Here’s an interesting question, appropriate for a so-oppressive-that-I-don’t-want-to-go-outside kind of day here in New York City.

How are the citizens of Japan, a country that’s still recovering after March's bad news trifecta of 9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, dealing with the somewhat tricky issue of air conditioning this summer? With climbing plants, sweat-wicking shirts, and old-fashioned electric fans, apparently.

As reported by BusinessWeek, the use of air conditioning during Japan’s sticky months is normally no biggie, but this summer is somewhat different with many citizens going into minimal-AC-use mode — under government urging — as not to overwhelm the country's strained power grid, particularly in eastern Japan. According to Bloomberg calculations, only 14 of Japan’s 54 nuclear power reactors will be operating in August, a month in which temps can climb as high as 104 degrees F.

So with regularly AC-happy Japanese citizens in serious energy conservation mode, numerous cooling low- and high-tech alternatives have emerged (or at least become more popular) including “green curtain kits” that allow users to grow sun-blocking goya vines on trellises installed on the exterior of a building; innovate sweat-wicking clothing from brands like Uniqlo; and electric fans. Aeon, Japan’s second largest retailer, expects sales of fans to rise 50 percent and sales of high-tech, heat-blocking lace curtains to jump 20 percent. The store is also offering in-store credit to customers who bring in power bills that prove that they’ve reduced their household electricity consumption by at least 15 percent during the month of July.

Hitachi, the country’s second largest private employer, is covering its factories with plants and giving seeds to employees so they can follow suit.

Head on over to BusinessWeek to read more about how Japan is coping with a potential steamy summer sans air conditioning. And although North America isn’t dealing with similar energy restrictions based on the limited use of nuclear power, click here to read more about MNN’s No-AC Challenge. Do you plan on beating the heat without the aid of air conditioning this summer?

Via [BusinessWeek]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Japanese homeowners to add climbing plants in place of window units this summer
As Japan faces energy restrictions after a particularly trying month of March, normally AC-happy citizens are faced with a daunting prospect: Getting through th