Independent stores in voucher scheme help elderly consumers with energy- and water-saving appliances, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Independent stores in voucher scheme help elderly consumers with energy- and water-saving appliances

Nestled between several Housing Board blocks in Clementi West is Woodlands Domestic Electrical, a shop that stocks a wide range of electronics and electrical appliances.

The store opened in Woodlands in 1973, but moved to Clementi in 1979. Now, it is one of 14 stores where consumers can from April 15 redeem their e-vouchers to purchase energy- and water-efficient appliances, under the expanded Climate Friendly Households Programme.

The programme, launched in November 2020, allows HDB households to redeem e-vouchers to offset the cost of environmentally friendly appliances.

Under the initial scheme, only one- to three-room HDB flats were eligible for $225 worth of vouchers, which can be used for LED lights, refrigerators and shower fittings. The voucher amount is fixed for each category – a $150 voucher for energy-saving refrigerators, a $50 voucher for water-saving shower fittings and a $25 voucher for LED lights.

But under the expanded programme announced by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment on March 4, all HDB households will receive $300 in vouchers which can be used to purchase 10 types of energy- and water-saving appliances and fittings, such as air-conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators.

The initial tranche of vouchers will expire on March 20. The new vouchers will be valid until Dec 31, 2027.

Of the 14 retailers under the programme, Woodlands Domestic Electrical stands out as one of only a handful of independent retailers.

Woodlands Domestic Electrical stands out as one of only a handful of independent retailers. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The others are T.S. Yong Trading and Chuan Heng Hardware Trading, while the remaining are large chains such as Best Denki, Gain City and Cold Storage.

Owners of the independent retailers told The Sunday Times that their customers, mostly senior citizens, are keen to use their e-vouchers to purchase more energy- and water-efficient appliances, but can sometimes feel daunted by the redemption process.

Therefore, they prefer to make their purchases from the shops they are familiar with in their neighbourhoods.

At Woodlands Domestic Electrical, one of the latest stores to join the programme, co-owner Diane Pan said she joined the programme in the middle of 2023, after receiving inquiries from customers who wanted to buy the environmentally friendly appliances.

Many of her elderly customers are unsure about the redemption process, she said, and prefer approaching someone they are familiar with for help.

“These seniors like to shop at our outlet because they feel very comfortable with our staff, who have been working here for many years. Even before we joined the programme, some of them were unsure of how to redeem their vouchers and came to ask for help, so we directed them to the official website and other retailers,” added Ms Pan, who is in her 60s.

Woodlands Domestic Electrical co-owner Diane Pan said many of her elderly customers are unsure about the redemption process. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Ms Pan said the National Environment Agency (NEA) had reached out to Woodlands Domestic Electrical at least two to three times via e-mail to ask the store to join the programme in 2020.

She held back on joining then, as her store’s point of sale (POS) system was not compatible with the voucher system. But after receiving many inquiries from customers about the programme, Ms Pan decided to upgrade the POS system to NEA’s requirements in mid-2023.

A spokesman for the NEA said retailers who wish to join the programme should meet a few criteria, which include having a physical POS system that is integrated with the RedeemSG digital voucher system and is able to scan QR codes.

Ms Pan said that since the expanded scheme was announced on March 4, more than 100 customers have already approached the shop to inquire about the climate-friendly appliances.

One of Woodlands Domestic Electrical’s long-time customers is Mr Masin Abdullah, 62, a ship boarding officer. “I’ve been buying products from them for more than 30 years. My office used to be a 10-minute drive away. It was very convenient for me,” he said.

He added: “I will be using my new climate vouchers to buy a ceiling fan from the shop because the one I have at home is quite old.”

As a user of energy-efficient and water-saving appliances herself, Ms Pan believes in educating her customers about the benefits of using such products to save money and conserve energy.

“While these climate-friendly appliances may be more expensive, they consume less energy in the long run. That’s why we have always encouraged our customers to purchase them,” she said.

At T.S. Yong Trading, an independent appliance shop located in Geylang East, owner Yong Teck Chai, 60, also observed a similar trend of elderly customers being daunted by the e-voucher redemption process.

Established in 1986 at Jalan Sultan, the shop moved to Aljunied Avenue 2 in 1989 and has since been a mainstay in the Geylang East estate.

Mr Yong said some of his customers were not aware of the programme even after the initial tranche of vouchers were introduced.

“Some did not know how to register for the programme. I’ll get these customers to take a picture of the official QR code in my shop with their mobile phones so that their children can help them to register with their Singpass account and do the necessary at home,” Mr Yong said.

The store has been part of the Climate Friendly Households Programme from the start, and Mr Yong said shower fittings and LED lights were the top two items purchased with the e-vouchers.

He added: “Selling such appliances is a good way to help my regular customers to save money and conserve energy.”

Another independent retailer that has been in the scheme since the beginning is Chuan Heng Hardware Trading, which has been operating in Jalan Besar since 1982.

Operations manager Joe Toh said: “I see this scheme as an opportunity to give back to the community by selling my participating items at an affordable price and to achieve the environmental goals set forth by NEA and PUB.”

He added: “Singapore has been facing warmer temperatures for the past decade and the temperature is projected to rise by 5 deg C by the end of the century. In the long run, we will be using more energy and resources to cool down our homes, workplaces, places for leisure and ourselves.”

He also noted: “Our greeneries require water maintenance as well. If we do not make every drop of water count now, how do we ensure our future generations have enough to use?”

From April 15, all HDB residents can claim their $300 worth of e-vouchers by logging on to RedeemSG ( using their Singpass account.

The vouchers will be in denominations of $2, $5, $10 and $50. Residents can then present the vouchers at any of the 14 participating retailers along with their NRIC, bank statements or utility bills.

The NEA spokesman said that the agency and the RedeemSG team have been training retailers in preparation for the launch of the enhanced programme.

Retailers who are interested in participating in the enhanced Climate Friendly Households Programme can write to NEA at