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As Japan's summer heat fires electricity shortage concerns, how can people save power?

People carrying parasols walk in front of JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo amid hot summer weather on June 28, 2022. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

TOKYO -- Japan's soaring summer temperatures have sparked energy shortage worries as people switch on power-hungry air conditioners. And so there have been calls for people to raise the temperature settings on their air conditioners to save power, but what else can they do?

    An additional concrete measure suggested by the government is to lower the brightness of home lighting. Dimming the lights at around 7 p.m., when household electricity demand increases, leads to energy savings of about 2.5%, officials say. Additional measures include turning off lights in unoccupied spaces (saving 1.5%), turning down the refrigerator cooling setting from strong to medium (1.2%), and using the TV energy-saving setting and turning the TV off when not watching it (2%).

    At the same time, the government is promoting appropriate use of air conditioning to prevent heatstroke, and so it is important to be aware of the time and the demand for energy to conserve power efficiently.

    The government is focusing its power saving call on the period from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when a power crunch is more likely. In the summer, the highest demand is during the afternoon, from 1 to 5 p.m., but if the weather is clear, a sufficient amount of solar power can be produced, and there is enough electricity to maintain a regular supply. From the evening onward, however, the amount of solar power declines significantly. Power companies can make up for the shortfall through other means, but there are more cases of people using electricity for house chores such as preparing evening meals, and the supply tends to get tight.

    According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, in eight surveyed regions across Japan excluding the northernmost and southernmost prefectures of Hokkaido and Okinawa, air conditioners account for the greatest proportion of summer electricity use at around 7 p.m., at 38.3%. This is followed by lighting at 14.9%, refrigerators at 12.0%, TVs and DVDs at 8.2%, and cooking at 7.8%.

    (Japanese original by Taiki Asakawa, Business News Department)

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