Couple tech, education to manage electricity consumption

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) and 16 organisations are testing the effects of shifting electricity use to off-peak periods ("Trials to shift usage to off-peak hours"; Oct 25).

Other than cost savings attained from reducing strain on the electrical grid during periods of high demand, a demand management model, like the one being piloted, may also reduce energy consumption as a whole, as higher costs deter consumption.

According to data from the World Bank, Singapore's electricity consumption per capita in 2013 was 8,840kwh, more than double the world average of 3,104kwh.

While a portion of this can be explained by Singapore's relatively technologically advanced state, we can still reduce our consumption of electricity.

Thus, the pilot is a good starting point for Singapore to work towards this goal. If results are positive, the EMA could consider expanding it not just to other schools and government agencies, but also to households.

This could be coupled with the launch of the mobile application that allows households to monitor utility usage ("Utility usage data via mobile app?"; Oct 25).

Notifications could be built into the app to inform users about a surge in prices for electricity. This allows more judicious use of power.

While efforts such as the pilot are commendable and may reduce electricity usage in the short run, there is still a need for a softer approach to the multifaceted problem of excessive energy consumption.

Education is a powerful tool that we can and should utilise to teach the young about the importance of reducing energy consumption.

It is only with technology coupled with education that we will see lasting impacts on the consumption patterns of Singaporeans and subsequently, positive impacts on the environment.

Foo Weng Siang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2016, with the headline 'Couple tech, education to manage electricity consumption'. Print Edition | Subscribe