Kate Mackenzie Increase your energy efficiency: Wear a short-sleeved safari suit

McKinsey might think that new standards and loan guarantees are the way get better energy efficiency.

Bah. What about just wearing more climate-appropriate clothes?

The EU’s energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs (not pictured right) is all over the idea on his blog:

Many experts consider that the most efficient way of saving heating or cooling is simply reduce or increase by 1º the temperature that of our thermostats. One degree variation could lead to up to 10% energy savings. And however, it is not so unusual to find people that sleep with a blanket in the middle of the summer because they keep the air conditioning too high. Equally, you see some people in the middle of the winter walking around their apartments with a simple t-shirt. Maybe the right choice of clothes together with a wiser use of the heating and cooling systems may have a positive impact on their comfort and also on their energy bills.

As Piebalgs notes, the idea is not without precedent. As Japan recoiled from the oil shock of 1973, one measure it took (along with mandating strict efficiency rules for businesses) was to introduce the ‘energy conservation look’. This consisted of a short-sleeved, tie-less safari suit and according to the book ‘MITI and the Japanese Miracle‘, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Ezaki Masumi, had himself photographed wearing one in 1979. He apparently “ordered MITI officials to shift them; the Ministry of Finance, however, turned down the “energy conservation look” as too undignified”.

And it didn’t stop there. Another campaign, ‘CoolBiz’, was introduced in 2005. Sadly, it lacked the safari suit and instead opted for starched collars (so they stand up!) and natural fibres. The result is somewhat less exciting than the short-sleeved safari suits:

Cool Biz was considered such a success that a ‘Warm Biz’ campaign was also anticipated - involving turtleneck sweaters and the like – but we’ve not found much confirmation of this, and according to Wikipedia (ahem) it was never officially endorsed.