical four- to five-room HDB flat, the carbon tax should be around $0.60 to $0.80 monthly.

5. Early termination charges

Different retailers have different pricing mechanics for penalty fees. Some charge a fixed fine, others a variable amount. Make sure to check with your retailer on the early termination charges to know what you are in for.

Summary

Reducing your electricity consumption directly is the most straightforward method to lower your electricity bill.

However, if you are unable to do so, there are many other ways to cut down on your electricity bill - including finding a cheaper electricity retailer and earning a higher cashback on your utility bills with credit cards. Alternatively, pursuing other means of energy such as solar power could be another viable call of action; although harder to implement for the common people.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.