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Thursday, March 17, 2011

What you can do in your own home

Special to The Japan Times

Making small adjustments to your daily routine can help save energy, and right now every little bit matters. Keep in mind that 6 p.m.-7 p.m. is the peak time for energy consumption, so limiting the use of electricity and gas at this time is recommended.

The first place to look for ways to curb energy consumption is in the kitchen. Refrigerators, says "Just Enough" author Azby Brown, are the largest consumers of energy in the home. Microwave ovens and rice cookers also require a lot of electricity and should not be used during the peak time.

Here are some tips.

• Lower the temperature settings on the refrigerator. Freeze drinks in plastic bottles and then place them in the refrigerator to keep the temperature cooler. This will also keep food cool in the case of longer blackouts. Refrain from opening the refrigerator door unnecessarily. Stock up on preserved foods such as pickled vegetables that require little or no refrigeration.

• Avoid cooking at home during peak hours. Try to have cold dishes on hand, or buy prepared foods on the way home. Eating out at restaurants in your neighborhood can also help support local businesses.

• Cut back on heat. Dress warm at home to limit the use of air conditioning units. Draw curtains to retain heat.

• Use fewer lights. Replace filament light bulbs with more efficient florescent lights and turn off lights when not in use.

• Switch off the television. Large, flat-screen TVs consume a lot of power. Consider using the computer or radio instead.

• Unplug appliances when not in use. Appliances such as televisions and rice cookers have internal clocks that consume standby energy.

• Limit the use of gasoline. Opt for public transport instead of driving whenever possible. Although train services have been reduced as part of the power-saving effort, riding the train will become more convenient in the days to come.

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