Speed up bathing and save energy

TOKYO Tue Jun 3, 2008 11:00am EDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - Speedier family baths could help Japanese cut their burgeoning energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a government report said on Tuesday.

Japanese households consume less energy than their U.S. and European counterparts, but consumption has been sharply increasing --jumping 44 percent between 1990 and 2005 -- a big reason the environment white paper zeroed in on ways for people to save energy.

Families should not only shorten their daily showers by a minute -- a common recommendation in the West -- but should try to take baths in quick succession, the report said.

Japanese usually wash outside the tub and then soak in hot water, which is then reused by the next family member. That means the water must be reheated each time if the next person in line dawdles.

Hot water use in bathrooms and kitchens accounted for 39 percent of energy consumed in Japanese homes, a stark contrast to European households, where energy is mainly used for air-conditioning and heating, the report said.

Japan is one of the world's most energy-efficient countries, but greenhouse gas emissions from companies and households have been on the rise in recent years, prompting the government to raise public awareness for global warming.

Climate change will be a major agenda on at the G8 summit Japan will be hosting in early July.

(Reporting by Mari Saito; Editing by Bill Tarrant)