With the summer months ahead, the time where being inside with an open window leaves you at just the right temperature will soon be coming to an end. In the past, this meant the beginning of the Cool Biz season, Japan’s crafty invitation to company workers to leave their neckties and warmer jackets at home, as well as the (over)-use of air-conditioners.
In post 3/11 Japan however, saving energy, setsuden has become the maxim, and the nation’s hot and humid summer will prove to be its first major test. In order to avoid another round of blackouts, we present to you a number of helpful tips and pieces of advice on how everyone can contribute to a hopefully smooth summer.
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As mentioned above, cutting down on the use of air conditioners, at home and at work, will be one of the most decisive measures, resulting most probably in the necessity for multiple showers a day. Setting the desired temperature to something around 28, 29 degrees does in fact help. However, instead of non-stop sweating, the use of a fan also manages to make things a lot more bearable. For one thing, fans are far more energy efficient than ACs could ever be, and they also come with the handy side effect of not drying up the air to desert levels. If you happen to be an admirer of Japanese gadgets, then you should watch out for the new USB powered animal shaped fans for your office desktop. Finally, sleeping with wrapped ice packs under your pillow or using cooling mats is also a popular way of surviving Japanese summer nights.
The disconnecting of any unnecessary electronics while you are not at home, or not using them, is another way to not only help with setsuden, but also to let your electric bill appear a lot more friendly. By turning off lights in rooms you aren’t actually in, limiting the use of stand-by modes on electronic devices and unplugging the washlet (should you have one), it is easily possible to almost halve your energy consumption and thus your electric bill. Also, the eco trend of the recent years in Japan has resulted in Japanese-made home appliances becoming increasingly energy efficient. Therefore, if you wish to actively help in the setsuden movement, while saving energy costs, purchasing a Japanese eco-model would probably be a good choice. Also, they are made to fit smaller size Japanese apartments, leaving you with valuable extra space.
Since it probably isn’t that enjoyable to eat warm dishes in summer anyway, refraining from using the cooker, and instead experimenting with salads and other types of cold foods also helps. Just as much as slightly raising the designated temperature inside your fridge and keeping it a little emptier than usual, which also cuts down on power usage.
Last but not least, simply spend as much time as possible outside. If parks are too hot for you, you will still be able to catch “public” air conditioners at restaurants, shops or department stores.
As you can see, while the convenience of Japan, which many of its foreign residents have quickly become accustomed to, may temporarily have become a thing of the past, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. By applying just a few of the above tips, you not only do your part in conserving much needed energy this summer, but are effectively left with more money at the end of it. In fact, recently TEPCO has announced a special summer campaign, which is scheduled to start in the middle of June. All TEPCO customers can register online with their customer numbers, and compare their recent energy consumption with the data of last year. For those that have managed to cut their usage by 15% or more, a number of special privileges are available. These include: free energy saving light bulbs, cinema tickets and other eco-vouchers. What are you waiting for?