How I shaved off ¥9,000 a month from our electricity bill

By on June 17, 2013

Tokyo summer is here again with many households cranking up their air conditioners to

beat the heat.

Starting in September last year, TEPCO has been charging consumers in Japan 8.46%

more on the use of electricity caused by the nuclear reactor shutdowns in the country.  So

unlike previous summers, this year means record electricity consumption!

I had no idea how the rate increase was going to affect my familyʼs finances until our first

bill arrived.  We did the math.  Compared to our previous average annual use, I figure the

increase was going to cost us thousands of yen more if we continued with our old pattern

of consuming electricity.   After some arm twisting with my tweens and hubby, I was able to

get them to agree on new house rules, effective immediately!

Call it penny pinching but having been successful at slashing down 9,000 yen a month on

electricity bill means the family has 108,000 yen more a year to spend elsewhere more

important. Thatʼs a lot of money and it could be yours too if you choose to do so. Hereʼs

how we did it.

1.  Changing our circuit breaker amp from 60 to 40

We called TEPCOʼs customer center to have our breaker changed to a lower ampere free

of charge.  TEPCO calculates electricity consumption using a certain formula.    (http://

www.tepco.co.jp/en/customer/guide/ratecalc-e.html)     *The downside to having a lower

amperage means not being able to use two air conditioners and an electric oven at the

same time or the breaker goes off.   Be prepared to live with this.

2.  Switching off breaker in rooms not using power

Turning off all electric appliances not in use still consume electricity.  We now unplug all

electric appliances from the wall like tv, humidifier, video, air conditioner, games, washing

machine, desktops, oven and switch off the breaker as well when not in use.

3.  Turning off computer after use /switching from desktop to laptop

Hereʼs the hardest habit to break: turning off the computer and home server after use.

Depending on the amount of CPU load, habitually leaving the computer and server on eats

up power that could cost ¥2,000 a month. All of us at home are most at ease using

desktops. A desktop however consumes twice as much power as a laptop.  A laptop uses

20-50W whereas desktops consume anywhere between 100 and 250 watts.  With a lower

ampere, we decided it was best to shift to laptop.

4.  Replacing inefficient air conditioners.

We have three super sunny spacious rooms in our apartment with full curtains that takes a

while to cool. When everyone is at home in summer, all air conditioners are at work. Our

electric bill easily went up to as much as 70-80% of our total power consumption in the

peak of Tokyo summer.  To pre-empt high energy charges in the future, the best decision

we made was having invested in energy-efficient air conditioners built to save us more

money on power bills than the one we had.

5.  Keeping refrigerator door shut at all times

My tweens have an annoying habit of opening the fridge for a long time wondering what

snack to grab and eat.  No electric appliance uses more power than the refrigerator. The

compressor works harder when it takes in warm air to get the cooling temperature back to

its regulated state thus this bad habit translates to a higher energy bill.

While it takes a lot of compromise from everyone, it is always a nice feeling to not stress

about increasing utility bills.

About Gayle Ishikawa