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Energy-saving pointers

GENERAL TIPS

* Switch off and unplug electrical appliance when not in use. Standby mode consumes about 20 per cent of the energy needed to run the appliance.

* Consider replacing old appliances. A 10-year-old model can use more than three times the energy of newer models.

* Paint rooms in light colours. It aids reflection of available light.

* When shopping for appliances, consider two price tags. The first one is the purchase price. Think of it as a down payment. The second is the cost of operating the appliance over its lifetime - you'll be paying it every month through your utility bill for the next 10 to 20 years.

* Clean all appliances regularly. Dirt build-up forces the equipment to work harder to maintain its output, which then consumes more energy.

* Refer to energy rating labels when buying electrical goods. Products are labelled from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most energy efficient. Currently only refrigerators are labelled. This label is produced by the Energy Commission under the Energy, Green Technology, and Water Ministry. It is not mandatory for manufacturers to label products.

* Don't waste water. Wasting water wastes electricity because the biggest use of electricity in most cities is in supplying water and cleaning it up after it has been used.

* Place wood or cupboards against walls, especially those heated by direct sunlight. Wood acts as an insulator, therefore reducing the heat coming into the room.

LIGHTING, COMPUTER AND TV SCREEN

* Switch to tube fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights indoors. These lights cost more than incandescent bulbs, but use only 1/4 of the energy and last up to 10 times longer.

* Use natural light. Draw open curtains in the morning for natural lighting.

* Use desk lamps where most light is needed, so less lighting is required for the rest of the room.

* Use laptops or flat screen computers. A laptop computer uses up to 30 per cent less energy than desktop models.

FREEZER AND REFRIGERATOR

* Keep the refrigerator stocked at least two-thirds full and freezer three-quarters full. Cover liquids and wrap foods. Uncovered food and empty refrigerators take more energy to cool.

* Do not open the deep freezer or refrigerator door too often. Think ahead and plan what you need to take out. Opening the door often allows cold air to escape, causing more energy needed to maintain the fridge temperature.

* Defrost fridge and freezer regularly. An iced-up freezer works harder, therefore using more energy. Many new models come with defrosting elements.

* Don't put warm or hot food into the fridge. The fridge has to work harder to cool it, always allow food to cool down first.

* Don't place refrigerators near heat sources. Keep them away from direct sunlight and don't place them beside a stove. Leave some space around the fridge; don't lean it against the wall.

KITHEN, BATHROOMS, LIVING ROOM

* Iron large batches of clothing at a time. This avoids wasting energy the iron heats up.

* If you use a washing machine regularly, consider buying a front-loading model. It is 15 per cent more energy efficient and uses 40 per cent less water compared with top loading models.

* Fully-load your washer each time. An extra wash means extra power usage.

* Boil only the amount of water you need in a kettle. Excess water heating is a waste of electricity.

* Switch off the fans when you are not in the room. A fan only removes heat away from your body, it doesn't cool the room.

* Use natural energy such as solar power for heating. It is a slightly more expensive to install but it is a renewable resource and there is no electricity bill for it. It is much cheaper to install solar panels for heating than to have electricity-producing solar panels.

* Set the air-conditioner at 24-26 degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of about 60-70 per cent. Upping the temperature from 20-24 degrees Celsius can save up to 33 per cent of energy. Shut windows and doors to avoid cold air from escaping.

* Dress appropriately according to the climate. Wearing blazers or coats means lowering the air-conditioning temperature.

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