Being a humid country almost all year long, it is no longer surprising how prevalent aircon usage is in Singapore, even topping the rest of its ASEAN neighbours when it comes to rate of aircon installations. Add to that the fast rise of various residential buildings and developments, with every property requiring at least one air conditioning unit. As a matter of fact, a study conducted by the Singapore National Environment Agency revealed at almost 40 per cent of the electrical bill of a household is from aircon usage. This also means that there is so much room for the country to transition to a more sustainable and ecological lifestyle by simply tweaking aircon usage.
Where the Problem Lies
While changes in aircon usage alone could not make or make the environment, there has been alarming practices in Singapore that can be adjusted to ensure a more responsible energy consumption. Ever notice how some establishments just feels so ice-cold especially right after December? The first few weeks of the year usually record the lowest temperature for Singapore, and yet most air conditioning units of most commercial establishments are running like it’s the peak of the summer. This somehow explains why we would sometimes walk into an uncomfortably cold office or shop. This can and should change.
Aircon and ventilation specialists have long advocated for a more responsive temperature setting. This means that the AC should work according to outdoor and indoor temperature. The newer air conditioning units now have this capacity to auto-adjust, but for those who still need to manually control their temperature settings, it is important to be more aware of how the surrounding prior to blasting the AC in full. Unfortunately, a strong info campaign for most AC users in Singapore is still needed to achieve this.
What Can be Done
As one of the leading users of air conditioning units in the ASEAN, Singapore can also create a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions and electric consumption by simply adjusting to responsible aircon usage. This includes diversifying the cooling systems of the establishments to include chilled beams, industrial fans, and even natural ventilation. These options would somehow require structural changes, as well. However, any business could readily weigh in on the savings from electric bill reduction as the return of investment of the renovating the area.
Active participation of households is also crucial in this move. Since most households are not using at least two AC units at a time, there is a need to educate these users further on the impact of ACs not just on their personal pockets but to a larger society. An ideal AC temperature should be comfortable, which means that it should have you layering your home clothes or using thick blankets kind of cold. While most AC units both manual and automatic are capable of cooling down a room up to 18 degrees Celsius, but rooms do not have to be really this cold to be comfortable.
Reducing the thermostat up to two degrees higher will already significantly reduce the workload for the aircon and its energy consumption. It is essential to adjust the temperature based on the prevailing outdoor and indoor temperature to achieve optimal efficiency.
These small and easy changes in how we approach aircon usage will eventually go a long way for your electric bills and the overall carbon footprint of Singapore as a massive aircon user country.