Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Does it make economic sense to ditch your gas stove and go for electric stove?

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around the electric stoves since the availability of subsidized LPG has become questionable. Let us see if it makes economic sense to go for electric stoves at this present juncture given that electricity tariff has risen steadily over the past few years. 

1 kg of LPG has an energy value of 13.6 Kwh (Kilowatt hour). One Kwh is called one unit.
Hence, 14.2 kg of LPG (that is the amount of LPG in one cylinder) can give  193.12 Units.

1 Cylinder of LPG (subsidized) = Nu. 600 (approximate cost at this time.) If non-subsidized, it may cost around Nu. 900 or 1000 if we go by this Kuensel article which says the difference in cost between subsidized and non-subsidized is about Nu. 278 ( http://www.kuenselonline.com/govt-to-introduce-non-subsidised-lpg/ ).

Now, suppose, you use electricity instead of gas to get the same amount of energy as one cylinder of gas, how much would it cost? 
If you are one of those whose monthly bill is below Nu. 150 now, given that one cylinder of gas equals 193.12 units of electricity, the cost would be  Nu. 517.56 (Using rate for lower slab users @Nu. 2.68 per unit). 

For others, 193.12 units of electricity would cost Nu. 681.71 (Rate for higher slab users @Nu. 3.53per unit) . This is the tariff slab into which most of the people would fall under. 

See table 1 below for the power tariff. 


1. As long as subsidized LPG is available, it does not make economic sense to go for electric stove.

2. The electric stoves are said to be around 74% efficient while gas stoves are only about 55% efficient. Efficiency is the percentage of actual energy that goes into final use after wastage through air, heating of the stove itself etc. This roughly 20% difference in efficiency would translate to a saving of about Nu. 120 per one cylinder-equivalent of energy. That means, it is a saving of about Nu. 120 per month, if you usually use one gas cylinder a month. If one cylinder lasts you two months, it is saving of about Nu. 60 per month. 

If you use induction stove (one on which only pots made of magnetic metals can be used), the efficiency is said to be around 85%. So, the savings in that case would be about Nu. 180 per cylinder-equivalent of energy usage. 

(Reference: https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/which-type-stovetop-most-energy-efficient/ )

3. If the subsidized gas is stopped and the electricity tariff does not increase much, the electric stove would make some sense. However, even in this case, the advantage is not too huge given that you will have to invest around Nu. 10,000 to get a double oven. If you usually finish about one gas cylinder a month, the saving would be about Nu. 400 per month even when compared to non-subsidized LPG. Saving Nu. 400 each month, you will need 25 months to recoup your investment. By that time, your stove's useful lifespan may be over because most heating elements do not last too long under constant use.

However, if your savings per month comes to around Nu. 1000 a month with investment of Nu. 10,000 for the oven, it may make economic sense provided the useful life of the stove exceeds at least one year even under heavy duty.

4. Power tariff was last increased on 1st July 2018. I think that there are talks of another increase coming soon. In that case, there may not be much advantage to go for electric stove even if we have to buy non-subsidized gas unless your goal is to reduce the import of LPG by using our own electricity. 

Table 1: Revised Electricity Tariff (Source: BPC Website)
Tariff Structure
From 1st July 2018 
LV Block-I (Rural) 0 – 100 kWh
LV Block-I(Others) 0 – 100 kWh
LV Block-II (All) >100 – 300 kWh
LV Block-III (All) >300 kWh

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Origin of the Mantra of Dependent Origination

I got introduced to the Mantra of Interdependent Origination in early 2014 while attending a teaching given by His Eminence Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, who I hold in very high esteem not only as a Buddhist teacher and a true practitioner, but also as a human being who is focused on using his great intellect and intelligence to benefit all sentient beings. As part of his Losar (Tibetan and Bhutanese new year) message to his followers, Rinpoche urged us to chant this mantra starting from the first day of the new year.

Rinpoche’s message on the website of Khyentse Foundation reads, “From the first day of the new Tibetan year, the year of the horse – 2 March 2014 – whenever you have a spare moment, day or night, please chant the mantra of interdependent origination:

om ye dharma hetu prabhawa
hetun teshan tathagato hyavadat
teshan tsa yo nirodha
ewam vade mahashramanah soha.

Then dedicate the merit, primarily towards the flourishing of the Buddhadharma throughout the world, but also whatever you wish for personally…. The aim is that together we accomplish one hundred million recitations”.

