The Business Times

Motivating households to reduce electricity consumption

Published Wed, Nov 25, 2015 · 09:50 PM
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AT THE upcoming COP21 (Conference of the Parties) United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in December, Singapore will pledge to reduce its emissions by 2.5 per cent each year from 2020 to 2030. To reach this goal, households can and must play a role by cutting down on unnecessary electricity usage. They, of course, stand to gain by doing this because lower consumption usually means lower utility bills. However, Singapore households typically have deeply entrenched energy habits which are difficult to change.

There are several reasons for this. First, the average electricity bill is typically rather small relative to the amount of money that an average household devotes to housing, transport, education, health, entertainment, etc. Also, over the past 25 years, electricity prices have not changed much whereas the costs of housing, transport, education, health and entertainment have all increased considerably.

In addition, despite the fact that the average real household income increased almost 70 per cent from S$5,447 in 2005 to S$9,176 in 2014 at an annual average growth rate of 6 per cent, and that households have been steadily acquiring more and more electronic items, average monthly household electricity consumption has not increased since 2005. In fact, according to the Energy Market Authority (EMA), average monthly household electricity consumption decreased slightly from 471 kWh to 466.1 kWh over the same period, which is equivalent to a marginal drop of 1.04 per cent. As for household floor space, Housing & Development Board (HDB) flat ownership has remained relatively constant at around 90 per cent for local residents, and the share of households living in four and five-room flats has been steadily rising since 1997, and stands at over 62 per cent in 2015.

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