Living with your parents comes with many luxuries that most take for granted. Groceries magically become dinners, clothes magically fold themselves, and somehow at the end of the day, the lights magically go out. This last one is something many of us forget about – we don’t really realise the pain of adulting until we strike out on our own and receive our very first, crippling utility bill.
If you, too, have been a victim of utility bill sticker shock, or want to avoid experiencing it altogether, here are 9 smart reno hacks to lower your electricity and water bills each month so that you can save both the earth and your bank account.
1. Install a dual-flush toilet
You may have noticed that public toilet flushes tend to have two buttons. The smaller one releases a more conservative stream of water, while the larger one lets it flow, depending on the business dealt in the bowl.
Image credit: @perfectfindluxedesign
As you renovate your home, one reno hack is to make sure all your bathrooms have a dual-flush function. Dual-flush toilets save around 67% of water as compared to conventional toilets. It may not seem like much, but every drop of water saved is also a cent or two off your water bill.
2. Install dimmer switches
Some of us may never grow out of our fear of the dark, but luckily, instead of leaving lights on 24/7, there is a more energy-efficient (and wallet-friendly) solution. Installing dimmers is a smart reno hack that allows you to adjust the intensity of the lights to suit your needs and preferences.
In the evening, this may mean having them on at full intensity, but come nighttime, you may want to swap out the harsh light for lighting that gently illuminates the room. Lower-intensity lighting uses less electricity, and in turn, saves you more money.
Alternatively, opt for motion-activated LED lighting – LED bulbs are both cheaper and more long-lasting than conventional bulbs – LED bulbs use about 80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
3. Choose energy-efficient appliances with higher energy ratings
By now, I’m sure almost all of us have seen the tick ratings that come with new electronic appliances. The ticks signify how energy efficient an appliance is. Most appliances, like air conditioners, televisions, and dryers, are rated on a scale of one to five, with five being the most efficient and one being the least.
Image credit: NEA
Getting a five-tick air conditioner compared to a three-tick unit, for example, is estimated to save around $2300 over the lifetime of the unit. Some appliances, like refrigerators, are rated on a four-tick scale. Understanding the scale, and choosing appliances that score highly are key to keeping energy usage low, and expenses low as well.
4. Use smart power strips
You may not know this, but some electronics never truly turn off – instead, they go into something known as standby mode. In this state, they continue to suck up power in order to be ready for use when needed. The costs associated with this constant flow of power can add up quickly, though we rarely think about it.
Image credit: @smartapfel.blog
To cut the problem off at the source, invest in smart power strips during your renovation. Smart power strips, as the name suggests, are smart – they can detect when gadgets aren’t in use, and cut off the power supply when devices are inactive.
5. Install water-saving fixtures in the bathroom
Just as a low-flow toilet flush can save you money and water, a low-flow showerhead can go far in reducing your water usage. Typical low-flow showerheads reduce water flow by anywhere from 40-60%.
Image credit: @bathroom_review
This comes up to over 28,000 litres, or 112,000 glasses of water a year! Crazy, right? If you’re worried that low-flow also means low pressure, you’ll be happy to know that isn’t the case. Newer models make use of smaller apertures, or openings, and air to create stronger water pressure for a shower experience that’s indistinguishable from regular showerheads.
6. Plan for natural ventilation
Singapore may be hot, but cut off natural airflow and the heat becomes unbearable. An easy way to keep things breezy is to design your home in a way that maximises natural ventilation. When drawing up plans, consider strategic placement of windows, doors, and louvers, pretty much any opening that lets air in or out.
Image credit: @ourgreennook
Proper placement will facilitate cross-ventilation, allowing fresh air to circulate and lessening the need for air conditioning. Ineffective placement, however, will have you reaching for your AC remote on the daily.
7. Incorporate a smart home system into your build
Unlike home-building in our parent’s time, we live in the age of technology. The same repetitive tasks like switching off lights and drawing the curtains which used to be a chore can now be automated. If the idea of never touching a light switch again sounds appealing to you, you may want to consider creating a smart home ecosystem in your new home.
Image credit: Unsplash
These smart home technologies help manage energy consumption and allow you to control and monitor devices remotely. They may be an investment at first, but they pay for themselves over time as they help optimise energy usage and detect wastage. These systems allow you to optimise energy usage based on your preferences and routines.
If you’re an early riser, you can program your curtains to open in the morning so you can wake up to the sunrise. Later in the day, you can have them close automatically to avoid mid-afternoon sun.
8. Install skylights where possible
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a home that allows you to make structural changes to the roof, you may want to consider installing a skylight. In addition to being beautiful, they do a great job at letting natural light in, reducing the need for artificial light.
Image credit: Unsplash
At night, as the name suggests, the skylight offers a view of the sky and stars. Grab a floor mat, plop on down, and go stargazing in your own home.
9. Use natural stone, ceramic, or porcelain flooring
Most of us may know porcelain as the material that our fancy china is made of, but few know that its cooling properties make it excellent flooring as well. Tiles made from natural stone, ceramic, and porcelain have great heat resistance, which helps to keep your home cool.
Image credit: @ebcraftsmen
Unlike laminate or vinyl, these materials do not retain heat, making them ideal for hot climates like what we’re all used to in Singapore. In addition, they’re also pretty easy to clean – just go over the floor with a mop soaked in warm, soapy water for sparkling tiles.
BONUS: Check thoroughly for leaks
Here’s one that’ll save you thousands down the line: when you first receive your flat, be it BTO or post-reno, you’ll want to do a thorough inspection of the home. Are there any leaks? Any cracks in the piping?
Image credit: TheSmartLocal
If so, bring it up with your contractors ASAP and have them nip it in the bud before it becomes anything more serious. You’ll be surprised by how much water a leaky faucet can waste; a faucet that drips once per second adds up to 11,000 litres of wasted water a year. That’s 44,000 glasses of water.
Reno hacks to lower your electricity & water bills each month
And there you have it. 8 foolproof reno hacks to lower your electricity and water bills each month. Whether you’re just getting started on your reno journey, or just manifesting for your future home, hopefully these tips come in handy.
Many of us may have grown up with the impression that a more environmentally conservative lifestyle should come at the expense of comfort, but clearly, it’s the other way around. So remember, four ticks good, one tick bad, five ticks best.
For more, check out:
- Getting An Interior Designer? What To Know So You Won’t Be Scammed
- August 2023 BTO: Over 6,000 Units Across Popular Estates
- This Cosy HDB Uses All-Muji Furniture For A Serene Space Straight Out Of A Lo-Fi Playlist
- Best Standing Desks In 2023 If You Want To Stop Backaches & Improve Productivity
Cover image adapted from: @ourgreennook, @smartapfel.blog, @solluminaire