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NEWS | Sept. 28, 2010

Powering America: little changes, big savings

By Bruce Miller 628th Civil Engineer Squadron resource efficiency manager

As the largest consumer of energy in the federal government the Air Force will place special attention on energy conservation during October's Energy Awareness Month campaign. The Air Force theme this year is "A New Culture: Energy as an Operations Enabler."

This theme is intended to highlight the importance of energy to our overall mission to fly, fight and win, and supports our energy strategy to "Reduce Demand, Increase Supply and Change the Culture."

Heading into this month of energy awareness, the Air Force will collectively focus on the responsibility to reduce consumption and support the Department of Defense and Presidential directives for greater energy independence, which in turn supports national security.

Here at Joint Base Charleston, the base has decreased overall energy consumption by 28 percent from the 2003 baseline and improved energy security by making the base more efficient. The fact is, little changes have added up to big savings for Joint Base Charleston, and it is an impact that is recognized by joint base leadership.

JB CHS is host to a very active Energy Management Steering Group, which is led by JB CHS Commander Col. Martha Meeker. Key participants include group commanders plus representatives from all major units on base, where the focus is to share energy information and ideas.

Still, when reading articles about saving resources, it is easy to ignore the advice believing that one person cannot make a difference. What difference does it make when we shut off a light? How much energy is really saved?

A single 100-watt incandescent bulb uses 1 kilowatt hour of electricity for every 10 hours of operation, or roughly 365 kilowatt hours per year. Multiply that by the approximately 7,600 people working on base and then consider what would happen if each person turned off a single light. The base would actually save 2,774,000 kilowatt hours or $249,660 per year.

And what about water? Running water flows at approximately 2.5 gallons per minute from an ordinary tap. If each person on base runs water one minute less per day, the base would save 912 gallons per person, per year for a total of 6.9 million gallons or $38,122 base-wide annually.

Consider the impact a single individual can make. Simple actions go a long way to saving energy, water and money. Below are little changes you can make to be part of the greater impact on energy savings.

· Turn off lights when leaving an area for an extended period of time.

· Turn off lights near windows or skylights.

     - In areas with sufficient daylight, turn off lights

     - Adjust blinds to reduce glare

· Use task lighting and turn off general lighting, when feasible.

· Turn off display and decorative lighting.

· Turn off exterior lights during daylight hours.

     - Insure exterior lighting controls are operating correctly.

· Clean and maintain light fixtures.

· Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents.

· Turn off lights in unoccupied areas.

· Use partial lighting when building is not fully occupied.

· Remove unneeded lamps or fixtures.

· Dress for the season and keep thermostats set between 76-78 degrees for air-conditioned spaces in the summer and between 68-70 degrees in the winter.

· Do not use space heaters- the base space heater policy can be found on the 628th Air Base Wing Enterprise Information Management site under the policy letters tab.