Energy Diet

Surfers awaiting waves on Sagami Bay in front of my flat

Surfers awaiting waves on Sagami Bay in front of my flat

Around February 26, Japanese traditional calendar moves into a season known as “First flow of mist.” We do not use this old calendar system anymore. Still, I believe this wording represents the softening of these days in between winter and spring very accurately.

From our flat by the shore, the early morning view of mountains over Sagami Bay is less vivid than one week ago, when it was very cold and the air was clearer. Spring is definitely coming to town.

  • Almost of all items the energy diet suggested to economize energy consumption at home are easy ones for me.
  • We do not use an automated heating system. When we use heater only when we need it.
  • The refrigerator was at a very mild setting. We do not open refrigerator frequently. We have only one, and it is very new.
  • We changed almost two-thirds of our light bulbs to CFLs and LEDs last November.
  • The water heater is insulated properly.
  • All the electronic equipment we use meets the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS).
  • We always hang clothes up to dry.
  • The main issues are taps and electrical outlets. Do we unplug everything completely when it’s not being used? We’re rushing to catch the train to the office in the morning. It is impossible! We do not!

    This was my frank opinion toward this particular energy diet suggestion. But, I understand rationally that we must do this diet as well as we can, and we must be using a huge amount of unnecessary electricity.

    I thought I must find smart equipment that help us produce the same results as unplugging devices manually. Wow, there are many terrific devices in the market I have never noticed.

    By the way, have you ever counted how many appliances connect with outlets in your house? I had never done it, but I did. It is 37 as follows:

    Water Pot
    Electric range
    Coffee maker
    Wine cooler

    Washing machine
    Automated lavatory basin

    Living room
    Flat panel TV set
    CATV tuner
    DVD recorder
    Video recorder
    FM tuner
    Heater (small)
    Floor stand light
    Desk top light
    Desk top pot warmer

    Individual rooms
    3 PCs
    IPod cradle
    Independent hard disc
    2 mobile cradles
    Wi-Fi cradle
    Paper shredder
    Trousers press
    2 air conditioners
    2 spot heaters
    3 desktop lights

    Almost all of these electrical taps are kept flowing 24 hours a day. We also have a couple of interconnected systems such the TV, video player and DVD player that we use just certain hours in a day. Our PCs and relative peripherals are another example.

    I bought some smart devices in the shop as follows:

  • Plug-In Wattage Calculator: ¥2940 ($36)
  • Power outlet with switch: ¥660 ($8)
  • Power strip for PCs: ¥2597 ($31)
  • Power strip with wattage meter: ¥2980 ($36)
  • Buying the wattage calculator was worthwhile. This one indicates current flow as kilowatt hours, consumption of CO2 as kilograms, cost per hour and total cost. I put this one on TV system outlet from midnight to 7 o’clock in the morning without using the TV. This seven hours of consumption was 0.06 kilowatt hours, 0.03 kilograms of CO2, ¥1 (1 cent) and ¥0.2 (.2 cents) per hour. It may not seem like a lot, but 0.03 kilograms × 50 million households in Japan equals 1,500 tons of CO2 consumed every night in one country without doing anything.

    Then I checked meter time to time after this. What I found is that average usage of TV set for 5 days cost ¥0.3 (.3 cents) per hour. Approximately 2/3 of electricity we spent was when we were not watching TV. Having this confirmed by the figures, we could not let the situation stay as it was. Now we have a power strip with a switch connected to the outlet, which is a much more convenient way for us to turn off all the appliances connected to the TV.

    For the PC, there are more peripherals connected. The PC-synchronized strip is smart. This device remembers the difference of current between on and off. When we start to use the PC and peripherals, all the needed power is supplied. But when we turn it off, the power supply is automatically cut. I used this for our floor heater as well.

    I don’t have perfect measurements on the results for these devices, but I am seeing a visible reduction in waste. And so I’ve learned another method of energy-dieting.


    1. clipton
      March 2, 2011, 9:29 am

      I like how you counted all the appliances and can also measure current energy consumption. It is the most important step. Great devotion, Tatsuo.

    2. Tatsuo
      March 2, 2011, 8:24 pm

      Hi Cad ,
      Thank you for your comment.
      It is not so difficult to count line up of appliances. But, it is difficult to do actually. How can we recommend mass consumers realize it is worthwhile to do?
      We are doing this management in the office as corporate management ethics. But scarcely do at home.