3 Singaporean Couples Share How They Keep Their Utility Bills To A Minimum
Buying a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat is likely going to be one of the biggest financial decisions a couple will make. Given the costs involved, many will want to be careful with their expenses, especially in the first few years.
For most, if not all couples, living in their own home and having to handle all the expenses will be a new experience too.
Knowing who to turn to for help will ease your worries about managing home expenses, and who better to ask than people who’ve been through such experiences?
We spoke to 3 couples in their 30s who shared some nifty tips of how they managed to reduce their own expenses and thus, have more reserved for quality time. They are:
- Jessica Lai, 30, and Phua Jun Wen, 34
- Average monthly bill $35
- Haris bin Johari, 38, and home baker Luna bte Abdul Rahman, 37
- Average monthly bill $55
- Josephine Yang, 32, and Andrew Teo, 33
- Average monthly bill $45
Here’s what we’ve learnt in the art of keeping utility bills to a minimum.
1. Unplug appliances completely when not in use to prevent standby power
No, this tip is not a myth, and yes, vampire sources are a thing. The term refers to electronic devices that are left plugged in when not in use, such as your microwaves, printers, laptops, and chargers.
They’re surreptitiously consuming electricity when you’re not using them, which eventually translates into slightly costlier bills, according to reports.
It may be difficult to remember to unplug them once you’re done, so it’s good to have your partner remind you about the little things that may lead to energy costs piling up over time.
Now that there are monthly loans to repay after moving in, all 3 couples could agree on 1 thing—every cent counts.
2. Drink water from the tap or filter jugs instead of boiling
Singapore’s tap water is safe for drinking, without need for further filtration. Even so, we may know friends, or even our own parents, who still prefer boiling it first.
But boiling water regularly consumes a lot more electricity than required, which is why drinking tap water is the most economical way to go.
The more health-conscious folks like Mr Haris and his wife Ms Luna share that one good way to get around this is to witness water being filtered before their very eyes, via water filter jugs.
“We think it’s worth it to spend money on the jug, because it’s scientifically proven to be safer. The taste is great too,” said Ms Luna.
3. Shower in cold water instead of hot
Taking a hot shower after a long day may wash all the worries from work away, but you now have household responsibilities like energy bills to think about.
There’s no need to stress too much about this, because switching from that hot shower to a cold one helps cut down costs.
It sounds like an impossible scenario, but there are actually benefits to it, like jolting you awake in the morning.
“During my uni days, I was introduced to showering without hot water whilst staying in the hall. That made me stay alert during early morning lectures.
“Even in my new home, I rarely take hot showers and this habit carried on since I feel more refreshed,” related Mr Haris, adding that saving electricity costs is a bonus.
4. Fully charge all devices in office before pang gang time
Our mobile devices require rather long periods of charging, which we often do at home.
But here’s a hack many might not know of, which you can try at another place you might spend too much time at — the office.
Mr Haris admits that he has a habit of keeping his devices fully charged there before returning home, something which he can do again, now that more workers may return to their workplaces.
“I’m guilty of making sure my devices are fully charged before I leave office. At least it saves electricity at home!”
Long charging periods understandably consumes more electricity, so you can consider this hack to reduce electricity consumption at home by charging in the office instead.
5. Use LED instead of incandescent lights
After moving into their HDB flat 2 years ago, Ms Jessica Lai and husband Mr Phua Jun Wen promised each other to keep utility bills as low as they could, so they can have more to spend without feeling the pinch.
After doing some research, Ms Lai said she found out that LED bulbs consume 85% less electricity compared to incandescent ones.
LED bulbs are also cooler and more energy efficient, as validated in a media release by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Authorities are aiming for all light bulbs sold in Singapore to be as energy efficient as LED bulbs from 2023, so you can expect them to be more accessible soon.
6. Use tinted films for windows or black out curtains to stave off heat
Relying on natural light is the best to cut down energy consumption. But in sunny Singapore, this often comes at the expense of having higher temperatures indoors.
