With the energy problems in Tokyo, I noticed how much energy people waste. When I’m not paying for it, I know I waste energy like a Greenpeace hating person, but when I’m at home, I’m as stingy as can be. I learned how to save money just by learning how to do it safely. I am amazed at how hard it is for Japanese people to save energy. Sometimes I can understand but for the most part I can’t. I have seen people who have reduced their energy savings for a 4 bedroom house to less than 2000 yen a month. That’s an entire house! My 2 bedroom apartment averages 3000 yen a month but there are a lot of factors that lead to that.The best way to save energy is to just stop using it. It is easier said than done, but it can be done. The first thing to do is to evaluate the need of an air conditioner or heater. At home, I use the air conditioner roughly 5 times a year. I have been using it more in the summer with my new place but that is more to do with the dynamics of my apartment. In the winter, it is cold and I sometimes see my own breath when it’s humid enough. Yes, my room gets that cold. I often wear sweaters in my room to help. When I sleep, I often use at least 3 blankets. I also tend to cocoon myself under blankets so my head is also covered. It takes time to get used to it, but it does work to save energy. In the summer time, losing clothes is best, but not always practical. Walking around naked when the curtains are open is not ideal. 🙂 I often just suffer and do my best with the heat. Lots of water and getting out is best. When it’s winter, one great way to add heat is to watch TV or use the computer. If you have a laptop, it makes a great “blanket”. I often watch TV and use my computer at night when it’s the winter. In the summer I tend to turn off the TV a lot earlier because it gets too hot. Turning off electronics is the best way to reduce the heat in a room when it’s too hot.Lighting can be your friend and your enemy. I often turn off all of my lights at night and leave the TV on. I watch TV all the time at night and it’s enough light for me to walk around. Of course I turn on the lights when I get some water or do something that needs light, but otherwise the lights are off. Having small lights, such as a nightlight, also helps a lot. For some people they need light to feel comfortable, or safe. I generally need it when I visit someones home or a hotel, but for my place I don’t mind being in the dark. The more energy I can conserve, the less we have to generate from various fossil fuels, damming rivers, or creating nuclear power plants. Changing from a high watt light bulb to a lower light one helps too. My lights have 3 settings on them. Bright, slightly darker, and night light. I often use the slightly darker setting which uses less energy. It might feel dark but at least it’s okay. I also use flashlights when I go to bed as it uses less energy overall. By flashlight I actually mean the LED light on my phone. LED lights use very little energy which makes it more ideal.
A lot of people tell me that I should be unplugging my phone chargers and other things like that. From reports that I heard, unplugging the phone charger has such a small impact that it doesn’t make a huge difference in your electric bill. I still do it because every little bit does help, but I don’t worry if I forget. I do worry more about my printer. I rarely use it so I don’t mind unplugging it all the time and plugging it in when I do need it. Buying power bars with the option to stop the flow of energy is ideal for this situation. You never have to unplug it, just flick a switch. Overall, my biggest problem is electronics. I love electronics and I’m guilty of using them too much. My PC is on almost 24/7, but I do turn it off at night and when I’m at work. I tend to keep the TV on even when I’m not really watching. I also use my phone 24/7 on top of my PC use. Keeping connected is part of who I am and it’s something I can’t really change. Updating my electronics does help reduce consumption to some degree, but the gains in computing power doesn’t help either. I tend to upgrade computers that last longer overall but consume the same amount of power due to gains in computing power. For this reason it’s unlikely that I will ever cut down on my electricity use with electronics. It’s more than likely to increase. One good thing that I do all the time is to really turn off my TV. Most TVs have two functions, the remote control and the power button on the TV itself. When using the TV power button, you physically cut power to the TV. Using the remote puts it into sleep mode. It still uses power in order to either keep the TV warm so it has an instant start up or keeping enough energy for the IR sensor to pick up the remote. For me, I have a habit to turn it on and off on the TV itself whenever I leave it for a period.
One point to keep aware of, the time before work and just after work are the peak periods of power consumption. Finding ways to cut power for 2 or 3 hours during that period is the most critical. Many people won’t care and will continue to consume power the way they like to. Others will try to change their habits. Overall, this will create a better balance overall but changing your habits will definitely help. I hope some of this can help you save energy. I know it can be very hard to change habits and I’m very much a creature of habit. If you yourself can do some of this, perhaps you can help conserve energy wherever you are, not just Tokyo.
Note: This is part of a series of posts that I am writing after the major earthquake in the Tohoku region. I am not writing up to my own personal standards so the quality will be a little lower than my typical blog posts. I have decided to wait another 2 weeks from today before I return to my regular style of posts. I may add a few more posts regarding the situation in Tokyo but it will really depend on my own personal feelings about the situation.
Saving Power in Tokyo is part of a series of posts following the earthquake in Japan. Please continue reading the following posts in this series:
- The Great 2011 (Higahi-Nihon) East Japan Earthquake
- March 14, 2011
- March 17, 2011
- Kobe Refugee (Media Musings)
- The New Normal (After the 2011 Great Higashi-Nihon Earthquake)
- 1 Year Later