Bright, power-saving ideas | Inquirer Opinion
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Bright, power-saving ideas

“BRIGHT IDEAS” is the name Meralco is giving to its customer information drive to “educate” long-suffering consumers who want to cut down their electricity bills. Or, as the company politely puts it, to educate consumers “on electricity cost and energy efficiency so they can make informed decisions on managing their consumption.”

According to Meralco, the average electricity consumption of a Filipino household is around 200 kWh, which is equivalent to P1,800-P2,500 per month. Such a household will most likely have a refrigerator, electric fan, flat iron, TV set and radio, says Meralco.


But more comfortable households would in all likelihood have more than one TV set, air-conditioners, and computers, cell phones and laptops/tablets, all of which are voracious consumers of electricity. For such families, electric bills will most likely hover around P5,000 a month and upward. Not a small amount, and certainly a huge bite out of the monthly budget.

Well, Meralco, through “Bright Ideas,” offers some tips for harried consumers who want to reduce their electricity bills without sacrificing their comfort or convenience. But be warned, complying with these tips may entail some additional expense at the start, although the initial cost would be offset in the long run, so it’s claimed.


But first a word about unplugging your appliances when not in use. The term used is “phantom load,” or “vampire power” or “vampire draw,” referring to the continued consumption of electricity even after an appliance has been turned off. Most commonly this refers to the “standby power” of appliances like TV sets and computers which, although they have been switched off (by remote control for TV sets) continue to consume electricity, which figures in your monthly bill.

The solution, says Joe Zaldarriaga of Meralco, is to unplug your appliance when not in use, or, if not that, to switch off a “power strip,” which allows your appliance to remain plugged in without consuming any power.

* * *

ASIDE from diligently monitoring that all appliances are turned off and unplugged, and that all lights are switched off when there’s no one in the room or the area, there are other ways to cut down on electric consumption.

One is in the choice of light bulbs and appliances, with new energy-saving technologies that allow for lower energy consumption.

Many are already familiar with the advantages to be gained from using LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. Although LED bulbs are for now more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they can bring savings in the long run. On a monthly basis, households can save as much as P13 a month on a 5-watt LED bulb compared to a 25-watt incandescent bulb.

As for TV sets, the LED television set which features a flat screen and looks sleeker than the old-fashioned model is actually an energy-saver as well. A household would save as much as P109 a month on a 24-inch LED TV compared to an older model, with electricity costs amounting to P1.50 per day with usage of six days a week.


About the biggest savings can be earned from using the new “induction heat cookers.” Although most Filipinos consider cooking with electricity much more expensive than using gas, the Meralco folk clarify that this is true for stoves using “coil” burners. But when using a single-burner induction heat cooker, they say, a household could save as much as P645 a month off their electricity bill (based on a usage of 28 hours a month). Using a gas stove, on the other hand, would cost as much as P1,109 a month, with the gas consumption translated into kilowatt per hour.

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A DECIDED advantage, though, is that the induction cooker is much safer than cooking with gas. We’re already familiar with gas leaks that cause fires and explosions, while the induction cooker is guaranteed safe, with a sales pitch that emphasizes that one can put one’s hand on an induction burner that’s turned on without feeling any heat.

“Besides,” says a Meralco spokesman, “you don’t have to contend with a rusty, ugly gas tank in your kitchen.”

By far the most energy-consuming appliances in a typical residence would be air-conditioners and refrigerators. But even for these, inverter technology has made lower electric bills possible.

An inverter window type air-conditioner, for instance, may be a bit more expensive than a conventional one, but with thermostat set at 25 degrees, one can save up to 50 percent of electricity costs for a conventional model.

Jullie Yap Daza of the Manila Bulletin reported that after she replaced her old refrigerator with an inverter model, which for now costs more than the conventional one, she saw her electricity consumption fall immediately, definitely meaning savings in the long run.

* * *

We teasingly inquire from the Meralco folk if “MVP,” meaning Meralco head Manny V. Pangilinan, plans to open a chain of appliance shops soon because they seem to be promoting so enthusiastically new models and new technologies of appliances.

But, they say, the appliance business is “too small for MVP” to bother himself with, and their “Bright Ideas” campaign is simply meant to help consumers cope with their power costs. Even if, to my mind, it also helps Meralco dispel periodic consumer uprisings when power costs go up.

“Don’t look at us, we’re just distributors,” declare the Meralco representatives. The real profiteers from the power situation, they say, are the power generators, of which San Miguel Corp. is the “biggest player” currently. Still, every centavo counts and whatever we can save from our power consumption should go to making life a little easier all around.

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TAGS: Electricity Bills, Manny V. Pangilinan, Meralco, Power
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