It might be tempting to turn on the air conditioner in the day, but Ms Lai said there are cheaper alternatives.
Her secret to having a cool room is to use tinted films for windows, as well as black out curtains.
She found them useful in staving off midday heat and unwanted perspiration during WFH hours.
7. Switch off the aircon after 30 mins
If you can’t live without natural light – hence, no to the curtains tip – you may want to try another hack Ms Lai uses to combat sweltering temperatures.
For illustrative purposes only
She switches on the air conditioning in a closed room for a while, giving it about 30 minutes for the entire room to be cooled down.
Then, she switches it off and uses the fan for air circulation instead, which helps especially when the room is already cold.
Since the fan uses far less electricity, you can save on your bills while still enjoying some cool air.
8. Pick ‘cooling’ surfacing materials for your home
Keeping your home cool 24/7 doesn’t have to require electrical devices like aircons or fans.
Reduce the sky-high bills by investing in the right surface materials instead, which will make your home cool both literally and figuratively.
Ms Josephine Yang learnt some neat tricks from her interior designer friend, who explained that surface materials in pale hues will reflect light, meaning that less heat is absorbed.
Some popular options include:
- Natural stone
9. Don’t leave the fridge too empty
While it’s good to consider the needs of your family and getting a fridge of the appropriate size, Ms Lai has a word of advice—don’t leave it too empty.
The 30-year-old’s extensive research using Google has revealed that refrigerators need to be packed somewhat full for them to function most efficiently.
Otherwise, every time the door opens, they would end up guzzling a lot of energy to replace cold air that flows out.
So if you’re guilty of having near-empty fridges most of the time – primarily because you don’t cook – you can stockpile drinks that take at least a year to expire to keep the compartments at least ⅔ full.
But be sure not to pack the fridge too tightly, because this would lead to uneven air circulation and inconsistent temperatures within.
10. Choose fixed-rate electricity plans
When you’re in the market for a new energy provider after moving in, it’s good to examine plans that will meet the electricity needs of you and your partner.
There are a lot of uncertainties that come with being a new homeowner, as you learn on the go and make adjustments. But you can count on your electricity charges staying relatively constant with Geneco and its Get It Fixed 24 plan.
It is their most popular one for a reason—you’re charged a fixed rate of 18.83¢/kWh for 2 years, in comparison with regulated tariffs of 24.13¢/kWh (as of 1 Apr 2021).
This essentially eliminates future situations where you have to worry about fluctuations in the electricity market. You’ll also save $547 on your electricity bill over 2 years, at the current regulated tariff.
Couples also have enough time to get their homes sorted out before taking on bigger challenges in family life.
$53 bill rebate & $20 grocery voucher during Geneco anniversary promo
Geneco is celebrating their 3rd anniversary from now till 30 Apr. Those looking to make the switch now are in for a treat, especially if your existing provider is SP.
Hop over from SP to Geneco, and you’ll get a $53 bill rebate and $20 grocery voucher when you key in the promo code: BDAY73
Even if you’re switching over from another provider, you’ll still be able to enjoy a $53 bill rebate this promo code: BDAY53
That’s not the end of it—ask around your social circle to see if anyone is already using Geneco. Getting a referral code from them will entitle you to an extra $20 bill rebate.
If this promo lights up your world, you can check out watt’s cookin’ on their website here.
Getting the right plan, helps you plan better for other things in life
Getting a BTO flat can be a daunting experience considering the money you’re putting into it. But having tips and tricks from others who’ve been through it can be the guiding light you need to navigate this new journey.
Certainly, utility bills can be drastically reduced with the right plan and smart usage.
Hopefully, this guide will have assisted in taking a load off your back so you can spend less time worrying about costs and more time spending your life the way you want.
This post was brought to you in collaboration with Geneco.
Featured image adapted from Unsplash and TheSmartLocal.