With fall (and soon to follow, winter) in full force across Japan, it might be time to think about how you will stay warm and toasty indoors this year. There are some options for staying at a comfortable temperature in Japan that don’t rely on using the convenient but inefficient air conditioner. Check out our article on 8 Ways to Heat Your Home in Japan for more of a breakdown between the different heating appliances. Today’s article will be focused on showcasing what you can find in an electronics retailer this year.
Great for keeping your feet warm in the colder months. Rather than using your AC unit to inefficiently heat the entire room just so your feet stay warm, this heating solution is a direct approach to keeping toes nice and toasty. You’ll find a variety of carpet textures, patterns, and sizes. A 1.5 tatami mat (roughly 2.8 square meters or 30 square feet) carpet will typically run for around ¥7,000 ($67 USD), with larger 3 tatami mat (5.6 square meters, 60 square feet) carpet setting you back around ¥15,000 ($142 USD).
Kotatsu are the heated tables with blankets along the sides to retain heat. It’s a very cozy way to stay warm, but since kotatsu are generally low tables for sitting on the floor, it can be uncomfortable for some. Luckily, the desk kotatsu solves this problem by raising the legs of the table – your ticket to a warm home office (just remember to finish your work before you doze off)!
Entry level kotatsu tables can be found for around ¥7,000 ($67 USD), which should be big enough for those living in studio apartments. If you’re looking for something a bit more heavy-duty for your family, you can be looking at anywhere from ¥15,000 ($142 USD) to ¥25,000 ($237 USD) depending on size and material. This is just the price for the table though, the special blanket (こたつ布団) is similarly priced – around ¥7,000 for entry level/smaller kotatsu, and upwards of ¥15,000 to ¥25,000 (or more) for larger kotatsu.
Carbon heaters tend to operate at a lower temperature than halogen heaters. Both are great if you want to heat up a specific section of a room without turning on the AC to heat the entire room/apartment. Most of the larger models shown above have multiple heating modes so you can choose between low power and high power. These heaters will run from around ¥10,000 ($95 USD) to ¥20,000 ($190 USD), but there are smaller models to choose from as well if you are just trying to keep your legs warm in front of the tv for example.
The electric fireplace is not a Japanese invention, but it really makes sense for those living in an apartment in an urban metropolitan area. You get the benefits of the flickering, soothing simulated-fire light, and comfortable heating. All without the actually hassle of cleaning and maintaining a fireplace! The models shown above run from around ¥14,000 ($132 USD) (left) to ¥76,000 ($721 USD) (right)!
Another option for heating a room is an oil-free heater (oil-free radiator). Slightly more energy efficient, lighter, and safer compared to their oil-filled brethren. The newest models also have the capability of being remotely controlled via a smartphone app – meaning you can start the heater before you get home to ensure that you walk into a perfectly heated room! Standard units start from around ¥24,000 ($227 USD).
In my years in Japan working at an office, every fall and winter I’d see coworkers bring blankets to work to keep their legs warm. If you’ve been experiencing cold legs at work, a small space heater like this might be the light at the end of the tunnel for you. This portable unit with a handle runs for about ¥10,000 ($95 USD).
Winter is also a very dry time of the year, and if you’re using the AC or other heating appliances you will quickly remove a lot of the humidity in the air. You can run multiple appliances to find the balance of heat, humidity, and air purification, or just get an all-in-one solution like the appliance above. With all these useful functions in one appliance, it’s no surprise that it’s a little bit on the expensive end around ¥30,000 ($284 USD).
A standard 1R studio apartment might be able to be comfortably heated by an air conditioning unit, but it also might not be the most efficient way to heat your apartment. See this article for tips on using your Japanese A/C remote control.
Do your best to familiarize yourself with alternative ways to heat your apartment now, so that you will be prepared for the winter that’s just around the corner!
The cold isn’t the only thing you’ll be battling in fall and winter. On top of the natural dryness of the seasons, running any heating appliance or the AC unit will further dry out your room. With a humidifier ensuring that your room is at a comfortable humidity, you’ll have no problems this winter!
Note: All USD prices in this article are estimates using November 2020 exchange rate of 1 USD = 105 JPY.
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How to use a Japanese A/C remote control – With translation of buttons