FW-87 -- Staying Warm on the Cheap

* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, February 4, 2006 Issue No. 87

- Staying Warm on the Cheap
- Credits

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Venue: The FCC, Yurakucho Denki Bldg., 20F
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For complete details(Japanese only), please go to:

*** Staying Warm on The Cheap ***

Dear Frugal Readers,

Brr! I don't think the temperature rose above 5 degrees
centigrade here in Osaka today, and Tokyo friends tell me
the capital was also freezing cold. What happened to the
little hints of spring we've come to expect in February?
No game. As Punxsutawney Phil (the famous Groundhog)
discovered yesterday, we're in for six more weeks of winter.

So, how can you stay warm without going broke? First,
don't do what I do and keep the heater on all the time. Our
December heating bill was in the five digits (remember, we're
talking yen here) and is not something you really want to brag
about as a frugal writer. Here are a few hints for you, and
me, to enjoy a warmer winter.

First, the easiest (and cheapest) way to warm up is to wear
more clothing. The Japanese padded winter jacket, or hanten, is
great in this regard, as it keeps you quite warm. The next must
have for frugal winters is the kotatsu, or heating table. Paired
with a futon/blanket on the top and carpet on the bottom, you're pretty
warm. One more frugal tip is to put a layer of insulating material
(newspapers or cardboard works well) underneath your kotatsu carpet,
to prevent heat from escaping. As far as the temperature setting,
did you know that reducing it from "high" to "medium" can save
you 32.48 kw, or 1,130 yen, a year? Amazing! Be sure and turn off the
kotatsu when you're done using it.

The air conditioner/heating unit found in most Japanese homes is
another major source of winter expense. Be sure and keep the filter
clean, as that helps the machine run more efficiently. Also,
setting the AC temperature lower (from 21 to 20 degrees) can
save you major bucks - some 1,640 yen a year, based on nine hours
a day of use. Likewise, your gas or oil fan heater should
be set at around 20C. Reducing the temperature from 21C to 20C
on this baby can save you 2,070 yen in fuel expenses.

Speaking of heating appliances, were you aware that your
hot carpet actually uses about twice as much energy as your
kotatsu, and is much less efficient at heating a space? If you
must use a hot carpet, keep it set on "medium" or "low," and
use it only when people are in the room. Lowering the hot carpet
setting can save you 4,280 yen a year (based on five hours

This year in particular, kerosene costs are quite expensive,
making it hard for people who use oil stoves or oil fan heaters
to keep warm frugally. Try using a fan in a heated room to
circulate the warm air (which stays near the ceiling), or use
your oil-based heater together with a kotatsu and other methods.

Finally, find a comparison below of the various costs
per appliance per day and month (data from
http://kakeashi.boo.jp/danbouhi-part2.htm). Perhaps this will
make it easier for you to decide which equipment to use.

Seikyu (Oil) Stove:
250 yen/day, 7,500 yen/month (based on 1,250 yen for 18 liters
of kerosene); 216 yen/day, 6,480 yen/month (based on 1,080 yen
for self-service kerosene)

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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

Copyright 2006 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.