Cut your electricity use this summer

You may have heard or seen the word “setsuden (節電)” being used a lot lately. Setsuden is Japanese for conserving energy. In the aftermath of the events in Fukushima and our own Shika power plant still closed, the Hokuriku area (and all of Japan) is trying to conserve as much energy as they can this summer. Last week, Hokuriku Electric Power Company sent out informational fliers telling people how to conserve energy in their homes. More useful tips are also available at the HEPC website, unfortunately they are all in Japanese so here’s some of the main points that you can do to cut back on your summer energy usage.

Remember, cutting your energy usage benefits you in the form of a smaller electricity bill every month.

Air Conditioner

  1. Set your air conditioner temperature to 28º C. (Estimated energy savings: 10%)
    Let’s face it, you don’t need to keep your room at a crisp 23-25º. I’ve kept my room at 28º for the past week and it’s kept me plenty cool. Keeping your room at a warmer temperature also prevents that jarring shock when you step outside into warmer temperatures.
  2. Hang bamboo or reed curtains outside your windows. (Estimated energy savings: 10%)
    Hanging these curtains outside your windows blocks harsh sunlight from entering your room keeping it a little cooler.
  3. Use your air conditioner less. (Estimated energy savings: up to 50%)
    Summer is hot, but your air conditioning does not need to be on every second you’re at home. Try setting the timer on your air conditioner to turn it off after an hour and turn it back on once the temperature rises to unbearable levels again. If you need the air conditioner to fall asleep, set the timer to shut off 2-3 hours after you go to bed. The night air should cool down enough after you’re asleep to keep you comfortable for the rest of the night.
  4. Clean your air conditioner filter 1-2 times a month.
    Cleaning your filter will mean less energy being used to keep your home cool.

Refrigerator

  1. Set your refrigerator to a slightly higher temperature.
    Your food will still stay fresh, but you’ll be saving a little bit of energy.
  2. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
    We’ve all done the trick where we open the fridge, grab the pitcher of tea, grab a cup, pour the tea then put the tea back in the fridge and the door stayed open the whole time. Keep the door closed except to take food out of and put food in the refrigerator.
  3. Don’t overstuff the refrigerator.
    If you can’t fit anymore food in the refrigerator, eat what you already have in there before you go shopping for more perishable goods. Now may also be a good time to clean out the fridge.

General electronics

  1. Turn off and unplug all electronics when not in use (Estimated energy savings 5%)
    It takes a few extra seconds, but unplugging items such as your modem, television, computer and various chargers, when they’re not in use can save a lot of energy. I’ve started doing this in the morning before I leave for work or go on overnight trips. Invest in a couple surge protectors to cut down on searching all your outlets.
  2. Turn off the light when you leave a room
    It’s such common sense, but not everyone does it. Double check to make sure that light bulb’s not still on.

Another tip not mentioned on the HEPC website is get out of the house. Go to the library, the grocery store, the mountains or the beach to cool off. Also, stay in the shade, wear loose and light-colored clothing, and drink plenty of fluids. Good luck with your energy conservation, everyone!

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