Local household electricity usage up 17% over past decade

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and North West District Mayor Teo Ho Pin (far left) chatting with Yishun resident Charlene Ng, seven, at the Energy-Saving Challenge launch.
Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli and North West District Mayor Teo Ho Pin (far left) chatting with Yishun resident Charlene Ng, seven, at the Energy-Saving Challenge launch.PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Singapore's household electricity consumption has increased by about 17 per cent over the past decade, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday.

Households here consumed a total of 7,295 GWh (gigawatt hours) last year, which is the equivalent of each home spending about $1,000 a year on electricity.

A 2017 NEA survey of 550 households found that air-conditioners were largely to blame, accounting for about 24 per cent of the consumption of a typical home.

Refrigerators accounted for 17 per cent, while water heaters consumed about 11 per cent of electricity used.

Four in five households said cost savings would motivate them to take steps to save energy, but not if such measures inconvenience them.

For example, while 84 per cent of those surveyed agreed that using a fan instead of an air-conditioner would save energy, only 71 per cent did so, with the others saying they valued personal comfort more.

"The increase in electricity consumption could be due to greater adoption of household appliances and electronic gadgets," said Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Nanyang Technological University's Energy Research Institute.

While appliances such as refrigerators are required to be labelled according to energy efficiency, this may not have much of an impact, he said. He noted that people are likely to switch to more energy-saving appliances only when such devices need to be replaced.

One way to reduce energy consumption is by increasing prices, similar to the upcoming hike in water prices, he said.

In the long run, however, a behavioural change is needed.

"A personal commitment to sustainability has to be taught in the schools," he said.

As part of efforts to get people here to save energy, the NEA launched the second annual Energy-Saving Challenge yesterday.

The challenge, which will run from May to August this year, will award prizes to households here which manage to cut electricity use by at least 1 per cent.

Last year's challenge saw almost 7,000 participants achieving savings of about 330,000 kWh - the electricity needed to power 1,000 three-room Housing Board flats for more than a month.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, who launched this year's challenge, said cutting energy consumption will help reduce Singapore's carbon footprint as well as the impact of climate change.

As a low-lying island, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Local household electricity usage up 17% over past decade'. Print Edition | Subscribe