Financial Planning | Life | Personal Finance | Personal Stories | Article

I Tried Cutting Back on My Electricity Consumption and Saved RM7 in a Week

by Ooi May Sim | 20 Oct 2022 | 6 mins read

With the increase in cost of living, it’s only natural to start looking at ways that we can save on our daily expenses. After looking at ways to cut my food expenditure and spend less on petrol, the next thing I set my eyes on was trying to reduce my electricity bill.  

This is because electricity bills vary from month to month and boils down to how much electricity is used at home.  

But can being more mindful of my electricity consumption really make a significant difference? And how much can I really save? 

To answer these questions, I decided to track my electricity usage for two weeks. In the first week, I lived as I normally would, in relative comfort, whereas in the second week, I attempted to be as frugal as possible and reduce the amount of electricity I consume. 


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My ‘cavewoman’ experience 

According to Spark Energy, an electricity and natural gas company in the United States, some of the biggest energy guzzling home appliances are air-conditioning (AC), water heaters, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, microwaves, televisions and lighting.  

With that in mind, and since I have all eight of these appliances at home, these were the main things I tried to reduce usage on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything about my fridge as that needs to be on 24/7.  

Surviving that week with heightened awareness to reduce my electricity usage was no easy feat. Being mindful about switching off the lights, microwave and television when I wasn’t using them wasn’t a problem, but I struggled with the other appliances.  

I did not use my AC for an entire week. Luckily, the weather was pretty good (not too hot) for most of the week, although there was one particular day where the house was really stuffy, and I had to fight the urge to hit the AC button. But aside from being slightly uncomfortable, it was still manageable.  

Unfortunately, this was not the case when it came to managing my household’s laundry. I normally wash three loads a week. This week, I tried washing my clothes by hand and it didn’t turn out well.  

As I have only used machines to do my laundry for pretty much my entire adult life, it took me more than an hour to scrub one load of laundry. And my hands, which are not used to so much hard labour were rough and flaky after that. 

But my ordeal wasn’t over. After washing my clothes, I had to wring them dry then hang them. By the end of this chore, I was spent.  

For the remaining week, I avoided doing laundry altogether and was very happy once the week was up simply because I could wash my clothes again. 

I was also unsuccessful in bathing without a water heater. This was the toughest part of the challenge. As someone who bathes with scorching hot water (think scalding), bathing in cold water, especially in the morning was torture, and I only managed to do this once for the entire challenge. And no, unlike my laundry, I didn’t stop taking showers, I just succumbed to switching on the water heater.  

How much did I manage to save? 

Before I share how much money I managed to save, it is important to first understand how electricity tariffs are calculated in Malaysia.  

Electricity charges for domestic consumers (households) in Malaysia follows a tiered system, as shown in the chart below:

As you can see in this chart, there are five different tiers of electricity usage, each with set energy prices. A customer who uses more electricity will fall into a higher tier and would have to pay higher charges for each kilowatt they consumed.  

For example, if I were to use 400kWh a month, these are the calculations:

First 200kWh [(200xRM21.80)/100]  = RM43.60 

Next 100kWh [(100xRM33.4)/100]    = RM33.40 

Next 100kWh [(100xRM51.60)/100]  = RM51.60 

                                              TOTAL = RM128.60 


My electricity bill for the month would be RM128.60. 

Now back to the challenge. In the first week of the challenge, I used 71kWh of electricity, which costs RM15.48. In the second week, my usage was 40kWh, or RM8.72. I managed to save RM6.76 in a week.  

While this does not look like much, it can add up in the long run, especially if it enables you to drop into a lower tier with cheaper rates.  


My takeaway from the challenge 

Although I only managed to accumulate minimal savings, the greatest takeaway I got from this experiment was that I should be more mindful of my electricity usage.  

Too often, I would turn lights on whenever I entered a room then forget to turn them off before I leave the room. I am also guilty of standing in front of my fridge and taking my time to scan its contents while I contemplate what to make for dinner. 

After this experiment, I have resolved to changing my bad habits. I believe that although these are small changes, they add up eventually. Plus, it is also good to be mindful of my electricity consumption and not waste electricity unnecessarily.  

But what I won’t continue doing is to bathe with cold water and hand wash my clothes because it takes up too much time (and causes too much suffering).

Other things you can do to reduce your electricity usage  

Aside from reducing the amount of electricity used, you can also switch to energy efficient appliances. In Malaysia, home appliances have energy efficiency ratings ranging from one to five stars, with one being the least energy efficient.  

TNB states that a 5-Star rated fridge consumes up to 43% less energy than a 2-Star product and could potentially save you RM62 annually. This is for one appliance. 5-Star appliances do cost more upfront, but you save on electricity and help the earth too if you were to make this investment.   

Electricity rates are on the rise 

Another reason to look into reducing your electricity consumption is because rates will be rising aka your electricity bill will increase even if you don’t do anything different.  

Although the government has vowed not to increase our electricity rates for now, analysts forecast that it is just a matter of time before higher tariffs are imposed. This is due to surging international energy demand, fuel supply disruptions, and a growing shortage of oil, gas and coal that have caused global energy prices to skyrocket.   

Our neighbours Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India have already revised their tariffs this year, in response to these rising prices.  

So, why not start cultivating some good habits now by being more mindful of our energy consumption, for our planet, and our wallets.