Greenery is everywhere in Singapore. The manicured bushes and strategically planted trees paint a consistent image of tamed wilderness while ever so often, a developer will wax lyrical about how their new high-rise development is BCAA approved with a Green Mark stamp of approval.
But as ubiquitous as green is around Singapore, it is less so within the many homes. For the layman to achieve a green-standard of living or be environmentally friendly as it more commonly known, the added cost of infrastructure and specific devices may prove too costly for the price of admission.
If you are driven toward achieving a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly home however, here are five easy ways to do so on a budget:
1) Energy efficiency
Using CFL or LED light bulbs will help a lot toward conserving energy. Eco air-conditioners are also a necessity if you intend to install them at home. They are usually slightly pricier but in this case, paying a bit more to save more in the future is a smart investment.
Do your research for the air-con and consider other energy efficient appliances for your home. The other thing you can do is install big windows that admit lots of natural light so you minimize how often you turn the lights on. If you’re on a high floor, installing ceiling fans and leaving the windows open will give you much needed ventilation and keep you cool without sucking up electricity and energy.
2) Ditch paper towels
Using paper towels to clean up spills is both wasteful and expensive. Switch to cloth towels instead as it has more uses than paper towels and can be washed when dirty. An old t-shirt you can’t fit in any longer can be used as a rag so you don’t even need to spend any money to begin with.
3) Skip the dryer
A clothes dryer is useful for a single person or young couple that spends more time at work than at home, but it is also a chief contender for energy consumption. Skip the dryer and dry clothes on a line or a clothing rack. If you can’t hang your clothes out to dry, pop a fan on a stool and use it to expedite the process.
This will save more energy than using a dryer and will be more cost effective, albeit slower. On that note, front-loader washing machines drain less energy than a top-loader so while a top-loader is convenient, go for the front-loader to save money.
4) Unplug everything
Many appliances use up electricity even when they’re turned off. Computers that are put into sleep mode also drain electricity. Practice turning things off and for appliances that are plugged into a power strip, turn that power strip off when not in use or simply unplug it. It’s tedious to constantly plug your appliances back in but doing so will help to lower your PUB (Public Utility Board) bill at the end of the month.
5) Turn off the lights
Even if you’re using LED or CFL lights, having them turned on all the time adds up over time. Switch them off when you’re not in the room or when it’s not required, such as during the day. Alternatively, use scented candles on nights when you don’t need much light, as during a movie or when there’s a small, intimate gathering. Candles cost little but add plenty of atmosphere and ambience. Plus, since it’s scented you make your room smell good at the same time.
If you’re just starting to make positive changes to your home, understand that it will be a few months before the results will be seen. Part of this is due to how PUB monitors the meter attached to your home. Many times, the new results are averaged against the baseline which, if yours is a new home, then it is the first time the meter was checked. Stick with it though, and introduce other eco-friendly processes to further cut down on your emissions and waste.
One extra example is to recycle your plastics and cans. Every HDB estate will have a recycling bin nearby so it’s not difficult to make a separate trash bag for the non-perishables and toss them out on your way to work.
Being eco-friendly is a concentrated choice and it is a series of actions that require commitment and judicious repetition until it becomes a habit.