Executive Summary & Key Findings Introduction A total of 560 households living in different housing types participated in a household energy consumption study between December 2011 and April 2012. The objectives of the study were to investigate and determine:
the ownership pattern of various home appliances across different housing types,
the energy consumption of each appliance as a proportion of the overall energy consumption in each housing type, and
appliance usage patterns, energy conservation habits and perceptions of households.
In order to capture the electricity consumption of appliances accurately, meters were installed for major appliances in participating households. Households were also interviewed on their energy consumption habits and perceptions about energy conservation. Key Findings Appliance Ownership The study found that, excluding lighting, the five appliances with the highest levels of ownership were refrigerators, televisions, fans, washing machines and personal computers. Larger homes, as expected, tended to have more appliances. The total number of appliances owned per household grew over the last two years by 2.5%. Appliances such as entertainment consoles, televisions and, in particular, fans and personal computers exhibited the highest ownership growth rates. Energy Consumption by Appliance Type The three appliances that on average registered the highest energy consumption about 76% of the total household energy usage across all households surveyed were air-conditioners, water heaters and refrigerators. Energy usage for airconditioning in private apartments and landed homes was higher than in the other housing types surveyed.
Television set-top boxes and air-conditioners consumed the most amount of energy while on standby. The total standby power consumed by the households surveyed was less than 1%, representing a small fraction of total consumption, though it was slightly higher at 1.53% in 1 and 2-room HDB flats.
Appliance usage patterns largely matched the daily routines of occupants. For example, kitchen appliances such as microwave and electric ovens were typically switched on around meal times, while water heaters were switched on in the morning before work and in the evening after work. Modem and routers were usually left on throughout the day, while air-conditioners were used mainly at night. When asked to identify the top three energy consuming appliances, the majority of households surveyed responded that refrigerators consumed the most, followed by air-conditioners. Households ranked televisions and washing machines as joint third highest energy consuming appliances. Households seemed unaware of the high energy use of water heaters and instead listed washing machines among the top three energy consuming appliances even though washing machines on average represented only 1.2% of total household consumption.
Appliance Replacements and Purchases The survey showed further that households mainly considered replacing appliances only when they were faulty or broken.
Price was the primary consideration when purchasing new appliances. However, households considered energy efficiency as one of the main determining factors when purchasing refrigerators and air-conditioners as they could refer to NEA’s energy labels to compare different models.
Further, respondents likely assumed that refrigerators and air-conditioners were the main contributors to overall household energy consumption. Therefore, changing to more energy efficient appliances made sense because household energy expenses could be reduced.
Awareness of Energy Conservation Campaigns and Messages Finally, the study also examined public awareness of NEA’s energy conservation campaigns and the common energy conservation practices recommended by NEA. While more than half the respondents observed NEA’s recommended energy saving tips, only about 20% were aware of NEA’s 10% Energy Challenge campaign and related messages. The most commonly practised energy saving tip was “switching off appliances when not in use”. The least commonly practised energy saving tip was “setting the air-conditioning thermostat to 25°C or higher”.
The main reason cited by respondents who practised energy conservation was the reduction in energy wastage in order to cut expenses. Conclusion Appliances have become more affordable in recent years and this trend is expected to continue into the future. Appliance ownership rates by households are therefore expected to increase. Expanding labelling schemes and minimum performance standards to more appliance types coupled with greater awareness of energy conservation practices will help to mitigate the expected increase in energy consumption over time.