Amid stagnant growth in household energy consumption caused by the prolonged recession, the electricity and gas industries are locked in fierce competition for sale of safe, cheap energy to homes.
The power industry is selling what it calls a “totally electrified housing concept” in which electricity is used for lighting, air conditioning, cooking, heating water and floor heating.
The industry says that unlike gas and kerosene, electricity is safe and clean because it does not use a flame. It is also economical, thanks to discounted rates on nighttime power use.
Earlier this year, Tokyo Electric Power Co. inaugurated a so-called next-generation all-electrified-condominium study group with eight major real estate companies to promote sales of electricity-only housing.
Tepco, the nation’s largest power supplier, lags far behind other power companies in terms of the ratio of all-electric housing to newly built residential buildings.
The ratio is expected to stand around 5 percent at the end of the current fiscal year, compared with about 19 percent for both Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. and about 16 percent for Chubu Electric Power Co.
Akira Takahashi of Tepco’s marketing and customer relations department attributed the slower growth in all-electric residences in the Tokyo area to Tepco calling on customers to conserve electricity in the years leading up to the asset-inflated bubble economy due to fears of supply shortages.
He said last year’s suspension of Tepco’s nuclear plant operations due to the utility’s coverup of reactor faults also adversely affected its marketing efforts.
“This year we are determined to go on the offensive and strive to raise the ratio to 15 percent in three years,” he said.
Takahashi is confident that Tepco can achieve the target. A variety of energy-saving electric appliances have been put into practical use, including induction heating cooking heaters with strong thermal energy equivalent to gas stoves, and water heaters that cool or heat water by efficiently gathering and moving heat extracted from the air, he said.
Amid the rapid aging of Japan’s population, Tepco is also riding on the strength of a trend favoring electrical appliances that are less likely to cause fires than gas units.
Not to be outdone, the gas industry has been promoting sales of home-use gas cogeneration systems to produce electricity and heat for powering electric appliances and heaters.
Industry watchers say a cogeneration system, mainly used during morning and evening hours when hot water is in high demand, helps households save energy costs.
Last spring, natural gas companies Osaka Gas Co., Toho Gas Co. and Saibu Gas Co. began