Energy Conservation?

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    Spring is finally arriving! For those of us living in Japan, this means an end to horrible cold and the beginning of a short period of warmth before the horribly humid summer comes. The expensive heating bills from the winter will finally be paid so that the saving can begin for the expensive cooling bills for the summer.

    Back in February, the Washington Post featured an article titled “Japanese Putting All Their Energy into Saving Fuel”. The article discussed the various methods Japan was using to cut down on energy consumption. One of the biggest examples cited in the article was the reduced use of heaters in winter:

    To save on energy, local officials shut off the heating system in the town hall, leaving themselves and 100 workers no respite from near-freezing temperatures. On a recent frosty morning, rows of desks were brimming with employees bundled in coats and wool blankets while nursing thermoses of hot tea.

    What a fantastic scene! Here’s a little acknowledgment of the drawbacks from later in the article:

    But energy conservation can have its drawbacks. Back in the cold town hall in Kamiita, for instance, more and more workers are coming to the office wearing surgical masks and taking preventive medicines to ward off winter colds. But it is a fate they brought upon themselves — a vast majority of the town’s workers agreed in a survey that the heat should be switched off to save on energy.

    “I think we’re doing the right thing,” said Masaki Iuchi, the 34-year-old town dogcatcher. “But it’s not always comfortable.”

    According to the article, the Japanese are really serious about conservation. Great isn’t it? The Japanese are cutting down on fuel consumption while countries like America continue to burn massive amounts of fuel with gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles. The Japanese are making great sacrifices in the name of saving energy. But is freezing your ass off in winter really the solution to gas consumption problems?

    For decades the Japanese have been behind the rest of the developed world in home heating technology. Well, they aren’t actually behind technologically; the technology exists in Japan. But for some god awful retarded reason they choose not to use it. What technology am I talking about? Why, basic insulation of course!

    Most Japanese houses and apartment buildings are built with thin, un-insulated walls. This makes it extremely difficult and costly to heat or cool Japanese houses or apartments. Lack of insulation allows heat to easily escape from the building in winter, requiring a greater effort to keep rooms warm. It is a proven fact that insulation keeps rooms warmer in winter and cooler in summer, resulting in less energy use for heating and cooling. The benefits of insulation have caused it to be a requirement in almost every house and apartment built in 1st world nations. Sadly, some new houses/apartments built in Japan continue to lack basic forms of insulation.

    Lots of theories have been offered up to explain the lack of insulation in Japanese buildings. The most common explanation I hear is the greed/stupidity of Japanese construction companies. It seems that they find it cheaper and easier to build homes and apartment blocks without insulation. Some also don’t bother to use double-pained glass windows, which aid in the insulation of rooms. Instead, a lot of apartment buildings built in the last 30 years were hastily constructed out of concrete, with windows and doors shoddily attached. Within a decade the crappy construction methods start to show, and property values of older houses and apartments plummet. This has created a system of constantly tearing town old buildings and building new ones. Did anyone notice that the theme of last year’s Aichi World Expo was sustainable development?

    Instead of confronting the issue of energy conservation by demanding better home heating technology (which has been available in American/Australian/European houses for decades), the Japanese have decided to turn off their heaters and freeze their asses off in winter. Such conservation techniques don’t deserve respect; they should be laughed at for their stupidity.

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