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A time to chill as S’poreans beat the heat

SINGAPORE — The sweltering heat has driven Singaporeans to seek relief in a number of ways, from installing air-conditioners and taking longer cold showers, to escaping to air-conditioned shopping malls and swimming pools to cool off.

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SINGAPORE — The sweltering heat has driven Singaporeans to seek relief in a number of ways, from installing air-conditioners and taking longer cold showers, to escaping to air-conditioned shopping malls and swimming pools to cool off.

And some businesses have been given a boost by the oppressive heat, with electrical retailers seeing marked increases in the sale of appliances like air-conditioners and pedestal fans over the past two months, and some ice-cream vendors doing a roaring trade.

While April is typically the hottest month of the year — last month saw the maximum temperature hit a decade-high of 36.7°C — temperatures have remained uncomfortably warm since. Maximum temperatures are expected to remain high between 34°C and 35°C over the next three days, according the Meteorological Service Singapore’s forecast.

Retailer Harvey Norman has seen air-cooler sales surge by more than 200 per cent and single split air-conditioner sales increase by 80 per cent, compared to the same period last year. The increase in sales, the firm said, could be because air-coolers are a quick and more economical solution to beating the heat, while single-split units are being installed in rooms that previously did not have air-conditioning.

Courts Singapore has also seen brisker sales in the cooling department. “There has been an increase in the sale of air-cons and fans compared to (April) last year, with air-con sales comparatively stronger than fans. This is mostly attributable to the rising temperature,” said Ms Ong Siow Yu, Head of Domestic Appliances & Cooling at Courts Singapore.

Shops in the heartlands said they have seen sales and service calls spike by around 20 to 40 per cent. “While air-conditioners may cool the room adequately during cooler periods such as in December, problems usually surface when they are pushed harder to keep the room cool during the hot season,” said Mdm Florence Lim, 60, owner of Aircold Electro-Mart, which sells and services air conditioners.

Mr Tan Ah Hock, 72, who has been selling ice cream on the streets since 1967, said “more people buy ice cream during the hot weather”, although sudden downpours can be a dampener on his business at Orchard Road.

More have also been observed to be flocking to public pools to cool off over the past two months. Mr Raymond Tan, 27, a lifeguard at Sengkang Swimming Complex, has noticed an increase in visitors by about 15 to 20 per cent compared to cooler months.

“Recently, there is an increase in number of bathers appearing at the pool due to the hot weather, to either take a dip or swim,” said Mr Tan, who also runs a swimming school.

Driven by the heat at home, Mdm Nur Atikah, a homemaker in her thirties, brought her three-year-old daughter to the Yishun Swimming Complex to swim.

“It is so hot at home. I thought it’d be a perfect opportunity for my daughter to cool down while learning how to swim at the same time,” she said.

Undergraduate Ms Vanessa Lim, 20, and her family, on the other hand, have turned to shopping malls.

“My family goes down to the shopping malls more often now to have our meals, especially when the weather is hot,” she said.

In a bid to stay cool, Joshua Ng, 17, and his family moved their television from the living room to the master bedroom of their four-room flat — the only room equipped with air conditioning. “Our family spends most of our time in the bedroom now,” said the student.

Another family devised a home-made solution to beat the heat: “We would place a bowl of ice in the room and turn up the fan ... It helps to cool down the room a little,” said homemaker Mdm Alice Pang, 53.

Turning on the air-conditioners and fans at home has also made some conscious of the cost of keeping cool. Mr Jeremy Ng, 42, who works in retail, noted how for every air-conditioner he turns on in the house — usually for eight hours a day — his electricity bill goes up by about S$100.

“We have just installed a new multi-split inverter system last month and it should save us more money in the long run while cooling our house better,” said Mr Ng, who lives with a family of five.

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