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Here's how to keep utilities bill low even as power tariff goes up

Here's how to cope with the 9% increase from now to December

Electricity tariffs will be rising by about 9 per cent compared to the July to September quarter, which places it at 21.43 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) - before the 7 per cent goods and services tax - from now till December.

For families living in four-room HDB flats, this means an average monthly increase of $7.01 to your electricity bill.

However, according to industry regulator Energy Market Authority (EMA), the electricity tariff changes apply to only 53 per cent of households powered by SP Group at the regulated tariff.

Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to both slash your utilities bill - especially now that most of us are still working from home and using electricity more - and save the Earth. Here's how.

Consider the open electricity market

If you have not made the switch to an open electricity market supplier, or at least compared the various plans, it is time to do so. Otherwise, you could be missing out on a cost-saving opportunity.

Right now, there are 12 electricity retailers in Singapore, and most offer a selection of three price plans: Fixed price plans, fixed discounts plans and Discount Off Regulated Tariff (Dort) plans. The models work differently, but could potentially shave between 25 and 30 per cent off your current bill.

Switch off the lights and air-conditioning

This one is a no-brainer but one we are all guilty of. Making a trip to a nearby coffee shop for a quick lunch while working from home or leaving your bedroom to watch TV in the living room? Turn the switches off. Doing it once or twice probably would not make a dent in your bank account, but they will all chalk up to considerable savings in the long run.

Unplug appliances and devices

There are electricity suckers in your home that are guzzling your household budget - your desktop PCs, Wi-Fi routers and television sets that drain energy even when switched off thanks to standby power mode, or "ghost load". Slay these energy vampires by unplugging them, or for a fuss-free alternative, get a power strip so you can remotely turn off all connected outlets with the flip of a switch.

Don't put hot food in the fridge or leave the fridge door open

Ideally, you should leave hot food to cool before putting it in the fridge. Putting hot food directly in the fridge leads to condensation, which prevents the appliance from cooling properly.

When you are mulling over which snack to go for, you might want to keep the refrigerator door shut as keeping it open allows warm air to enter and raise the overall temperature. The fridge then expends more energy to cool your food items. And while you are at it, check that the door seals are in good condition. If the door is not sealed tight, it will let warm air in too.

Don't blast the air-con

If you need to huddle under thick quilts or wear a sweater, the temperature's likely turned on too low, and this guzzles more electricity than you would think. According to electricity retailer iSwitch, an optimal temperature would be 25 deg C.

Change your air-conditioner filters

Dust, mould and other air pollutants can accumulate if you are not cleaning your air conditioner's filters regularly, which means the air conditioner has to work doubly hard to push cold air through. Check on the filters at least once a month and clean or replace them if needed. This will help in reducing your electricity bills, as well as in maintaining a longer-lasting unit.

Switch to energy-efficient appliances

Whether you are looking to replace an old appliance or furnish your new place, look out for energy labels when you are shopping.

Many appliances, from refrigerators to air-conditioners and television sets, now come with an energy label that displays how energy-efficient each product is as well as its life-cycle cost. Go for those which have more ticks (which means they are more energy-efficient), which will help reduce your household bills as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Use LED bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs

If your lighting fixtures are still running on incandescent light bulbs, it is time to make the switch to LED bulbs. Not only do LED bulbs use less wattage (and up to 85 per cent less electricity) while producing the same amount of light, they have a longer lifespan too. LED bulbs may be pricier, but you are likely to save more on your electricity bills. For further savings, go for ones which can be dimmed via a mobile app or physical switch when needed.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly (www.womensweekly.com.sg).

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