The haze isn't only infamous for its harmful effects on the environment and health, but also notorious for its impact on our wallets.
Although Malaysians are starting to see brighter days ahead as the much-dreaded annual haze is starting to clear out, they are still at the risk of dire health impacts as air pollution index (API) readings in Kuala Lumpur float between an unhealthy range of 150 and 160 this week.
Readings in Sri Aman on the other hand have been reported to hit hazardous levels of above 400. And while the forecasted change in wind direction is predicted to improve the air quality over the weekend in East Malaysia, the Department of Environment (DoE) is still encouraging the public to take safety precautions.
Respective ministries have ordered schools to be closed and urged employers to implement work-from-home policies during this period to avoid prolong exposure to our smog-filled environment. This means more time spent at home, which also means extensive use of electricity!
Whereas those who still have to be out in the open, there is the tendency to do laundry more often, use e-hailing services, and (hopefully not) pay for medical bills if one has fallen sick from the haze. People are spending more on supplements to boost the immune system and of course, taking part in the tireless hunt for N95 masks.
So, for some of us, our monthly budget that has been set aside for living expenses may experience a sudden hike. But don't let these expenditures leave you in a daze from the haze as there are plenty of #BudgetHacks to help take safety precautions during this season.
Get your N95 masks — at the right price.
It's almost instinctual for many of us to run to the nearest pharmacy to get our hands on face masks the moment see or smell the haze... or for most, when our insides get triggered.
As a result, the sales of face masks have increased tremendously across the country just in September itself, as reported by Bernama. The N95 mask in particular, which is designed to filter out at least 95% of smaller particles up to 0.3 micron in size, have been wiped out the shelves of most stores — making it hard for some to obtain.
Thankfully, it has been declared as a price-controlled item under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011. Hence, traders are not allowed to raise its prices though no such cases have been reported. Phew!
Take note that the price for the N95 face mask has been set at a maximum of RM6 per piece and RM100 per box.
In addition, you could also stay on the lookout for N95 mask distribution initiatives as well. Local daily theSun reported the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) were distributing N95 masks around the region of Selangor, Putrajaya and Negeri Sembilan today.
Take naturally-sourced vitamins.
Everyone's always talking about how we're supposed to load up on Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Omega-3 fish oil and a bunch of other vitamins during this hazy season to boost our immune system. But let's face it: supplements are expensive.
There are plenty of affordable ways to obtain these vitamins and they can be sourced naturally from nutrient-rich food. For example oranges, kiwis, broccolis and pineapples are naturally packed with Vitamin C while peanuts, sunflower seeds, and spinach are natural source of Vitamin E. Both are packed with antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals.
Another low-cost alternative includes the good ol' H20. Drinking more water helps in flushing out toxins that has been absorbed by the skin and lungs.
Use electricity wisely.
More often than not, we gravitate towards blasting the a/c for long hours on regular days. Residents of the tropical region can obviously relate. So, what more when the haze hits and when we're encouraged to stay at home?
Practice switching off the air-conditioners once the room has been adequately cooled, and use the fan to help circulate the air. The latter consumes lesser electricity and is friendlier on the wallet!
While air purifiers are recommended to run for several hours depending on the device itself and size of the room, residents are encouraged to clean the air filters of their air-conditioner. A clogged air filter only means unfiltered air would be circulated around the house, which defeats the purpose of the air purifier. It also leads to long-term heating and cooling problems of the air-conditioner. Essentially, more money down the drain.
Seeing how this annual occurrence is an issue that Malaysia has been trying to snuff out for years, let's just say it’s best to stay informed and be prepared on how we can deal with the haze in a more thrifty manner.