Energy Diet

Finding the Bills, and Ways to Cut Costs

Our air conditioner shows us the total cost daily from usage. On this day: 59 yen (less than $1)

Our air conditioner shows us the total cost daily from usage. On this day: 59 yen (less than $1)

I found I am an energy waster.

Wow! The producer of this site requested our tally of bills. Immediately I felt lousy, frankly.

Both my wife, Mariko, and I tried to find these bills just casually.

We had put them somewhere in a box. But once we set out to find them, it took quite a lot of time and effort to find one.

Mariko found two recent receipts of electricity and water. However, there are no records for previous months, nor did we have gas receipts.

We were not concerned about our expenditures on these bills. This might seem to suggest that we are exceptionally inattentive to costs, but 90% of Japanese probably do not care about analyzing their energy costs. We pay attention to the amount of our bills. But we do not focus on our wasteful usage of energy.

I started to search for my records on energy companies’ websites. Gas is supplied by Tokyo Gas Co. The site was well organized, and it was easy to find my own bill. Furthermore, the site has information to help customers reduce their gas usage – in particular, their CO2 list, with 27 suggestions, is superb. Each action on the list is accompanied by a rough indication of possible CO2 reductions.

For example, the site says that filling the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand saves 14.3 kg per month in greenhouse gas emissions. In an instant, we could do 15 out of 27 things on the list, a savings of 64.99 kg of CO2 per month.

For electricity, it was much harder to find records. The Tokyo Electric Power Company site was complicated. I phoned them to get some help on finding the consumer page and encountered a long process to get a personal ID. The site is getting popular among users because it contains information on new systems that may economize cost and CO2. I am still waiting for an ID to log in to my personal page on that site. People are getting much more energy-conscious.

However, I did introduce the reform of eight LED lights and nine fluorescent light bulbs in my flat. That should save me up to 43.9 kg CO2 per month, according to information from the Tokyo Electric Power site.

What I found is, for ordinary consumers, it is not easy to keep bills and to analyze energy consumption. Energy companies must provide much easier access to individuals who want to know their consumption. I wish we had local personal energy meter in Japan. I found from research how much we could economize CO2 spent if we substitute innovative eco-friendly products.

I will continue struggling to find ways to do so.