Ever wonder on how to start practicing energy efficiency at home? Ever wonder who are the major culprits behind your electricity bill? But why most of us are just reluctant to make the effort despite the awareness of consequences of wasting electricity? Or do we always have the perception of a heavy up front cost is needed to start saving electricity? The low tariff rate of electricity and lack of education remain as one of the main barriers when it comes to the effort of Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency in Malaysia.
That is well testified when the electricity tariff is risen by an average of 15% effectively the year of 2014 after it was announced end of last year, which followed by an increased in interests of huge energy consumer such as factories to review their energy usage and also prompting mall owners to readjust their Air Cond thermostat. It is important to save energy from the fundamental, which is starting from human behavioral, earlier on i wrote on how Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy should be reviewed before one decides to go for Renewable Energy. There is a lot of ways on how anyone in the public can participate in the effort of energy efficiency, whether it is for the cause of lowering his own carbon footprint obligation or to the simple reason of monetary savings, which begins from your home!
The total energy consumption for domestic or residential is merely one fifth of the total energy consumption, however it has the largest number of consumers as a whole, showing that this is a sector that almost anyone in the country can relate and begin with, furthermore, energy operations at home are relatively simple and relevant to the general public to understand better.
So how do you spend electricity at home?
A study conducted from CETDEM who has been monitoring the energy usage trend in Malaysia household, has shown that the largest energy footprint of the household isn’t the house alone, but the transportation usage with a staggering fraction of three quarters of final energy usage. Thus it makes sense to rethink on your travel time between your home and your work place instead of only focusing in energy efficiency at home. Nevertheless, the research also shows that half of the energy usage at home is dedicated to cooling and heating, and next will be, refrigerator accounts as much as one fifth of the home energy usage.
Challenge yourself with the RM20 Government Subsidy
I personally think that if you have a household of a person or 2 with a stringent lifestyle monitoring on your energy consumption, you can basically pay nothing for your electricity bill. Why so? Ever since 2008, Malaysia government has stated that all TNB residential customers are entitled to a RM20 subsidy on electricity bill if their bills are found to be lower than RM20. Source.
So how far is it possible for one to spend electricity lesser than RM20 a month? Here’s a summary for you to consider on how to reduce your household electricity consumption. (note that the following terminology of ‘energy’ resembles electricity usage at home only)
This illustration above shows you the step to step guide on how to save your energy usage, as much as total net zero energy usage, or even surplus through the help of SEDA’s Feed In Tariff Scheme which i will explain later. The rational sequences of action plan when it comes to electricity saving measurements are:
Energy Auditing – The essence of understanding your energy usage
How many of us know how much energy unit we are spending monthly? How many of us know which energy appliances are the culprits that we need to pay attention towards to to be the priority on reducing energy consumption? Each household may vary from one to another due to the household lifestyle or special needs.
Energy Conservation – If you fail this, you fail all else.
Yes i said so because energy conservation is the very fundamental of embarking the saving energy action plan. If you do not practise it and continue to embark on Energy Efficiency, the effort may be bounced effect, known as Jevons Paradox. It suggests that the increase in efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of the resource. The greenest light bulb is the one that you will switch off when it is not in used. Besides having the rule of thumb on switching off anything unnecessary as you are not using it, ask the other fundamental questions:
- Are you really using only what you need?
- What is the size of your fridge and television?
- Do you need 4 down lights fittings to lit up your task activity (e.g reading newspaper)? (Read more on choosing the right lightbulb)
- Do you need to use the Air Conditioner, or even fan when you can have natural ventilation.
Energy Efficiency – Invest in Long Term Savings
After ensuring on no wastage of unnecessary energy consumption, then the focus is on evaluating the efficiency of your energy appliances. Starting from mid of this year 2014, there will be a minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) set for 5 domestical electrical products, namely Air Conditioner, Refrigerator, Television, Domestic Fan and Lamps (Source: Energy Commission). This means that any of the 5 mentioned electrical appliances will need to pass a certain energy performance benchmark to be in the consumer market, and it is mandatory to be labelled with an energy star label like below:
The key to energy efficiency is to know how to evaluate your pay back period for the upfront additional investment cost. This can be seen by the estimated energy consumption (kWh) per year and you can work out on the ringgit and sense of it, so please discourage judging your decision upon looking at the price, as you wouldn’t know that they might be the priciest in operation cost few years down the road. The operating cost of electrical appliances is always much more than the purchasing cost in most cases.
