Hot days spell record electricity use
By Marc LourdesKUALA LUMPUR: The heatwave has resulted in an unprecedented spike in electricity usage — Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) statistics revealed that two records were set in less than a week recently.
On Feb 4, power demand stood at 14,384MW. Six days later, that record was broken when TNB registered a new peak maximum demand of 14,417MW.
For the financial year 2008-2009, the average maximum demand was 13,501MW.
The utility company surmised that the spike, apart from normal-load growth, could be due to the current hot weather.
The major contributors to the high load were the air-conditioning systems from commercial and domestic customers,” it said in response to a query from the New Sunday Times.
According to the Global Development Research Centre, an air-conditioning unit cooling a room for eight hours emits close to 0.7kg of carbon (kgC).
In comparison, a wide-screen TV running for the same length of time exudes just 0.1kgC.
TNB advised consumers to use electricity prudently. It said setting air-conditioning thermostats to between 22° and 26° Celsius, turning off lights and other electrical appliances and using energy efficient appliances should be a practice.
However, Centre For Environ ment, Technology And Development Malaysia (Cetdem) chairman Gur mit Singh said the inefficiency of air-conditioners was the main reason they sucked up so much power.
“The trouble is air-conditioning units are inefficiently run. Electricity is cheap. So, people don’t bother maintaining their units properly and end up using more electricity.”
Cetdem, Gurmit said, had been pushing for energy efficiency at houses, offices and shopping com plexes.
Malaysia’s electricity, according to him, was one of the cheapest in Asean and “definitely cheaper than in Europe”.
“Manufacturers always argue that electricity has to be cheap in order for them to be productive.
“But my question, is how are Thai companies competitive despite higher electricity prices?”
He added that studies showed that insulating roofs could reduce internal temperatures by an average of 3°C.
“I’ve insulated the roof of my house. On Feb 16, the outside temperature was 36°C. In my house, it was 29°C.”
Gurmit said although air-conditioners worsened climate change because of their emissions, the usual knee-jerk reaction was to turn them higher as temperatures increase.
“We should instead be retrofitting houses, insulating roofs and walls as well as closing windows and doors during the day.
“This is what we should be doing to adapt to climate change. After all, do we want knee-jerk reactions or long-term solutions?” he asked.
Gurmit said that at RM3,000 to RM4,000 a pop, insulating a roof was not expensive.
Cetdem has forwarded suggestions to the government to provide incentives for people to retrofit their houses under the 10th Malaysia Plan.