You can take individual action on climate change and the best way to start is to understand the size of your carbon footprint, which is the amount of carbon emissions that result directly and indirectly from your daily activities and lifestyle.
By calculating your carbon footprint, you can find out which activity generates more carbon emissions and take steps to change your lifestyle accordingly and reduce your emissions.
There are several online carbon footprint calculators that help you calculate your emissions and compare with the rest of the world. However, your carbon footprint may vary according to the calculator you use as these calculators vary by country, by activity and by the methodology behind the calculations.
What you can do is to calculate your carbon footprint using different calculators and take the average, or use a calculator that is catered for Singapore.
- SEC Climate Portal (for Singapore)
- Singapore Polytechnic (for Singapore)
- My Carbon Footprint by Hemispheres Foundation (for Singapore)
- The GreenAsia Group (includes Singapore)
- BP Energy Calculator (includes Singapore)
- Carbon Footprint
- Friends of the Earth
- Resurgence Carbon Calculator
- The CarbonNeutral Company
- WWF Footprint Calculator
Some tips for using the calculators:
- Check the electricity consumption from your utility bill or use the monthly national average
- The average amount of domestic waste generated per person per day in 2008 was 0.84 kg
- Use gothere.sg to check vehicle distance
- Check distance between countries
Most of the websites above offer carbon offsetting schemes, where you can buy carbon offsets to neutralise your carbon emissions as the payment is used to fund carbon-reducing projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects. You should first find ways to reduce your carbon footprint before offsetting your remaining emissions. Also, choose carbon offsets that meet standards such as the Voluntary Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard VER.
Check out our other tips on reducing your carbon footprint or watch this video:
Your utility bill shows the electricity consumption (in kWh) of your house over the past six months and also indicates the national average consumption for your house type. If your electricity consumption is below the national average, good for you. If not, you should start to monitor your energy consumption at home and find ways to reduce energy usage.
Electricity Audit Calculator
To find out which appliance at home consume the most electricity, you can use this electricity audit calculator from SP Services. The audit will help you calculate the estimated electricity consumption per month and also the electricity consumed by each appliance in kWh and cost.
If you want more accurate monitoring of your appliance’s energy consumption and to track your consumption over time, you can use an energy monitor such as ETrack or Wattson. These energy monitors can track the real time and monthly energy consumption of appliances in the home and display energy consumption in kWh and cost.
With the above calculator and energy monitor, you can monitor your electricity consumption at home and reduce the usage of high energy-consuming appliances or adjust your lifestyle to consume less energy.
Electricity Vending System
In the future, we might have smart energy meters installed in our homes. The Energy Market Authority (EMA) is currently studying the feasibility of the Electricity Vending System (EVS), which involves installing smart meters that allow consumers to choose an electricity package and manage the electricity consumed at home.
A typical Singapore household spends about 50% of its electricity bills on the air-conditioner and refrigerator. If you want to reduce energy at home and save money, the best way is to use your air-conditioner and refrigerator wisely. You can choose to do one or more of the following:
- If you need to buy an air-conditioner, choose one that is energy-efficient and suitably sized for your home. Check out the models with the Energy Label from this NEA database.
- Set your air-conditioner’s thermostat to a higher comfortable temperature (about 25 degree Celsius).
- Clean the air filters regularly and service your air-conditioners annually. For general servicing, approach Coolserve or other contractors.
- Set the timer to switch off your air-conditioner before dawn or after some hours of usage.
- Stop using your air-conditioner and switch to a fan (standing, box or ceiling type) that can keep you comfortable while using much less energy than your air-conditioner.
- Use your air-conditioner and fan on alternate days. For example, use the air-conditioner on even days and the fan on odd days.
- Switch on your air-conditioner one hour before going to bed. When it’s time to sleep, switch off the air-conditioner and use the fan instead. The fan is able to circulate the cool air and keep you comfortable.
- Adjust the thermostat in the refrigerator to a higher temperature or setting.
- Close the refrigerator door immediately after taking out the food.
- Ensure that the refrigerator is not placed near heat sources (eg. heating appliances or sunlight).
- Ensure that there is space for airflow near the compressor and condenser coils.
- Check that the door is air tight by closing the door on a piece of paper, which should stay in place.
- Allow hot food to cool before placing the food in the refrigerator.
- Allow sufficient space in the refrigerator for air circulation and do not stuff too much food inside.
- Buy a refrigerator with the smallest model to suit your needs and choose one with the energy efficient Energy Label.
Energy efficient appliances and lighting can help you to save energy and money. One household study by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) shows 35% monthly energy savings when energy efficient air-conditioner, refrigerator and lighting was used.
If you’re planning to buy a new air-conditioner, refrigerator or clothes dryer, remember to choose an energy efficient appliance with the Energy Label. The Energy Label is issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and it is mandatory for registered suppliers of air-conditioners, refrigerators and clothes dryers to affix the Energy Label on the units that they supply in Singapore.
The Energy Label shows the energy efficiency rating and the energy consumption of the appliance. The energy efficiency rating is expressed in green ticks:
- 1 tick – Fair
- 2 ticks – Good
- 3 ticks – Very Good
- 4 ticks – Excellent
The appliance with more ticks is more energy efficient. You can compare the green ticks for different brands and types of appliances from this database of registered goods. Remember to look out for the Energy Label when you’re buying a new appliance at the retail store.
If you’re buying lightbulbs, choose energy efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). CFLs last up to 10 times longer and use up to 80% less energy than incandescent lightbulbs. You should also choose the lowest wattage lightbulb needed for your specific lighting purpose.
Besides CFLs, you can choose LED lighting that are more efficient and last longer than CFLs.
For other appliances that are not under the Energy Label scheme (such as computers, dishwashers, ceiling fans, televisions and lighting), you can check whether they are ENERGY STAR qualified. The ENERGY STAR is a US labeling program to identify and promote energy efficient products. Find a suitable model from this wide range of ENERGY STAR appliances.
Image credit: Energy Label via E2 Singapore
Look around your house and find ways to reduce unnecessary energy usage. Here are some tips:
1. Switch off your electronic appliances such as the television and DVD player at the power socket, and don’t leave them on standby mode. The standby mode still consumes energy (also known as vampire energy) and can add to your electricity bill.
Here’s a video on vampire energy:
2. Unplug your charger after charging your mobile phone as the charger left in the power socket still consumes energy.
3. Remember to switch off all the lights and appliances when leaving the house or when they are not in use. Do a quick check before leaving the house. You can connect different appliances to a power strip so that you only need to turn off one switch.
4. If you’re buying a new computer, choose a laptop instead of a desktop as laptops use less energy. Also remember to use the power management mode on your computer to save energy. Here’s a guide to enable the energy saving features on your computer.
5. Reduce the brightness of your computer and television to cut energy consumption. The factory default setting may be brighter than necessary.
6. Remove unnecessary outdoor lighting such as spotlights. If you need them on at night, put them on a timer or use motion sensors.
7. Avoid using the clothes dryer when the weather is sunny, instead hang your clothes out to dry naturally.