There are more details on energy saving in the aspect for cooling, as cooling energy can be reduced with good passive design house, which also translates into occupant habits such as ensuring appropriate blinds to prevent penetration of direct sunlight that will heat up your internal space, discourage to open windows fully during afternoon but at night so to invite in cool air rather than hot air. PM me then perhaps i can look more into your home settings. For a more complete detail guide on how to conserve energy and also purchasing energy efficient appliances, you can refer or down the PDF below:
SAVE Program – Return of Investment as much as 9 folds
It is worth mentioning here on the success of SAVE (Sustainability Achieved Via Energy Efficiency) program that was carried out by the Sustainable Energy division in Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KETTHA) during 2011. Being one of the Entry Point Project 9 under the ETP Economic Transformation Program, SAVE rebate program aims to stimulate the sales of energy efficient appliances by increasing the demand through rebates for consumers. It aims to save up to 7,300 GWh of energy by 2020, this can also lower peak demand as well as avoiding unnecessary additional power plants, speaking of energy security as well as part of global warming mitigation effort!
Renewable Energy – Benefit from SEDA 1.6% RE Fund
If you have been wondering on the current 1.6% surcharge imposed to your electricity bill (if your monthly electricity bill exceeds more than 300kWh or RM77/month, then this is where you will benefit if you are one of the FiAH Feed In Approval Holders! This money is channeled into the RE Fund and administered by SEDA Malaysia and used to support the Feed-in Tariff programme.
Effective 15th March 2014, new degression rates for solar PV have been gazetted. For simple rooftop application for 7 kW, RM1.2589 per kWh (base rate of RM0.9936+RM0.2153 for retrofitted application + RM0.05 (bonus for local PV modules). That is almost 6 times the price of domestic electricity tariff RM0.218! Investing into RE with the benefit of FiT makes some economic sense. An energy efficient household of 4 will need an estimated of 7kWp of solar PV, which cost around estimated RM60,000 as of today’s price. A simple calculation break down will prove how FiT makes sense.
WITHOUT FiT- 7kWp/year produces 7700kWh/year=642kWh/month=Earns RM139/month. Payback RM60,000/RM139= 431 months = 35 years
WITH FiT- 7kWp/year produces 7700kWh/year=642kWh/month=Earns RM808/month. Payback RM60,000/RM808= 74 months = 6.2 years
By signing up to be a FiAH, the payback period is essentially shorten from 35 years to 7.5 years! Can you imagine investing into RE with a 35 years pay back period? I am not even sure if my house still stands there. Click HERE if you are interested to be one of the participant of FiAH! However, the advantage of Renewable Energy particularly PV depends on your roof context whether it is suitable or not. While RE does not reduce your energy consumption of your household directly (bear in mind of that), at least you are sure that you are producing clean energy and contributing back to the grid.
Cooltek House – A testimony of Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
A prime example on a user that puts in all of the energy saving measurements into good practice is Stephanie Bacon. It is a true zero carbon residential dwelling, after she retrofitted her AC units to an inverter multi split units AC. She has a 4.8kWp output PV, which has the efficiency of 11.4%, current market has efficiency as high as 14%. The technology of PV is definitely encouraging and as well as the price is getting cheaper as it has dropped a lot since years ago (now at RM8~10k). The Cooltek house was also the first private residence to win ASEAN Energy Awards in 2009.
Stephanie has shown what is it like to practise energy efficiency from the very essential building passive design elements and she reflects the very significant part of any energy efficient buildings, which is being an end user who cares into energy saving a lot. She even audits every day’s PV power output as well as monitoring the weather condition. She wrote a full guide on Cooltek, just visit www.cooltek.org! That really matters as it is important for any energy efficient or even non energy efficient building to have a smart user understanding and handling his building energy performance.
Do something, Make a Change
That is why i started this whole energy saving steps off with Occupants Must Understand their Energy usage. It is indeed encouraging to see Stephanie’s effort and it is hopeful that many of us here (including you who are reading this) will be very concern and smart on the energy we use everyday. Most of us in fact do not know how and where our energy is produced, but we just recognized them coming from our ‘glorified switch’! I am sure on the ways to save energy is something being taught since young, but what you need to teach yourself is to overcome your behavioral excuses, first get to know how much energy you are using, then bring it on from there!
p/s Knowing my carbon footprint for my energy use is part of the motivation why i am concern for the environment. More stories HERE.