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    Small businesses and households find ways to lower electricity bills


    July 1, 2022 - Elijah Wong, Karen See

     

      Small businesses, some of which have seen their electricity bills doubling, have taken steps to reduce their energy bills but are still finding it difficult to make ends meet.

      Shopkeepers whom The Straits Times spoke to in Kovan and Ang Mo Kio yesterday cited other pressures, such as competition from e-commerce, as contributing to difficulties faced by heartland businesses.

      Mr Mohd Rafeek, who has been working at his family-run provision shop, Aslam's Store, in Kovan for 22 years, said: "With more online stores coming up as a result of Covid-19, my business is struggling to keep up. I might have to give up my business in three years.

      "I noticed an increase of about $50 in my electricity bills over the past few months."

      Electricity prices in Singapore have been creeping up since April last year.

      Grid operator SP Group announced yesterday that the tariff for the period between July 1 and Sept 30 will be 30.17 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), excluding the goods and services tax. This is about an 8 per cent increase from the current rate of 27.94 cents per kWh.

      Mr Rafeek, 64, said he has been switching off his beverage chillers an hour before his 11pm closing time, as he usually has no customers at that time.

      At Ren Lee Boutique, which sells garments and gem handicrafts in Hougang, owner Grace Lee, 60, said her electricity bills have more than doubled since 2019.

      She said she raises the temperature setting of her shop's air-conditioning so as to use less electricity.

      Previously, she had about 15 spotlights shining on her garments and gem handicrafts to attract customers. Now, six spotlights have been changed to more energy-efficient LED ones, she said.

      However, these energy-saving efforts have caused her business to suffer.

      Mrs Lee, who has been operating the shop for more than 15 years, said: "Sometimes, customers try clothes on but say it's too hot and leave without buying anything. So if I don't lower the temperature of my air-conditioner, my business will be affected."

      Households have also found ways to cut down on energy consumption.

      Madam Lim, 75, who lives in a three-room Housing Board flat, said that her bills have gone up from $50 to $90.

      The only electrical appliance she uses in the day is her refrigerator, as she seeks to save electricity.

      The retiree, who did not want to give her full name, said that she switches on the television only when there is a programme she wants to watch. Otherwise, it stays turned off.

      Housewife Luo Yun, 37, said her family does not often use the air-conditioner or fan in their five-room flat. Instead, the family opens the doors and windows to allow the air to circulate.

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