As you probably know, last year Japan had a lot of problems being able to supply enough power around the country and this year pretty much looks like the same thing will happen. So the government have been encouraging various ideas so keep Japan cool (like it isn't already the coolest place on earth!). They are asking companies to to make the dress code more casual and to reduce the use of the air-con - as far as I am concerned it is about time this issue was addressed. The company I used to work at would have the aircon set really low and then the female office workers would sit their in their knitted cardigans and a blanket over them to keep warm, insane!
So, another idea which really took off last year was to grow a green curtain, we didn't get round to it last year but we are having a go this time. The idea is to grow a vine based plant against a wall that gets a lot of sun, the foliage blocks out a lot of the direct sunlight and so reduces the amount of heat radiating into the room. According to Kyocera the reduction can be up to 15°.
I took this picture a couple of weeks ago, some of the vines have now reached the balcony, not bad for this completely non-green-fingered gal! We decided on goya, partly because it is supposed to be the easiest to grow and partly because no one actually likes it so we don't mind pulling the flowers off to help it grow higher.
If it turns out to be successful then next year we will try one on the front of the house too, this corner gets the brunt of the lunch - afternoon sun which makes the living room unbearable without the aircon on. If you need any help getting started with a green curtain, I recommend this site.
So, do you grow a green curtain? Which plant to you use? Please share in the comments section.