Comments on: Breaker, breaker: How to conserve energy without thinking too much How to make, save and spend money in Japan. Wed, 18 Feb 2015 03:29:48 +0000 hourly 1 By: Philip Brasor & Masako Tsubuku Thu, 12 Jul 2012 22:05:19 +0000 Tepco isn’t “charging” for larger capacity breakers. They simply peg the “basic fee” (基本料金, “kihon ryokin” on the monthly bill) to the size of the main breaker. You pay that fee every month even if you use no electricity at all. As far as we know, as long as you buy your electricity from Tepco (as opposed to generating some of it yourself, as another reader does) you have to use this system, regardless of whether you own or rent, live in a house or an apartment.

60A may be too small for some North American houses, but it seems to be plenty for most Japanese houses. Businesses tend to use much more electricity, so we assume homeowners can also opt for larger breakers and can make arrangements with Tepco, but from what we were told on the phone 60A is the norm.

By: Alex Wed, 11 Jul 2012 21:43:27 +0000 Sorry to keep commenting on your entry but I have been pondering why TEPCO would charge you more for a bigger breaker. I assume you have a meter. How does your meter work? Does it store data and are you charged different rates at different times?

I wonder if they charge you more for the bigger breaker for other reasons. It is a little interesting to me and I think TEPCO would not do it without good reason.

Would the breaker charge exist if you had a house?

Also in your article you mention a max 60A breaker per home? Is this true? This seems far too low for a large house. I would expect it to be more like 80A to 300A for a new house.

I think I am showing my nerdy side.

By: Chris Fri, 06 Jul 2012 17:45:57 +0000 Hello:

Long time reader, first time responder. I am an electrical engineer and can shed some light on how the breaker system works. The 10-20-30-40-50-60 Amp breakers refer to the TOTAL electrical service provided by the utility. There are secondary breakers set at lower levels (20Amps in your picture) that control INDIVIDUAL circuits in the dwelling. These tend to be for individual rooms: bedrooms, bathrooms, or specific appliances: ovens, dryers. In Canada, where I am from, the standard service is 100 Amp, 200 is optional but requires re-wiring to the house.

As Alex pointed out, changing your service to limit your peak load isn’t beneficial. All it will do is stop you from running the two appliances at the same time. You can accomplish the same affect by running them on the same individual circuit rather than changing the full breaker.

As you mention, consumption awareness is a much better tool at reducing overall usage.

I am more surprized that there are so many choices in the breaker/service levels available to the user. Trying to save 500Yen/month by changing you breaker because there is a surplus of capacity illustrates more that the billing system is broken rather that there is something wrong with the breaker.

By: Alex Fri, 06 Jul 2012 10:56:08 +0000 Re excess energy it is not so simple a situation. Gas turbines can be turned on and off at a switch of a button. Coal power can be tuned every 15min. Nuclear is set. But excess energy can be converted to hydro power. Also factories can use night shifts for high power work. So turning off a light can cause a difference.

Also regarding overload there can be a little more to it as well. Faulty appliance or appliances with a high starting load can cause a suddon peak that will trip your breaker. Although you are correct in adding the wattages it is not always that simple. I have personally experienced this.

Anyway I understand your premise but I think it may be an over simplification.

Love reading your blog (and the other one regarding housing). Not trying to be negative!

By: Philip Brasor & Masako Tsubuku Thu, 05 Jul 2012 13:39:40 +0000 Thanks for the clarification. We understand that changing the breaker will not in and of itself reduce energy consumption. The point being made in the Asahi article was that changing a breaker made a household more aware of the electricity it was using, since it had to be more careful to avoid overloads. Once you understand how much energy each appliance uses you have a better idea of how to cut down. That said, we also understand that reducing energy consumption by individual households has no effect on the amount being produced. It can only have an effect on how much of that energy is consumed, so if households use less there is less danger of an overload.

By: Alex Thu, 05 Jul 2012 11:31:39 +0000 I love reading your blog but I think you have not quite grasped that circuit breakers do not have a great affect on energy saving. It only stops overload. Base load energy usage is what is important – of which a circuit breaker does not have much of an affect.

By: Jjwalsh Wed, 04 Jul 2012 09:30:55 +0000 We have a different kind of breaker since installing solar panels (installed with the panels) but no complaints since our pay back each month is over 2x what we pay :)
The electricity monitor which u recommend & also came with the solar system is a real eye opener on usage at home, so I reckon just getting that alone might help balance use. We were most surprised by lights, 1 click dimmer means big savings, also with A/C one degree warmer is a huge consumption change over an hour/day