Conserving Electricity: Lower your Electric Bill in Japan!

Oct 25, 2018

Conserving Electricity: Lower your Electric Bill in Japan!

You may not have known it, but you may come from a country with comparably cheap power.  Japan is a great place, and we got lots of “stuff” to be proud of here, but cheap power isn’t one of them. Leaving your AC or heater running to keep your cat comfortable while you are at work may have been perfectly reasonable at home, but here the bill at the end of the month might surprise you… unpleasantly.

To avoid any such unpleasantness we recommend you look through this list of common appliances and how much it costs to run them. A little bit of knowledge might save you a whole bunch of cash.

Electricity Usage of Selected Appliances

Key: Appliance (factors) unit price ~ annual cost.

* “Jo” is a measure of room size. More info on room sizes here. 

  1. Air-conditioning Unit    (*6~18 jo room) JPY  16,000 ~ 50,000/unit
  2. Washer and Dryer    (10kg, everyday use) JPY  9,500 ~ 23,000
  3. Dish Washer    (11 liters. twice a day) JPY  15,000
  4. Refrigerator    (168~601 liters.) JPY  8,400 ~ 10,000
  5. Light Fixture    (*12 jo room, 8hours/day) JPY  3,200/one light fixture
  6. TV    (24~50 inch) JPY  829 ~ 1,554
  7. Iron    (10 min./day) JPY  2,300
  8. Rice Cooker    (5.5 rice cups ) JPY  2,200
  9. Hair Dryer    (10 minutes/day) JPY  2,000/one person
  10. Microwave    JPY  1,600
  11. Vacuum Cleaner   (10 min./day) MAX: JPY  1,400

Save Money When Using Air-conditioning

  • Use a fan or a circulator at the same time as the AC unit. Make sure you turn the fan/circulator upward.
  • In Japan, the “proper temperature” to set an AC is 28℃ (82.4f) in summer and 20℃ (68f) in winter. (Seriously!)
  • Clean the filter every 2 weeks.
  • Use the automatic operation mode, so the AC only kicks in when needed.
  • Do not put or store things around the part of the AC that sits outside.
  • Do not turn the AC on and off for only a short time (ex.30 min.), because the most electric power is consumed when it starts.
  • Keep the vane (fan blades) pointed down while warming room, keep the vane flat while cooling one.
  • In summer, close the curtains or the blinds to shut the sunshine. In winter, open the curtains to get the sunshine.

Electricity Usage of Heating Appliances

It is not just hot in Japan, its cold.  In some cases VERY cold.  In most cases, you are still better off using your AC to heat in winter, but it will depend on your specific circumstances. Below is a list of scenarios and a suggested heating method.

Halogen Heater  (For *3 jo tatami room) (see examples) 

high:         JPY 27/hour
medium:   JPY  18.09/hour
low:          JPY  8.91/hour

Carbon Heater (see examples)

high:         JPY  24.3/hour
low:          JPY  12.15/hour

Oil Heater (For 8-10 tatami room) (see examples)

high:         JPY  32.4/hour
medium:   JPY  18.9/hour
low:          JPY  13.5/hour

Air-conditioning unit (For 8-10 tatami room) (see examples) 

JPY  2.8 ~ 53.5/hour

Hot Carpet (For 2 tatami room) (see examples) 

high:         JPY  8.5/hour
medium:   JPY  6.2/hour

Kotatsu (see examples) 

high:         JPY  4.6/hour
low:          JPY  2.2/hour

The Most Efficient Use of Different Heating Appliances

  • To warm the entirety of a large space -> Use an air-conditioning unit
  • To warm the entirety of a small to medium space  -> Use an oil heater
  • To warm a specific part of a space -> Use an oil heater
  • To use for  only a short period  -> Use a Halogen Heater / Carbon Heater
  • To warm only your feet or hands -> Use a kotatsu
  • To keep the cost as low as possible -> Use a kotatsu

Photo by: Used without permission 

Photo by: Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Mita editor

Mita san is a staff member in our Japan Home Search division.

2 comments so far

DavidPosted on12:49 am - May 19, 2023

Hi, I wasn’t able to understand your electric costs of selected appliances, because you didn’t specify what the time period was on many of them. Was the JPY # you provided per hour, per day, or per month? No matter. I really only have one specific question that I hope you can answer for me. How much does it cost in Japan to run a small portal electric fan per hour, the kind of fan a student would have in a small 1 room student apartment just big enough for a bed, a desk, and a small kitchen area? I’m talking generally, but this specific case is for the area around Kyushu University.

    AdminPosted on3:00 pm - May 19, 2023

    Well, the top list is annual, but the heaters are per hour. Off hand, I do not know how much a fan would cost. I would google the price of electricity in Japan and multiply by the number of watts the motor is. That will be listed on the back of the fan. Then you will have a very good idea, but I would say a small fan is just a couple bucks a month, probably.

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