With global warming making people feel hot all around us, sunny Singapore is not spared from the heat.
This is a time where many households tend to chalk up hefty utility bills as we turn up the air-con to keep our homes and ourselves cool.
Given the rate of global warming by the El Nino phenomenon which has caused a severe heatwave in Northern Malaysia, it seems that we are in for a prolonged dry period.
To help you save money on your electricity bills, here are 5 ways how you can cut your electricity consumption yet keep cool at the same time.
Tip No 1: Making Optimal Use Of The air-con
Our Founding Father once said that the best invention of the 20th century is the air-conditioner.
Indeed, what would life be without the air-con, especially in sunny Singapore?
Prudent use of the air-con happens when you use it only when you need it, and turning it off to conserve energy when not required. Alternatively, to control the usage, set the timer to auto switch off.
Making optimal use of your air-con requires a good understanding of how the unit works. Remember how hot air rises and cold air takes its place?
Well, you should turn on the air-con at least half an hour before you spend time in the room. Leave the door open for a short while to flush out the hot air, before closing it.
That way, you will facilitate the ventilation or circulation of cold air in the room, and the compressor of your air-con unit will not have to work so hard to cool down the entire room.
You should also ensure that the fan coil is properly maintained by cleaning it every 3-4 months, especially if you are a daily user.
Chemical cleaning is recommended at least once every 1.5 to 2 years, depending on the condition of your unit.
Lack of maintenance will result in poor performance (and higher electrical usage) as well as a reduced life span of your air-con unit.
Tip No 2: Understanding How The Body Keeps Cool Before The Air-con
On a hot sunny day, most people who stay at home will reach out for a cold drink. However, scientific research has shown that our bodies will cool down faster if we drink something like lukewarm tea.
Our body’s sweat glands function as a cooling system, upon stimulation by lukewarm fluid, work more effectively to cool down our body, rather than through drinking something cold.
Most people will also be dying to turn on the fan or the air-con on a hot day. Well, you don’t always have to do that. Find a comfortable and clean spot in your house, lay a clean large towel over it, and lie down to rest (on a pillow if you like).
You should be able to feel a lot cooler than if you are sitting or standing. Again, it is based on the same rationale that hot air rises and cool air takes its place.
Tip No 3: Visiting Nature
Why not spend some time with nature, given that most of us are such seasoned city dwellers? Living in a concrete jungle, you will find that a lot of heat is trapped by concrete during the day.
So make it a point to visit the great outdoors. That way, you will not be consuming more electricity at home.
We are fortunate that in Singapore, urban planning has provided for greenery throughout our island. There are small parks scattered throughout housing estates and that is a good place to start.
Walking amidst the trees and other plants, one will find that it is actually cooler than staying at home, as the natural greenery provide shelter from the sun’s rays and help to displace heat.
And for goodness sake, admire the scenery and smell the flowers. It is the small things in life which makes life interesting. Who knows, you might catch sight of squirrels, some interesting flowers, birds and insects.
The more adventurous can go to our Botanic Gardens, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The best part? Admission is free.
If you must insist on air-con comfort during your excursion in greenery, there is always the renowned Gardens by the Bay.
Entrance fee discounts are available for elderly folks, as well as locals who are holding eligible cards such as Passion/NTUC/SAFRA cards or credit cards from the local banks.
Gee, I always wished I could grow those exotic-looking Venus Flytraps in my home.
Tip No 4: Keeping Cool In Shopping Malls
Now we know a lot of people are milling around in our shopping malls, and no, it is not just on weekends.
You can enjoy the air-con inside the mall while window shopping and have easy access to facilities such as banks, eating outlets, libraries, game arcades, cinemas etc.
It is also a great place to meet friends and update yourself on the latest fashion, all the while cooling off without incurring electrical charges at home.
Because it is likely to be a crowded place, do take care of your belongings and exercise civic consciousness, such as being gracious to the older folks who may need that public seat more than you.
Tip No 5: Spend Offline Time With Family & Friends
In this day and age, much of our free time at home is spent watching TV or on online and e-activities, such as playing with our smart phones, iPads and other mobile devices.
This may cause you to unconsciously incur higher electrical bills, not to mention exposure to radiation.
Don’t forget that all mobile devices do emit a small dose of radiation, and certainly not so desirable for our general well-being.
Why not go green and invest your time in some activities which can bring people together? Board games such as Monopoly, Cluedo, Risk etc can let you have fun with family and friends, while fostering interpersonal skills and bonding.
If nothing else, it could be a fresh change from the routine of spending time and electricity on our mobile devices.
Should you be staying by yourself, you can always pick up some reading material of interest, or do mind teasers such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku.