On July 1, the government started imposing a 15 percent power consumption cut on large-lot users serviced by Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. Small-lot users, including households, are also called on to reduce power consumption by 15 percent. Other power companies are also calling on companies and people to save power. The accidents at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have made the electricity saving efforts necessary.

In summer, electricity demand peaks at around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. because people use air conditioners in full during that time. The most important thing is to avoid power demand surpassing the power supply. This will cause a large-scale blackout, paralyzing society and even causing death to some people, especially the sick who are dependent on electricity-driven apparatuses. Companies and people should heed predictions by the government and power companies of the power supply and demand.

Manufacturers and other companies have taken such measures as operating on Saturdays and Sundays, stopping operations during the weekdays and changing the day’s operation hours.

Citizens at home can also contribute to the power saving efforts. In the daytime in summer, the average household uses 1,200 W of electricity, half of it due to the use of air conditioners. To reduce power consumption by 15 percent, one has to save 180 W. If an electric fan is used in place of an air conditioner, 600 W will be saved. If an air conditioner’s temperature setting is set at 28 C, this can save 130 W. One can save 25 W by changing the temperature setting of a refrigerator from high to middle and by reducing the amount of food stored inside it. One should also eliminate standby power consumption by unplugging appliances, such as TVs.

But one must be careful not to suffer from heat stroke or dehydration through excessive efforts to save electricity. Last year, more than 1,700 people died of heat stroke. Last month, ambulances transported 406 Tokyoites who suffered from heat stroke to hospitals — more than three times the corresponding figure of 133 in June 2010. Elderly people should not hesitate to use air conditioners when the inside temperature gets too hot.

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