Category Archives: General

Lightning protection or hazard? Metal features on roof..

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Some owners of penthouse units at condominium Bedok Residences have avoided using the barbecue pits and jacuzzis on their private roof terraces when they saw that the lightning rods connect to the metal rails and facades of the units (above). However, while it seems counter-intuitive, checks reveal that the roof terrace and accompanying balustrades are safe

Talks are under way to revise a building code that regulates lightning protection to address safety in the growing number of roof terraces in housing developments.

Residents in at least one condominium development have avoided using their own private roof terraces since July last year over such concerns.

The lightning protection system at mixed-use development Bedok Residences has the lightning rods connected to the metal rails and facades of the rooftop units.

“I don’t even want my domestic helper to clean the area since lightning can strike at any time,” said resident Dennis Lim, who is in his 50s.

As a result, he and other residents have avoided using their barbecue pits and jacuzzis on their terraces.

Another resident, Ms Tay Min Li, in her 20s, said: “If I touch the metal rail and the lightning strikes elsewhere, won’t I be electrocuted?”

While it may seem counter-intuitive, checks have revealed that the roof terraces and accompanying balustrades are in fact safe.

Experts explained that the lighting protection system reduces the risk of injury thanks to the concept of “equipotential bonding”, in which metal parts on the roof are earthed if they are connected to the ground.

When lightning strikes, its electrical current will follow the path of least resistance to the ground through the metal instead of the human body, said Mr Ken Jung, vice-president of the Singapore Electrical Contractors and Licensed Electrical Workers Association.

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Both the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and developer CapitaLand Singapore confirmed that Bedok Residences’ lightning protection system was certified by a professional electrical engineer for its temporary occupation permit.

Professor Liew Ah Choy, who chairs the technical committee of the current lightning protection code, however, noted that given the increasing trend towards having accessible or private roof areas, the lighting protection code for roof terraces is being reviewed.

In its current state, the lightning protection code – Singapore Standards 555 (SS 555), which was introduced in 2010 – does not refer specifically to roof terraces, noted the National University of Singapore adjunct professor.

Similar systems can be seen at developments with publicly accessible roofs, such as Marina Bay Sands and the Pinnacle @ Dawson.

The Straits Times understands that one of the ideas mooted in the new lightning protection code involves parapet capping, where the entire edge of the roof is encased in metal.

Another possibility is a trellis, which functions as an enlarged lightning rod.

However, these fully metallic structures may actually look more alarming to some residents, said Mr Jung.

“Most people have a limited understanding as to how lightning works, so it is important to educate people on how a building’s lightning protection works,” he said.

The BCA spokesman said that as a precaution, residents who own units with roof terraces should stay indoors during inclement weather.

Most people have a limited understanding as to how lightning works, so it is important to educate people on how a building’s lightning protection works.

MR KEN JUNG, vice-president of the Singapore Electrical Contractors and Licensed Electrical Workers Association

 

Source : ST Singapore

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How to save on your utilities bill

Energy conservation is all the rage these days, but you don’t have to be an environmentalist to want to do your part. After all, being more conscious of your energy usage can also save you money. Here are some tips that are friendly to both the environment and your wallet.

by Cheryl Marie Tay

1. Cool off on cooling down

Amid the unbearable heat and humidity in Singapore, the air-conditioner is the messiah of appliances. But over-reliance on it can result in a hefty utilities bill. To ensure more controlled usage, you can set a timer on your air-conditioning unit whenever you use it.

If you sleep in an air-conditioned room, for instance, switch it on before you head to bed, and time it to switch off as your daily alarm goes off. Besides lowering your monthly utilities bill, the combination of the alarm and your warmer room is bound to get you out of bed.

2. Moneyed laundering

Laundry is a water-intensive chore, but modern technology has provided “smart” washers that can minimise your usage. Even with older machines, one simple way to conserve energy is to wash your clothes on a cold cycle, as more energy is required to heat the water for a warm cycle.

The energy rating on any appliance is important, and a high rating on a washer means it is water-efficient, which translates into cost savings as well. Washing a full load of laundry instead of a few smaller loads also helps to lower your energy and water usage.

3. Making light of things

Energy-saving when it comes to lighting is not just a simple matter of switching the lights off before you leave the room. Energy-efficient bulbs play a part as well, and the type of lighting you choose does make a difference.

The wattage of a bulb has to be within the capacity of the lighting fixture you intend to use it for, as too high a wattage not only consumes more energy, but presents a fire hazard. It also helps to do your research on the different kinds of commercially available light bulbs before you buy them. For example, halogen and LED bulbs tend to use less energy and therefore, save you more money.

4. Be green while you get clean

It’s common knowledge that shutting off the shower faucet while you shampoo your hair and lather yourself up saves a lot of water and drastically lowers your utilities bill. But what else can you do while showering to reduce your water usage?

For one, you do not always need to have the faucet at maximum strength. While a strong jet can get you clean more quickly, it tends to result in water wastage. If you are not conscientious enough to take note of such details, invest in a shower timer that lowers the jet strength towards the end of your shower.

5. Spend to save

It may seem prudent to buy cheaper appliances for your home in order to maximise your savings, but in the long run, it could cost you more. While energy-efficient products tend to be more expensive, they also lead to significantly lower utilities bills.

Think of your appliances as long-term investments. If you can afford it, the energy-efficient option is always superior. And since many electrical and appliance stores allow buyers to pay via monthly instalments, affordability may not be such a big issue after all.

6. Dishing out savings

Whether you own a dishwasher or wash your dishes the old-fashioned way, careful usage is imperative to lowering your utilities bill.

Like a washing machine, a dishwasher is more energy-efficient when using cold water for full loads. You don’t have to pre-rinse your dishes, and you can let them air-dry instead of using the dishwasher’s electric heat or fan. If you hand wash your dishes, be sure to apply dishwashing liquid to all the dishes before washing them. This saves not just water but also time.