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Need To Improve Energy Efficient Products In Malaysia

Written By David D'Angelo on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | 6/24/2008

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 (Bernama) -- A change in lifestyle can go a long way towards helping consumers cope with the increase in cost of living which has spiralled dramatically of late.

The urgency has become more demanding with the latest hike in gasoline pump price, a jump of some 40 per cent.

Technological advancement, however, would help consumers change their cost-inducing habits.

"It is not easy for many of us to change our lifestyle as we have been in the comfort zone for so long. But we have to face reality. We need to change to a more sustainable lifestyle to better manage our cost of living in the long run," said Piarapakaran Subramaniam, the programme manager of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) environment desk.

SAVING ENERGY

Saving energy is one of the changes that consumers need to adopt in their lifestyle.

"When we reduce our fuel or electricity bill, we have actually played a role in safeguarding the well-being of our planet.

"Over the past 100 years, we have not only seen our polar ice caps diminishing but the average temperature and sea levels are increasing too," explained Piarapakaran.

Although the natural energy usage is on the rise, most houses and offices rely on carbon-based energy plants (like diesel and natural gas) that release large amounts of carbon dioxide (the most prominent greenhouse gas).

ENERGY-EFFICIENT PRODUCTS

According to Piarapakaran, Malaysian consumers should now give a deeper thought to buying energy-efficient products.

"Energy saving is achieved when an electrical product uses energy more efficiently, meaning less energy is consumed to operate a particular product at normal capacity.

"This may be a small step on our part but a huge leap in changing our lifestyle," he said.

He said, some consumers have a wrong perception in the usage of 'small' electrical products.

Products such as fluorescent lamps do not only save energy but also reduce carbon emission.

"Some of these energy efficient products also have a longer operating life. Hence, this reduces raw material demands for production purposes.

"We need efficient, eco-friendly and durable products to change our lifestyle," he said.

PLUS SIDE OF ENERY-EFFICIENT PRODUCTS

To support his arguments on energy-efficient products, Piarapakaran worked out the following, using an air conditioner as an example.

A comparison is made between a normal 1.0 horsepower air conditioner using 1200 Watts of electricity to operate and a 1.0 horsepower energy efficient unit using 960 Watts of electricity to operate.

The yearly bill for the air conditioner is as follows (1000W = 1kW):-

Normal = 1.2kW x 365 days x 7 hours x RM0.25 (charges per kWh) = RM766.50

Energy Efficient = 0.96kW x 365 days x 7 hours x RM0.25 (charges per kWh) = RM613.20

"This small calculation shows that per year we can save about RM153.30 for our electricity bill. This numbers can be extended to the whole of Malaysia which tantamount to huge savings," said
Piarapakaran.

He cautioned customers to check labels and promises made by product advertisements or even by agents to safeguard them from false claims.

LACK OF PROMOTIONS

According to Piarapakaran, the Energy Commission under the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communication has introduced Energy Rating labels in 2005. However, the labels, he said was not duly promoted among consumers.

"Fomca conducted a survey on 1,000 respondents, and only some 5.0 per cent said they have seen the label".

In America, the US Environmental Agency (US EPA) introduced a voluntary labeling programme called 'Energy Star' in 1992, said Piarapakaran.

The programme was for identifying and promoting energy-efficient products with the aim of reducing emissions of green house gases.

He said in the EU countries, it is mandatory to have the energy- efficient products label for most products, including cars.

In Malaysia, most consumers are not interested with such products as the prices are slightly higher than those normal ones.

"Our consumers are more interested with cheaper products but they fail to realise that these products do not necessarily benefit us in the long run," he said.

Piarapakaran said to this date, the energy efficient label was only used for refrigerators and high-efficiency motors such as the building cooling system.

"There is a need to expand this to all basic household and office electrical goods. A scheme or a system to identify energy efficient products must be in place.

"These products should be displayed as a reference and benchmark for others to follow. In a way, this can also help consumers choose more energy efficient and eco-friendly products," he said.

He called on the relevant authorities to use the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to help educate consumers on how to purchase energy-efficient products.

TIPS TO USE LESS ENERGY

Piarapakaran said consumers need to know how to save or reduce energy consumption, be it at home or the office.

"Switching off electrical equipment helps in a way. Do not leave them on a standby as standby mode consumers electricity. Use sunlight to light up your office in the day time.

"Remember, saving electricity actually saves natural resources as the main energy input in Malaysia is from fossil fuel. Every Watts saved, saves the future," he said.

By Melati Mohd Ariff
-- BERNAMA

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