Need To Increase Usage Of Energy Efficient Products

By Melati Mohd Ariff

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- For those who use a lot of electrical appliances at home, there are ways to reduce the electricity bill and this include switching to energy efficient products.

In Malaysia, energy efficient products can be identified by the 5 star energy rating label on the products.

According to president of the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER), S. Piarapakaran energy efficient products use lower power input but still work like a normal electrical product.

He said the use of energy efficient electrical appliances could also help reduce carbon dioxide emission, which has been identified as one of the causes of global warming.

Based on the 2009 Energy Commission's statistics, Piarapakaran said domestic sector consumed about 20 per cent of total national electricity consumption and produced 12.17 million tons of carbon dioxide.

"If the electricity consumption by the domestic sector can be reduced with some savings among the commercial sector and industry, it will not only reduce cost but also contribute to environmental well-being," he said.

CHEAP PRODUCTS

However, consumers should be wary of low quality energy efficient products.

This is Piarapakaran's advice to consumers who may have made decision to purchase energy efficient products.

He explained that in order to control the production and marketing of energy efficient products, a standard known as "Minimum Energy Performance Standard" (MEPS) was introduced.

Most developed countries, especially in the European market (EU) and parts of Asia Pacific have started to enforce stricter MEPS for some product categories.

Among the products are refrigerators, air conditioners, lighting, electric kettle, vacuum cleaners and washing machines.

He said as a result of the stringent MEPS regulations, non-energy efficient products could not be sold in countries that have enforced MEPS.

"These products then flood countries like Malaysia that does not have laws or regulations that restrict the entry of non-energy efficient products," said Piarapakaran.

STILL LOW

The use of energy efficient products in Malaysia is still at an unsatisfactory level although MEPs have long been implemented in developed countries and in some Southeast Asian countries.

According to Piarapakaran, Malaysian consumers were more likely to buy energy inefficient products as they were cheaper.

He said those who bought such products might not be aware that the products would be consuming high electricity throughout the product's lifespan.

"With the subsidy rationalisation program undertaken by the government, the cost of the electricity tariff is expected to increase further.

"This will definitely burden consumers in the long run if they continue to use such products," he said.

LOCAL MARKET

In the Malaysian market, the most widely sold energy-efficient products are lighting products that represent more than 60 per cent market share.

Piarapakaran added that other energy efficient products still hold low market share in Malaysia.

"In surveys and consultation with retailers and small shops, we found that it is more due to high initial investment cost and the absence of comprehensive implementation of 5 star energy efficiency labeling," he said.

On the steep prices of energy efficient products, Piarapakaran said it was caused by the cartel and profiteering on part of the suppliers and manufacturers of such products.

"Sometimes, the price of energy efficient products can reach two to 10 folds higher as compared with non-energy efficient products," he said.

Asked whether the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would affect the price of energy efficient products, Piarapakaran said the tax is for branded goods.

"Based on the criteria, GST will be imposed on many energy efficient products.

"AWER urges the Finance Ministry to exempt GST on energy efficient products that are free from cartel and profiteering.

"At the moment, nearly all energy efficient products are adopting cartel and profiteering attitude," he added.

MINIMUM STANDARDS

According to Piarapakaran, local authorities began to implement MEPS in 2014 after AWER reported its findings in 2012 that highlighted the dumping of cheap and non-energy efficient products locally.

AWER has been conducting a study on the energy efficiency of electrical and electronics products in Malaysia since 2011 and has been communicating the findings since 2012.

This study was part of Sustainable Production and Consumption project sponsored by the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

However, according to Piarapakaran, the MEPS prescribed by Energy Commission at the moment was of a lower standard.

This, he said, has resulted in the dumping of non-energy efficient products in the Malaysian market.

Such products include refrigerators and air conditioners that do not pass the MEPS standards in other countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Europe.

He stressed that the Energy Commission has to address this issue to avoid Malaysia becoming a dumpsite of old technology and non-energy efficient products.

"The commission must immediately enhance our MEPS to be at par with other countries so that products that failed MEPS in other countries will not flood the Malaysian market.

"Only then our government can ensure the industry that complies with laws in Malaysia (including the Competition Act and MEPS) stand to benefit.

"This will also encourage more energy efficient products to enter Malaysian market," he said.

-- BERNAMA