KUALA LUMPUR: Consumers who have been heavily relying on air conditioners to cope with the hot weather are finding it costly indeed. Their electricity bills have spiked, many by three times or more.
Their heavy usage was reflected in the country’s electricity consumption reaching an all-time high peak demand of 17,175MW last month, according to Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).
Kelana Jaya resident Warren Fernandez is among those who experienced a shocking increase in the electricity bill in recent months, from just RM80 to between RM580 and RM650.
“I live with my sister, but for the last two months, we have had our mother and four relatives from America staying over as guests,” said Fernandez, who works in the hospitality industry.
“The heat has been unbearable lately, so we keep some of the aircon units switched on throughout the day to make sure that they are comfortable at home,” he said.
Joseph Wee, a long-time resident of Kelana Jaya, said he had no choice but to install air-conditioning in his living room recently because of the heat.
“I have lived here for more than 30 years and never felt the need to install air-conditioning,” he said.
“This month, the bill came up to slightly more than RM600. Before this, my bill would be in the range of RM150-RM170.
“I am shocked but not really surprised as I know that many households usually pay that much to live in air-conditioned comfort.”
Petaling Jaya resident Sashi Rajaratnam admitted that she used to be very careful with air-conditioning until the hot weather came about.
“I used to only use it for about two hours a day to cool the room before sleeping, but these days I’ve been using it every time I’m in my room,” she said, adding that her family’s electricity bill now costs them roughly RM600.
Engineer Michael Tan, 41, said he had to switch on the air conditioner in his living room after returning from work or else the heat would be unbearable.
“My power bill had also gone up by at least RM60 per month over the last three months as I’ve been using the air conditioner on a more frequent basis,” he said, hoping that the heatwave would come to an end soon.
TNB said last month that electricity consumption reached an all-time high peak demand of 17,175MW, breaking the record of 16,901MW from June 2014.
It said the increased consumer demand for energy came together with the hot and dry spell and higher air-conditioning usage.
However, TNB assured that the total installed capacity in peninsular Malaysia could still keep up with the demand and is able to generate up to 22,220MW.
A local environmental NGO, meanwhile, is advising users that setting the air conditioner to full blast might be an ineffective and expensive way to beat the heat.
Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia executive director Anthony Tan suggested that a more efficient way would be to use a fan together with air-conditioning to improve air circulation.
“Ideally, the aircon temperature should be set somewhere between 24°C and 26°C, with the blower set as low as possible,” he said.