Dubai is ranked the third most expensive city in the Middle East. And although it is tax-free (for now), it seems many residents find their salaries are stretched towards the end of the month.
As a rule of thumb, a tenant or home owner is meant to spend no more than 30% of their salary on housing expenses. But this rule is often ignored, especially during the hot summer months. The idea of living without AC all day and night is not even worth thinking about. Keeping cool is a necessity.
DEWA (Dubai Electricity & Water Authority) has said that urban residents in Dubai have one of the highest carbon footprints per capita in the world.
So how much of your monthly salary is spent on your DEWA bill and how can you reduce that cost?
The average charge per month on a DEWA bill will change depending on the size of where you live but also how smart you are with your consumption. It’s estimated that there’s an average of 20,000 kilowatt-hours per person annually in the UAE, and that UAE residents use an average of 550 litres of water per day.
Saving on AC
The big one, though, is that air conditioning makes up almost 70% of Dubai’s electricity consumption.
As a result, during the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see your DEWA bill almost double. Trying to survive the desert heat, where temperatures can rise to over 50 C and humidity reach overs 80% then it’s only natural to want to have your AC on all the time.
However, what most people don’t know is that bills can skyrocket if AC units aren’t looked after properly. Without regular maintenance, the air conditioning unit loses 5% of its original efficiency per year. What’s more, an AC system that is 10% low on refrigerant (the fluid used in a heat pump and refrigeration cycle) will not only cost 20% more to operate but will also result in expensive repairs in the future.
According to a study from propertyfinder.ae, for a couple living in a one-bedroom apartment with a salary of AED 20,000 to AED 25,000, the average utility spend in Dubai is AED 700 a month. Combined with the rental cost of living in an AED 80,000-per-year apartment, this puts monthly housing expenses at around 35% of the average couple’s salary – 5% above the recommended spending cap. And with children, the average percentage spent on housing expenses is even higher – at almost 50%.
So, what do you do to fix this problem – particularly if AC bills aren’t included in your rent?
First thing’s first, you should install a programmable thermostat. This can control your AC temperature settings, giving you greater control on managing the temperature of your home. You can also schedule and set desired temperatures at certain times of the day – DEWA advises that you should set the AC temperature to a comfortable 24 C. This one is especially important when trying to save money on your bill. The higher the temperature the AC thermostat is set at, the less energy it uses. By changing the thermostat temperature by just one degree Celsius, you can save up to 6% on your electricity consumption.
Another good money-saver would be buying an energy-efficient AC unit. You can find these are readily available in the market; look for units with a SEER Rating (Seasonable Energy Efficacy Rating) of at least thirteen. Using one of these units can shave up to 40% off the cost of running your AC. Well worth the purchase.
In summer 2016, DEWA launched its ‘Let’s Make This Summer Green’ campaign, advising customers to refrain from using appliances and AC during peak hours. This not only allows you to save money, but also helps Dubai to reduce its carbon footprint. Check out the campaign and see if you can stick to its guidelines.
Other tips and tricks
If you find AC is not the only reason as to why your bill is high, water consumption is also a big problem for the UAE. Most water is consumed while irrigating gardens. To reduce this consumption, you can adopt a drip irrigation system. This allows water to drip slowly to the roots of plants through a network of valves, pipes, tubing and emitters. And you can reset the flow of the sprinkler system over various seasons to suit the need of plants and the lawn.
If irrigation doesn’t concern you, then flushing could solve your problems. Disposing of waste in the toilet could lead to unnecessary flushing, so always be sure to put waste in the bin. And reducing shower time by two minutes could save 120 gallons of water each month.
Elsewhere, there are plenty of common-sense approaches to reducing your energy bill. Everyone knows to turn off lights when leaving a room, switch off appliances when not using them and only ever use a full dishwasher, just to name a few. But whether we remember to do these things is something else.
However, if you stick with all these tips and tricks, although they seem small, you could end up saving a ton of money on your DEWA bills.
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