The insulation aisles at the home improvement stores are getting a steady stream of traffic, but the answer to high heating bills may actually be hanging in the lingerie department.
One of Japan's largest lingerie companies, Triumph International, has unveiled an unusual way to save on winter heating bills: a heated bra.
The white faux fur-covered unmentionable has two eco-friendly gel-filled pads that can be heated in the microwave. It's currently in the prototype phase, but when it rolls out en masse, it will include matching shorts (a.k.a. hot pants).
Japan's government has been very vocal -- and visual -- about encouraging its citizens to conserve energy, and this is not the first time fashion has taken up the noble cause there.
Over the summer, the country's prime minister showed up sans tie (a shocker in the traditional office culture) to encourage reduced air conditioning use. His ensemble to promote "Cool Biz" made quite an impact on workers. According to BBC News, the public service power drive saved enough energy to supply more than 200,000 homes for a month.
So far, no high-profile government official has donned the bra to promote "Warm Biz." Then again, it's not exactly easy to accessorize.
The bra is a bit bulky to wear under T-shirts, suits, or, well, any clothes, if you hope to retain any sort of a streamlined look. (You'll have to do your own Google image search.) But that's a small price to pay given the company's lofty intentions. "We hope this will not only help prevent global warming but also provide a little fashion chic to the office," the company said in a statement. (You'll also have to do your own Google "Help wanted in Japan" search.)
Maybe a burning bra isn't your idea of a viable energy saving plan. There are other ways to combat the chills winter heating bills will bring, including 12 ways to raise the heat without raising the heating bill in your house. (Caulk, cooking, ceiling fans, and heating system checkups are the four Cs of staying warm cheap.)
Driving a more fuel-efficient car will help you save money at the pump, as well as do a tiny bit to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Edmunds.com provides a list of the top miles-per-gallon rides based on Environmental Protection Agency data. For example, the Honda (NYSE: HMC ) Insight gets 61/66 miles per gallon for city and highway driving, respectively. DaimlerChrysler's (NYSE: DCX ) Dodge Neon, on the other hand, chugs along at 29/36.
You can even consider going solar. If you don't have room on your roof for a panel, perhaps there's room in your portfolio for companies that specialize in sun (power) worship. According to Fool analyst Tim Beyers, renewable energy could be just the thing to brighten your portfolio.
More than half of the market for solar cells is supplied by four companies -- BP Solar, a division of BP plc (NYSE: BP ) ; Shell Solar, a division of Royal Dutch Petroleum (NYSE: RD ) ; Kyocera (NYSE: KYO ) ; and Sharp (which is traded on some overseas exchanges).
That last company is the world's largest supplier of solar panels. And guess what country is its biggest customer?
Let's just say you shouldn't be surprised if solar-powered sweatsuits turn out to be all the rage in Tokyo offices this spring.
Like the garment discussed in this story, The Motley Fool'sdisclosure policyis warm and fuzzy.Dayana Yochimowns none of the companies mentioned in this article. Her holdings are exposed inher personal profile.