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Sequester those electrons, save big bucks

(U.S. Air Force Graphic by Naoko Shimoji/Released)

(U.S. Air Force Graphic by Naoko Shimoji/Released)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Have you ever heard the saying, "Every penny counts?" Well, when it comes to our climbing utility costs, every electron counts.

The cost of electricity is expensive around the world, but it's especially so here on Okinawa.

Since 2003 the cost of energy for Kadena Air Base has risen a whopping 47 percent! In 2011 the price of electricity rose 9.9 percent, and in 2012 it went up another 7 percent. I admit I'm a geeky engineer who likes numbers - except when the numbers cost us money. Unfortunately, budgets are decreasing, and we have to get our utility usage under control; it's tough to stomach a 17 percent rate increase, regardless of who's paying.

Last summer the 718th Civil Engineer Squadron and 18th Wing Public Affairs crew introduced the Power Nap conservation effort to Kadena Air Base. It's a simple concept: if you're not using it, turn it off! Peak demand for electricity is 1-4 p.m. each day, and the rate we're charged during this three-hour period jumps 20 percent. If you can do without it during the hours of 1-4 p.m., defer it until later.

In my opinion, the best way to affect reliable, long-term savings is refreshingly basic: use people power! If you're one of those naysayers who ignore the issue because you don't think you'll have an impact, let me spark your interest with a few hard-hitting facts.

Electrical rates increase during the summer months when air condition usage peaks. We pay the premium rate during the hours of 1-4 p.m. and pay the least for power consumed between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Knowing this and being vigilant can save a lot of money. If you run your dishwasher after 4 p.m. (instead of at 3 p.m.), you immediately cut your consumption cost by 20 percent. Likewise, if you do your laundry after 10 p.m. (vice 3 p.m.), you cut costs by a mind blowing 46 percent! Who knew?

People power greatly helped alleviate some of the cost last summer; the simple Power Nap campaign resulted in a whopping $1.2 million in savings!

The 18th Wing's goal is to reduce electrical consumption by 3 percent this year. If successful, we'll "turn-off" costs of approximately $1.8 million.

The bottom line: we need everyone energized on this subject, because saving energy on Okinawa is a team effort. Please take the time both at home and at work to find ways to minimize daily energy usage, and if you don't need it, turn it off.

So before flipping the switch, look at your watch and sequester those electrons! Give your air conditioner and/or appliances a Power Nap from 1-4 p.m. Using the concept of "people power" will help reign in our alarmingly large utility bills, while saving the 18th Wing and the U.S. taxpayer some really big bucks.