Rinpoche told those of us in Bhutan that this mantra is recognized by all Buddhists in the world whether they are from Thailand, Burma, China, Sri Lanka, Tibet or Bhutan unlike some mantra that is chanted only by Tibetan Buddhists.

Fig. 1. Picture of author (right) with the plaque displaying the Mantra of Dependent Origination at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, India, in January 2019.

I felt profoundly blessed to chant and contribute my counts towards reaching the collective 100 million recitations in one year. As far as I remember from the final message we received, the final total count went far beyond the target figure.

Later, my belief and faith in the mantra grew even greater after reading the following story of its origin.

The story goes that when Shariputra (sha ri'i bu in Tibetan), one of the chief disciples of the Buddha often seen standing on Buddha’s side in the frescoes and Thangkas, was wandering as a seeker of truth before meeting the Buddha, he came across Assaji (one of the first five disciples of the Buddha to whom Buddha gave his First Sermon on the Four Noble Truths in Sarnath after his enlightenment) who was on alms round. Shariputra was very impressed by Assaji’s calm demeanour and radiance and followed him.
After Assaji sat down, Shariputra asked him, “Serene are your features, friend. Pure and bright is your complexion. Under whom have you gone forth as an ascetic? Who is your teacher and whose doctrine do you profess?” [2]
Assaji replied, “There is, O friend, the Great Recluse, the scion of the Sakyas, who has gone forth from the Sakya clan. Under that Blessed One I have gone forth. That Blessed One is my teacher and it is his Dhamma that I profess.” [2]
Shariputra asked Assaji to share some teachings with him. Assajit told him that he was still newly ordained and did not know much. The stanza that Assaji then, reluctantly, spoke moved Shariputta deeply. The words that Assaji spoke are as follows and they are today what we call the mantra of dependent origination.
Assaji said:

“(om) ye dharma hetu prabhawa | hetun teshan tathagato hyavadat | teshan tsa yo nirodha | ewam vade mahashramanah (soha)”
Which can be translated as:
All things arise from causes;
Those causes are taught by the Tathagata.
And the cessation of those causes
Is also taught by the Great Virtuos One.

This famous mantra is actually a summary of the teachings of the Buddha. For many centuries now, “this mantra has been used to stabilize the power of blessings in one’s mantra recitation, as well as to purify dharma practice, especially any misunderstandings of the view” [3].
Upon hearing these words, Shariputra immediately understood the meaning of the teaching and attained the first stage of the path, entering the stream.
Shariputra then told this to his childhood friend Maudgalyayana (Mongyelputra; or Mongyel gi bu in Tibetan) who also immediately understood the teaching and attained the first stage.  The two later went to ordain as monks under the Buddha in Veṇuvana [4] and both became two of Buddha's chief disciples.
Fig. 2. Buddha Shakyamuni with his two disciples, Shariputra and Mongyelputra.

In his message dated 28 February, 2014 published on the website of Khyentse Foundation, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche explains the significance of this mantra as follows [5]:

Buddha’s teaching on dependent arising distinguishes him from all others as the supreme expounder of the truth. Once dependent arising has been pointed out to us, it’s a truth so blatantly obvious that we wonder how we missed it. Yet in our daily lives, our craving for independence is so strong that we forget how entirely dependent we really are. We may notice that we depend on food, for example, on shelter and even friendship, but we forget, or perhaps fail to notice, the fine and intricate web of subtle phenomena upon which we are equally reliant. And because we ignore this reality, we find ourselves falling over and over again into a realm of disappointment, where we become numb because we are too hopeful and then sink into the agony of hopelessness.
But the truth is that our conditioning rules us. We both create conditions and depend on conditions, some of which are good, and others we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Those of us alive today are extremely fortunate because the name of Shakyamuni Buddha still exists and still has meaning. Shakyamuni Buddha is therefore an important condition, a “dependent arising,” that can help us shape our lives.

It is said that Shariputra continued holding Assaji in highest esteem throughout his life. From the day of their first meeting, Shariputra would extend his clasped hands in reverence and turn his head to the direction where Assaji was staying, when he lay down to sleep [2].

A link to an audio explanation of the mantra given by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJE_lnSRmjM&t=175s

By Tshering Cigay Dorji (tcdinjapan@gmail.com)

Written on 4th August 2019, coinciding with the anniversary of the First Sermon of Lord Buddha. May it benefit all who come across this article.
Zilukha, Thimphu, Bhutan.

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