Green Gadgets

Environment Trends & Culture - February 19th, 2010

by Danielle Rippingale

I was skeptical when they first started appearing on the market, but research shows that energy meters actually do influence behavior and increase conservation measures.

The first step in cutting your energy consumption, your electricity bills, and your carbon footprint is to find out how much electricity you’re using. Energy monitors, or smart meters, will show you how much you’re using, the patterns of your usage, and the effect of turning things on and off. This process of monitoring usage can be as much fun for you as for the kids in your home.

Here are some ways you can alter your pattern of energy consumption and cut your carbon footprint:

• Power meters like Eco-Watt measure energy use, carbon dioxide release, and cost per hour (¥2,940 at Tokyu Hands, The Eco-Checker Plus allows you to monitor your use by providing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly readings with an alarm function to alert you when your use is high (¥7,350).

• In recent years traditional incandescent light bulbs have been replaced by low energy alternatives that save 80 percent of energy use, and new versions are even dimmable. Night lights with LED bulbs are available at Tokyu Hands for ¥598.

• Hundreds of millions of disposable batteries are thrown away every year, polluting soil and filling landfills. Although initially more costly, the costs of rechargeable batteries are quickly recovered, saving unnecessary waste and the earth. Eneloop rechargeable batteries by Sanyo come in various sizes with the option of clever size adapters so you don’t need to buy the rechargeable battery in every size (starting at about ¥1,200, readily available at electronics and office supply stores). The ‘an ecol’ is a cute lidded battery recharger that holds four batteries and is available in pink or white (¥3,500 at Tokyu Hands).

• If you have light, you can create power with chargers that use solar energy to recharge your small personal electronic devices. The Eneloop portable solar panel provides 100 percent clean power and is available as a single (¥8,980) or double panel (¥13,800) at Yodabashi Camera. For more information about Eneloop visit news/2009/08/05-1.html.

• The multi-functional Solpha P230 IB shows Japanese ingenuity with its two small solar panels, interchangeable faces and the necessary cables to allow you to recharge your small electronic items. The accessories include a hand warmer, standing light, and a smaller flashlight (¥4,980 at Tokyu Hands).

• Banish cold hands with Muji’s functional and cute rechargeable hand warmers. In contrast to the readily used and disposable hand warmers, this stylish and practical accessory resembles a smooth river stone and can be recharged 500 times over its lifetime (¥3,900, available in white or dark brown).

• Most apartments in Tokyo require you to purchase your own appliances, so consider energy efficient ones, easily identified with the Energy Star logo. Ask when purchasing from sayonara sales or new.

• Water conservation is a huge priority in a world that is quickly exhausting this valuable resource. A 15 minute shower uses as much as 25 gallons of water, yet a simple shower timer can train you to save water by letting you know when five minutes is up. A readily available kitchen timer works perfectly.

• Cut phantom energy use from electronics on standby and save money with the OHM electric power bar, which has six sockets and six individual switches for individual cutting (¥1,280 at Tokyu Hands).


This award winning green gadget uses social pressure to

change consumption behavior by tweeting your energy use!


Shou ene navi is a new Japanese model house with an energy

conservation navigation (ECN) system that measures how much

carbon dioxide is produced by a household. The ECN is connected

to the breaker and readings are sent to a computer or cell phone