What’s Eating Up the Most Electricity in Your Home

Your monthly electricity bill comes in and you go through the motion of paying the dues. Maybe you do consider trying to cut down after a particularly bad spending month, but no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem that you can cut down by much.

Electricity meter
Household energy consumption profile

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Electricity bills in Singapore can take you by surprise, with the year-round heat and tropical humidity, its hard to imagine living without comforts like air conditioning and heated showers.

While these devices are long known culprits of staggering bills, did you know that your television also contributes a significant portion of electrical consumption? Even devices that you need to keep on 24/7 like your fridge can be an electricity guzzler. So, let’s look at just who’s behind your electrical bills, and what you can do to help reduce the consumption

Air Conditioners

While the heat of the day, and sometimes even the night, can feel overwhelming the air conditioner can be a sweet relief.  However, air conditioning is also a well-known cause of electrical consumption. In most households, the air conditioners can account for more than one-third of the total electrical consumption. With an estimated cost of 60 cents per hour, having 2 air conditioners on at night for 8 hours would be a total of $9.60 per night in total.

Another alternative would be to use a fan, while air conditioners may be tempting, there are some nights where a fan may be just as cool, especially in the wetter seasons of the month. If you need any more convincing, a fan can cost as little as 0.7 cents per hour, just under 100x less than an air conditioner.

Water Heaters

Another large sink of electricity, water heaters are next on the list of the most energy consuming products. While these guys do have a relatively short ‘on the job’ time, its common to find that people would just leave the water heater running all day, and this the likely cause of its position at number 2. If you want to start dropping the numbers on your bill, you can start by turning off the water heater when its not in use and turning it back on just before you want to take a shower. The slight inconvenience can slowly add up and start saving you a significant portion of your bill each month.


Number 3 on the list is another likely culprit. While refrigerators are in use 24/7, modern technology has been able to better keep the cost down, through better insulation and improved circulation. Refrigerators are probably one of the few appliances on this list that you can’t help but continue with how much you are already using them, but if you’re looking to get a new one, you can improve the energy efficiency by choosing a more energy efficient model.

Television Sets

Finally, on the last 2-digit consumer on the list, this appliance makes the list with an estimated use of 6 hours a day. While intuitively yes, the larger the screen, the more energy it consumes, but other facts do play a part. Such as how bright the screen is, do you have an eco-mode and what’s the base energy rating of the model.


While individually not making up for a significant portion of the bill, the combination of other electrical appliances (lights, fans, washing machines) do add up to 15 to 25 % of the remainder of your bill. If you’re keeping your lights on for longer than you should (forgetting to turn them off at night), its probably another area you can look into.

Understanding Electrical Charges

Quarterly household electricity tariff

So how is electricity charged in Singapore? Well, the simple answer is based on how much electricity you consume, and different appliances consume electricity at different rates, you are charged at a fluctuating rate based on the quarter of the year. For context, the rate has ranged from 22.79 cents/kWh to 24.22 cents/kWh over the year 2019.

While certain appliances have different electrical consumption rates, the usual suspects, air conditioners, water heaters and refrigerators, usually have higher consumption rates than less demanding electrical appliances.

Average monthly electricity bills

So, where does your household stand in all of this? Well, based on the table provided, a 3-room HDB flat should have a monthly bill of $62.45, while an apartment can go up to $131.36 per month. So if you’ve been exceeding these numbers, its possible that you’re not using electricity as efficiently as you should.

Buying the Right Product

Energy Label

Now that you know how you’re being charged for electricity, it’s time to plan how you can drop the expenses. This label should look familiar to you. The Energy Label is a mandatory infographic that’s placed on all electrical devices on sale in Singapore.

While the simple way to read it is to see how many ticks it has (the more ticks, the more energy efficient it is), the label has a lot more details on it than just that. With the projected annual cost, and annual energy consumption you can estimate how much the product would cost you even after you purchase it. While these estimates are not always accurate for due to varying amounts of usage, it can be quite close for devices like refrigerators which are expected to be running 24/7.

Finally, take note that the ticks are based on which category of appliance the product is in. A refrigerator with 4 ticks would not have the same electrical consumption as a lightbulb with 4 ticks. Use this label to help you compare when shopping for new products and determining which one is most suited for you.