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Electricity in Tokyo got more expensive starting this month. TEPCO requested, and the government approved, an increase in rates of 8.46% for residential consumers effective September 1. “We deeply apologize to our customers for the heavy burden,” they wrote in their communique.

Rates are charged in blocks – the first 120kWh is now 18.89 yen/kW; 121-300kWh is 25.19; and if you use more than 300kWh, those cost you 29.1 yen/kW. Our usage in August was 493 kWh.

So I decided to look into ways to decrease our electric bill, which is already pretty high. TEPCO sent around a complicated chart of the new charges that seemed to show there were special programs for nighttime and off-peak electric use. I didn’t understand the nuance in Japanese, so I checked out their English explanation. Didn’t understand it there, either. Forget that. Maybe I can find ways to reduce our consumption by conservation.
Let’s survey our appliances. 
  • Refrigerator: Sanyo SR 40-CR, circa 1999. According to eco reporting website, Ecost Plus, it uses 550kWh of electricity and discharges 183kg of CO2 annually. That’s about 13,850 yen/year post rate hike. Looking at the other fridges in the same category, ours is one of the more expensive to operate. Replacing the fridge with one that uses only 2/3 the power will cost 80,000 – 100,000 yen.
  • Washer/dryer: Sanyo AWD AQ350, circa 2009. This is owned by our building, so we can’t change it, but it costs us 78Wh to wash a load, and 2600Wh to wash and dry. If I wash and dry 140 loads a year, that’s about 9,200 yen. If I air dry all of those loads, I can reduce the annual cost to under 300 yen. Drying is expensive.
  • Computers: Here’s another big opportunity for us. We have six computers (four laptops, a server and a NAS) plus two monitors, and a printer. Two of the computers are quite old and I can’t find their specs. There is definitely a way to economise here, but it requires Tod’s follow through. My laptop with its 85W power adaptor costs about 9,000 yen/year to power full bore 12 hours a day.
  • Toaster oven: Sanyo SK-WQ3, circa 2008. 1300W for 6 minutes is about 1065 yen to have toast every single day of the year.
  • Coffee maker: Zoujirushi EC-JS80, circa 2011. 650W for 10 minutes brew time is about 8 yen per pot, or 2800 yen annually.
  • Oven: Tokyo Gas RN-6608, circa 1985. No data available. Fan forced gas oven.
  • Heater: Tokyo Gas RN-B230-FH-X, circa 2004. No data available. Fan forced portable gas heater.
  • Fans: we have two to cool our house. 47W * 24 h/day * 90 days (all summer long) * 2 fans = 5100 yen/year. This adds up, but it’s a lot less expensive than aircon.
  • Stereo: McCormack Power Drive DNA-05 circa 1998 + SlimDevices Transporter, circa 2007. Most of the power used is in the amplifier at 100W, plus 10 for the Transporter. These are on all the time, though not always actively playing. Since I am feeling lazy about doing the math, let’s just say we do listen to music 24/7/365. Then it works out to 22,000 yen/year.
  • Vacuum: Dyson DC-12, circa 2004. 1200W. I hoover about fifteen minutes a week, so it costs under 400 yen to clean the floors every year. I guess I can’t slack off for the sake of saving money.
That covers most of our major and frequent use appliances. If we live in Japan another five years, it’s not cost effective to buy new appliances even though we will have savings in electricity. Decommissioning a computer or two will help. Turning off the stereo and other appliances when they are not in use will also save money. Using electricity off-peak (i.e.machine drying clothes at night) makes no difference unless I can figure out those complicated service plans.