Saving domestic electricity in September


Have you bought a battery-powered rechargable fan? graph of japanese reported on the second regular survey into saving electricity by goo Research. The first survey may be found here. Note that the dates of the survey indicate that it was conducted after TEPCO removed their restrictions on electricity usage in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, and after Tokyo had survived the summer without any blackouts or even brownouts.


Between the 12th and 14th of September 2011 1,087 members of the goo Research completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 52.9% of the sample were male, 15.9% in their teens, 18.5% in their twenties, 21.5% in their thirties, 16.2% in their forties, 15.7% in their fifties, and 12.1% aged sixty or older.

There seems a popular misconception amongst some foreigners in Japan that the only effects of the electricity-saving activities was cutting down domestic wastage and making people go home on time, thus proving that the electricity provided by nuclear power stations is not really necessary. However, this ignores the under-reported (or just plain ignored as inconvenient) problems that small businesses had, many forced to drastically cut back production to avoid fines of 1,000,000 yen per hour each time they failed to use 15% less than the previous year during peak times – unfortunately, I cannot find a story online about it. In July the current Prime Minister (he was Finance Minister then) highlighted that power costs (due to increase 10% for Tokyo this coming year) may drive firms abroad; indeed this has already started.

In addition, tonight I saw a short item on a news program about electricity pricing and other issues. First, electricity prices are set by law to cover assets, salaries, fuel and promotional activities, then 3% profit on the top. Thus, the generating boards are under no pressure to cut staffing costs (the average director, usually ex-finance ministry, gets just under 40 million yen a year) and can actively buy assets to increase their profits, while passing on all the costs to the user. Next, there is a small degree of competition from independent companies, but they are only allowed to target large users, and access to the electricity grid for them costs about 7 times that in the US. They showed that even with these restrictions, by converting a large-scale housing complex to the independent supplier, who offers smart meters to each householder, the price to the consumer was about 5% less per unit, and by using data from the smart meter and matching usage to tariffs, they could save a further five percent, despite all the handicaps described above.

Research results

Q1: Have you bought a battery-powered rechargable fan? (Sample size=1,087)

Bought one2.6%
Plan to buy one next year1.8%
Thinking about buying one next year7.0%
Don’t plan to buy one88.6%

Since the previous survey the number of people thinking about buying a fan has considerably decreased.

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